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Marshall football: Grooms, Butler are not new anymore

HUNTINGTON - Running backs Kevin Grooms and Steward Butler were missing something this week at Marshall football practice. But it was something they didn't mind losing.

Grooms and Butler, both freshmen, had the red stripes removed from their helmets. That stripe signifies a newcomer on the Thundering Herd, and a team vote is what changes that red stripe to green.

Head Coach Doc Holliday said both backs have done well during preseason camp.

"You guys have been out here watching them and they've been doing some pretty good things throughout the camp," he said. "The rest of the players felt they deserved to have them removed."

While that color switch may seem like a small gesture, Holliday said it's a big deal for the players. It takes a lot of hard work to remove that stripe and be accepted as an established part of the team.

"It's amazing," he said. "(Kevin) Rodriguez came to me about a week ago and said, 'Coach, I had my red stripe taken off in the spring.' He shouldn't have had it back on. It means something to them. They're conscientious about it."

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HOLLIDAY DOESN'T think the new NCAA kickoff rules - teams now kick off from the 35-yard line - won't affect the kickoff teams much. He does think the kick return teams will have a lot to think about in a very short time.

"I think there will be a lot of decisions made whether to bring it out or not - how deep it is in the end zone, what's the hang time," he said. "Your off-returner and your returner have to do a great job of communicating when and when not to bring that ball out.

"I think a lot of it depends upon who you're playing," he continued. "Do I bring it out or not? I like our kickoff return. We'll bring it out every shot we get."

Teams also must deal with new onside kick rules that allow receiving teams to fair catch onside kicks after the ball has hit the ground once. That negates kickers going for one big bounce while their teammates try to run under it.

"It's going to change the kickers a little bit," he said. "Teams are still trying to determine how to onside kick it. I think it'll be determined by what your kicker does best."

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THE HERD had crowd noise pumped into Joan C. Edwards Stadium during Tuesday's practice. It was a necessity, Holliday said, especially since they'll open the season at the raucous Mylan Puskar Stadium in what will be the end of the current "Friends of Coal Bowl" series with West Virginia University.

"You have to prepare for it," he said. "You just don't go out there the first time and all of a sudden some guys who've never had to operate (in it) are out there. As long as you prepare for it, it's not an issue. We'll prepare for it."

 Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at or 304-348-1712. His blog is at



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