HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - What coaches see starting today during Marshall football practice will start resembling something much closer to actual football.
The players can now put shoulder pads underneath their jerseys, and what looked like 7-on-7 drills for the most part in the first two days will get a little more physical.
The leg pads won't go on until Friday, but Thundering Herd Coach Doc Holliday said what the players do over the next two days will be pretty similar to what they'll do from Friday on.
"There's not a whole lot of difference between shells and full pads, to be honest," he said. "You practice the same way. You just don't take them to the ground. And we don't take them to the ground much anyway. With shells, you can get done just about everything you get done in pads."
Even in just jerseys and shorts, the coaches are able to evaluate plenty, Holliday said. They can see whether a player is athletic enough and whether he has the appropriate ball skills. On Tuesday, they saw that quarterback Rakeem Cato showing zip on his throws and a burst of speed when he took off from the pocket that he didn't always show last season.
They also saw that the speed burst that made running back Kevin Grooms the Conference USA Freshman of the Year didn't go anywhere. But there were also some aspects the coaches could judge that more often get analyzed when the pads go on.
"To be honest, you can find out a little about their toughness," Holliday said. "When you're in shorts, you're still using your hands and getting a little physical in there, too."
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THROUGHOUT HIS high school career, Kevin Anderson knew that, when he signed to play college football, he'd graduate early and enroll in college in the spring.
The freshman quarterback from Boca Raton is finding out now how important that extra time was.
"Coming into camp, I got so much stronger and so much faster," Anderson said. "The strength coaches did an awesome job. The biggest thing was getting on the field and knowing everything. That makes it so much easier."