Inside Marshall Sports

More Monday quarterbacking

Not sure if crowds will improve at SMU, but the expectations are surely jacked up. Remember, the Herd goes to Gerald J. Ford Stadium on Nov. 20, and has yet to win in the state of Texas.

Speaking of the state of Texas, my trolling for UTEP news was sidetracked by an item about a stray bullet hitting the campus from across the Rio Grande. A  geographical reference: West Paisano along the border on that end of El Paso, between the river and I-10. Part of UTEP, including Bell Hall, is high above all that. You can look off behind the pressbox side of the Sun Bowl into Juarez. … scary stuff.

Back to football: A good roundup, bearing in m ind that the Miners are ditching the 3-3-5 defense.

I might post something about Tulane, I might not. Bob Toledo may or may not be coaching the Green Wave on Nov. 27.

Wednesday morning — very quick observations

— Isn’t it game week yet?
— Jermaine Kelson joined Travon Van and Ra’Shawde Myers in clearinghouse purgatory, but the MU folks expect him to get cleared…
— T.J. Ross continues to impress at middle linebacker, getting the whole workout on the first team. Even if he’s third-team after Kellen Harris, etc., gets back, he’s not redshirting… Ross does not look like he just got out of high school, nor does he talk like it. You’d like this guy…
— Injury news on Harris, Aaron Dobson encouraging, but we’re hearing “a couple of weeks” on C.J. Wood. John Bruhin, sorry to say, has slipped off the radar.
— Willy Korn has unseated Tank Tunstalle as the MU poster child for inflated expectations. I wish the guy luck and all, but I wasn’t overwhelmed. (And he’s going to an option team that won two last year?)
— We debated on whether Korn should be eligible at D-II after his summer pit stop but, hey, that’s just not our problem.
— Back to QBs who stuck around, A.J. Graham has had a nice week. I know there may be other factors, but he threw *much* better than Brian Anderson and Eddie Sullivan today, we thought.

Enjoy!

Checking the opposition

Southern Miss: As if the Golden Eagles needed it, a converted safety is blossoming as linebacker.

East Carolina: With the long, drawn-out Patrick Pinkney era over, the Pirates have a 3-man QB race.

UCF: With Brynn Harvey out, the Knights are grooming several running backs. Harvey could be back by mid-September, at last glance.

Ohio State: Jim Tressel just might … maybe … open up the playbook … at some point?  Also an update on the construction of Ohio 315, which runs by the stadium.

Bowling Green: Sophomore Matt Schilz appears to be closer and closer to winning the starting QB job. Note the placekicking item toward the end.

(May update later…)

Hey, WVU: Are you kidding me?

You’ve probably already dissected this, but here is Dave Hickman’s recap of WVU’s latest NCAA infraction, allowing players to wear extra padding at the Mountaineers’ first preseason workout.

Are you kidding me? I really don’t care how minor this is, but WVU’s upcoming penalties should be doubled on grounds of general stupidity.

The rules on practices do not require an aeronautical engineering degree … which brings me to a Mark Snyder story I’ll let loose after four years.

It was Snyder’s first spring pratice, March 2006. In contrast to later years, he wanted a he-man, high-testosterone, survival-of-the-fittest spring. After Tuesday’s workout in sweats, he wanted to go all out for Thursday’s second practice, “Hoot ‘n’ Holler” drill and all.

The MU press regulars discussed this in the press box, wondering if that were legal. One writer was anal enough to have a pdf of the NCAA Division I Manual on his desktop, so we looked it up. Lo and behold, the first two spring drills are helmets, no other pads.

Sure enough, kickers and others got on the field Thursday afternoon fully equipped, in violation of the NCAA rule.

Nice, eh?

The writer with the NCAA manual on his desktop thought it over and decided he wasn’t in the mood to report on a rules trangression, no matter how minor. He picked up his phone and lobbed a call to David Reed in the compliance office.

Within minutes, somebody yelled out of the door in the Shewey Building and players bolted from the field. Everybody reported in helmets and sweats and all was well.

Thoughts from Monday practice

— As you will see in my notebook, Aaron Dobson continues to be The Man at receiver, more and more.  He may have made his most ridiculous catch today.

— While I think Justin Haig will become the field-goal kicker, the kickoff duties may be up in the air for some time. Early kicks from Haig, Tyler Warner and Nick Stevens were either short or line drives, but that improved as they went along.

— A.J. Graham vs. Eddie Sullivan has gone to overtime.

— Tavaris Thompson on first unit in four-WR set? Don’t hold your breath, but … hmmmmm…

— Tyrone Carper as third safety/nickel back? That’s what I was seeing at times, with Kevin Perry huffing up the stadium steps, etc. Along those lines, Omar Brown is rising on the “please don’t get injured” list. Man, he can cover some ground.

— A little worried about Travon Van. Asked for a post-practice interview, but no go. Protecting a freshman (which is fine), or does he indeed have Clearinghouse issues? Keep in mind, coach Holliday told me there were no Clearinghouse cases. … But daggone, can Van scoot!

Will be back at the stadium Tuesday afternoon… That practice is in shells, but it will be pass-heavy, so let the QB race continue.

First day of practice, other observations

I’ve seen bad starts to the preseason, but this one may top all. On second thought, it might not … Albert McClellan and Doug Legursky getting injured while I was at the State Am in 2007 is about the worst. Then again, McClellan and Legursky were upstanding citizens as well as football players.

The 3 freshmen who were dismissed were not, apparently. The folks who track the Fulmer Cup had much fun with this.

I don’t know this to be true, and will not look, but I hear some misguided fan announced on a board (not herdfans, it appears) that Antwon Chisholm attended the second pratice. Uh, not quite … though that No. 7 was Travon Van, answering one of the burning questions of the offseason.

Doc tells me there are no Clearinghouse issues that have thoroughly annoyed us in recent years.

Early practices are more re-orientation than anything, but I have a few observations:
* Plays of the day: Rashad Jackson (we’re jokingly calling him Bradshaw; he wears 44) and Mario Harvey with big picks of Brian Anderson and A.J. Graham (hope I kept that order straight).
* QB derby: Nothing conclusive to report here. Willy Korn does look like he’s been there before. It was kind of tough throwing to receivers whose heads were spinning, but he looks fine. Eddie Sullivan’s throwing motion might stand some tinkering, but he can throw the rock. … B.A. is vulnerable, as if we didn’t know (see players of the day). Stay tuned.
* Kicker derby: We’ll have to wait until Justin Haig and George Brody get accustomed to kicking sans tee off the Edwards Stadium turf.
* Injuries: Kevin Perry was riding Jacob’s Ladder in the morning … Jermaine Kelson tweaked a hammy but worked it out. As coach points out in my story, freshmen must learn EVERYTHING, and keeping out of hamstring pulls is one part.

I’ll be at morning (veterans) practice the next three days, back in Charleston in the evening.

Ready for some … status quo?

Fresh off the wire…

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott says Texas has turned down an invitation to leave the Big 12 and join his conference.

In an e-mail to The Associated Press, Scott confirms that Texas has rejected the Pac-10’s offer.

The news first was reported by The Dallas Morning news.

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I’m thinking realignment is over for the time being. I’m guessing the Big Ten is holding out for Notre Dame to come to its senses, and then it would pick off a Big East team. For now, nothing more.

Conference USA stays intact…

Kiel taken, other items

Herd senior Ryan Kiel was taken in the 37th round of the MLB draft, joining junior Kevin Shackelford and recruit Aaron Blair of Las Vegas. The latter two were picked in the 21st round, so the dilemma begins (and Jeff Waggoner sweats).

Tyler Gatrell could well land a free-agent deal, so he could end up in the minors this summer as well… 

Chuck Neinas was rehired by Conference USA to guide the league through the next minefield of realignment. He has received considerable credit for shepherding Marshall into C-USA, a marriage that wasn’t automatic, contrary to popular belief.

Here is the list of Conference USA players taken in the MLB draft (incoming recruits are NOT included):

Rd.	 Player	   Pos.	  School	  MLB Team
3	Rick Hague	SS	Rice	        Washington Nationals
3	Rob Segedin	3B	Tulane	        New York Yankees
8	Kyle Roller	DH	East Carolina	New York Yankees
10	Blake Kelso	SS	Houston	        Washington Nationals
13	Michael Goodnight RHP	Houston	        Cleveland Indians
14	Diego Seastrunk	C	Rice	        Cleveland Indians
16	Ryan Fraser	RHP	Memphis	        New York Mets
16	Chris Wallace	C	Houston	        Houston Astros
17	Preston Claiborne RHP	Tulane	        New York Yankees
18	Jimmy Comerota	IF	Rice	        Arizona Diamondbacks
20	Chad Mozingo	OF	Rice	        Washington Nationals
20	Luke Stewart	1B	UAB	        New York Mets
21	Scott Copeland	RHP	Southern Miss	Baltimore Orioles
21	Owen Dew	  RHP	UCF	        Cleveland Indians
21	Kevin Shackelford  RHP	Marshall	Milwaukee Brewers
23	Drew Martinez	OF	Memphis	        New York Mets
23	Shane Brown	OF	UCF	        New York Yankees
25	Mike Ojala	RHP	Rice	        Florida Marlins
26	Ty Stuckey	LHP	Houston         Cincinnati Reds
26	Chris Duffy	OF	UCF	        Philadelphia Phillies
31	Stephen Sultzbaugh OF	Rice	        Arizona Diamondbacks
32	Todd McInnis	RHP	Southern Miss	Oakland A's
33	William Kankel	LHP	Houston	        Milwaukee Brewers
34	Dustin Harrington  SS	East Carolina	Chicago Cubs
36	Jared Rogers	RHP	Rice	        Florida Marlins
37	Ryan Kiel   	  LHP	Marshall	Seattle Mariners
38	Nick Graffeo	LHP	UAB	        Kansas City Royals
38	Jared Ray       	RHP	Houston	        Minnesota Twins
39	Ryan Woolley	RHP	UAB	        Texas Rangers
41	Seth Maness	RHP	East Carolina	Florida Marlins
48	Devin Harris	OF	East Carolina	San Francisco Giants

Some Ravens news, Travon Van

Catching up today … and mourning the death of Mike Cherry, who was as good an MU beat writer (and J-school alum) as there was.

I’ll update today and tonight as I round things up, but here’s some Baltimore Ravens news.

The Orlando Sentinel isn’t overwhelmed by the Herd’s prospects, picking the Herd 84th. Notice the writer’s “look back” kind of got a few events backward: Snyder was forced out, then the Herd won the bowl game.

I’ll have a little more on Travon Van tonight/Wednesday. He is in school, though he may or may not be a “prop.” Lets put it this way: If he qualifies, his redshirting is considered very, very doubtful.

Tickets will available for the Big Green’s Sleepy Hollow stop, but you’d better step on it. They’re $25, and call Jim Ferguson at 304-552-3501 for reservations.

Neat basketball item

Dago Pena is in the Dominican Republic trying out for the senior national basketball team there, coach Herrion tells me. Cool deal for a cool guy … Won’t make the Big Green stop Thursday, but I’m writing about it now.