Marshall football: Herd’s Watson continues to impress, in battle for reps
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Redshirt freshman running back Remi Watson has continued to show some pretty good moves since leading the offense in rushing at last Saturday's scrimmage.
Considering the major competition for playing time in Marshall's backfield, he knows he doesn't have much of a choice.
"We're all competing for reps," he said. "If one guy goes the distance, that's telling you when your rep is up, you've got to try to take it the distance."
Thundering Herd Coach Doc Holliday said he can't remember the last time he was four-deep at running back, but right now he's six-deep. Last year's top two rushers - junior Tron Martinez and redshirt sophomore Travon Van - have been limited in practice.
That's allowed Watson, redshirt junior Essray Taliaferro and freshmen Kevin Grooms and Steward Butler more carries in practice and more opportunities to prove their worth in the rotation.
Holliday said the depth is great, but in the end, there will be some running backs who will see less action as the season progresses.
"The bottom line is, when it comes down to it, you can't get six guys ready to play," he said. "Try to get six of them ready to play, you can't get anyone ready to play. There's going to come a time when we'll have to cut back the number of reps certain guys get."
Watson, who rushed for 87 yards on eight carries last Saturday, relishes the chance to battle for playing time. He said that, whatever the outcome, it will make him better in the long run.
"There's no bitter competition," he said. "There's great competition. I bounce and make a good run, the next guy knows he's got to come in and make a good run. That just keeps thing flowing in the backfield so everybody's working hard."
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ONE THING that's pleased Holliday this August is that there have been no low-energy, dog-days-of-camp practices. He said the Herd has learned to fight through that and stay focused. It's the average teams, he added, that let apathy and fatigue take over.
"Good teams don't do that," he said. "The teams I've been around that win championships, they come to work every day, the coaches come to work every day and that's what you do. That's your job."
Holliday said it helps that many of his players have to worry about their spots on the depth chart. Some starting positions may be solidified, but others like the kicking and punting jobs and the backup spots in many of the units are up for grabs.
"Having competition at a lot of positions eliminates some of that (apathy) because they know that if they don't go hard, they'll get beat out," he said.
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HERD SENIOR Andre Booker was named Wednesday to the watch list for the 2012 Jet Award, honoring college football's top return specialist. Booker was 20th nationally last season in punt returns (10.89 yards per return) and averaged 24.8 yards on 33 kick returns. Twelve semifinalists will be picked in October from the watch list and four finalists will be named in November.
A selection committee will choose the winner before December's award ceremony.
It's the second accolade Booker has received this preseason. He was named College Football Performance Awards Special Teams Watch List at the end of June.
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at email@example.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.