Marshall football: Bye week gives Thundering Herd time to heal
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Of all the things the Marshall football team will work on during its bye week this week, Coach Doc Holliday said the most important might be getting healthy.
Bumps and bruises accumulate through a month of preseason practice and six games and the schedule leaves little time to heal. Center Chris Jasperse hasn't missed a game, but Holliday said he's spent the last four weeks wearing a walking boot. Many players are clad in red non-contact jerseys during practice and Holliday said that limits those players' progression, especially on defense.
"You get better by practicing and going out and being physical with live tackling and really doing it," he said. "You only get better tackling, and when you're out there in a red jersey all the time not able to tackle and work on fundamentals and techniques, you regress as a player."
This week should help in that regard. The Thundering Herd players had Sunday and Monday off, lifted and ran Tuesday, will practice in shorts today and go through full practice Thursday and Friday. So by Sunday, when the Herd begins preparing for Southern Mississippi, Holliday expects everyone to be able to practice at 100 percent.
As far as injured players returning, Holliday said defensive lineman Ken Smith was a possible candidate, but "probably not" defensive lineman James Rouse and corner Darryl Roberts. And don't expect any offensive players to shift to defense to fill in the gaps at this point, like running back Travon Van did switching to corner before the Rice game.
"I'm not sure we can take an offensive lineman and put him on defense," Holliday said. "At this point in the year, we have to get the guys we're playing with better at their positions. It's hard to manufacture a guy six games into the season. In a goal-line situation, you may stick a big guy in there, but actually playing in the field, that'd be a tough thing to do."
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MARSHALL'S COACHES were out on the recruiting trail at the beginning of this week, Holliday said. They'll all be back today.
Holliday said having the bye week in the middle of the season actually helps in the recruiting process.
"It does help because you've got more film out there you can watch," he said. "And it's more film you can watch to make sure you're going out to the right places. Most of these kids we're out to see are kids we've already evaluated and know that we want.
"You only have 'x' amount of time to get where we need to go," he said. "We're targeting, number one, our needs. We're not going to kids we're not sure we can play or not."
The Herd already has verbal commitments from offensive linemen Cody Collins (6-2, 280, Trotwood, Ohio), Michael Selby (6-3, 280, Sandersville, Ga.) and Gerald Wright (6-2, 321, Miami, Fla.) and quarterback Kevin Anderson (6-2, 204, Boca Raton, Fla.) Holliday said the team needs to sign three outside receivers, a couple of linebackers, and possibly a safety and another offensive lineman.
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HOLLIDAY acknowledged that his team needs to replicate their furious finishes in his first two seasons. Marshall now sits at 2-4 and 1-1 in Conference USA, and needs four more wins to become bowl eligible. But the Herd has won four of its last five games in the past two seasons.
"The kids have stayed the course," he said. "They haven't flinched. They go out every day and go to work. If they keep working like they're working, good things are going to happen for them and this program."
Sixth-year guard John Bruhin can't put his finger on why the Herd seems to be a second half team both in terms of individual games and the season. He knows, though, that it must keep happening.
"Now we're starting to get into conference play and we have to be good," he said. "We have to be 100 percent. We can't lose any more of these."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.