Inside Marshall Sports

Camp observations, August 3

First off, Obi Obialo is spending his second straight practice with a cast on his left arm. …

A little surprise: The team is practicing in “shells” today … helmets and shoulder pads, shorts otherwise.

We’re going to go inside, with weather in the area. Ugh.

Took a drenching on the way to the indoor despite going through the Shewey. I’m always worried about the equipment, but it felt pretty good for me. Sun’s out now … oh, well.

Hey, at least there aren’t four dozen cops here …

I won’t say much about the QB order from here on out. Same as Wednesday: 1. Chase Litton; 2. Xavier Gaines; 3. Isaiah Green. Garet Morrell is redshirting and Jackson White … oh, never mind.

Speaking of which: We have another QB! Sporting No. 18. That will get a note today, but he’s probably a walk-on who should be trying his hand elsewhere. (cue the music) Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be walk-on quarterbacks …

Catch of the day so far comes from, we think, Monterio Hunt. (He is wearing a blue jersey and we can’t get a fix on his helmet number). He tightroped the back of the end zone to catch a nice ball from Green.

We see a No. 42 in green (offense). He’s in shoulder pads, so this isn’t his first practice. We don’t see a 42 white. We think George Davis was flipped to offense.

Said 42 white is playing outside receiver on the 2s … AND HE JUST GOT IN A FIGHT WITH DONTRELL JOHNSON. That was some quality enmity there.

Bear in mind that Tyre Brady, Darian Owens, Obi Obialo and Ryan er, Nick Mathews are on the sidelines. Suddenly, bodies are needed at WR.

FWIW, Omari Cobb is getting work with ones at LB, alongside Juwon Young and Artis Johnson. And don’t read *anything* into safety usage (Update: We don’t see Chase Hancock) … Brandon Drayton and Nazeeh Johnson? Reavis and K. Gant remain a tandem, running with twos. Still expect them to start on Sept. 2.

Tyler King still sidelined at RB ….

Camp observations, August 2

Darian Owens gets the first snaps on the right side, with Willie J on the left side. Tyre Brady is dressed out but not participating.

Xavier Gaines takes the No. 2 snaps. … I think he has made the move. He has showed Cato-like improvisation skills early in camp, and it looks as if he runs better. (He has to slide better, right?)

Chase Litton got hooked for up-downs for botching a handoff … Hey the QBs aren’t immune to that!

What’s this? Isaiah running the 3rd string? Yes! Hmmmmmmmmm …

Read nothing into this: Stone Scarcelle running on the first unit at “X.” He’s a walk-on from Royersford, Pennsylvania. … Some “dings” on Brady and Owens, probably. … Marcel Williams running on the “2” at slot. Hmmmm.

RB Brenden Knox is showing up a little bit with the 2s … Hadn’t seen much of him to this point.

QB Jackson White, who has zero shot at starting QB, has been holder when Kaare Vedvik has taken field goals. I haven’t written about it yet, but Vedvik has a good shot at landing the dual role (sans kickoffs … I think).

Gaines just pulled off the play of the day, using the ball fake and sending it downfield to Hyleck Foster, who only had a half-step on the defender. Very good throw.

(UPDATE: Coaches are planning to redshirt Garet Morrell, get him a year away from Chase Litton, class-wise.)

Camp observations from August 1

Hello gang,

The blog has been re-enabled and I’ll put stuff here from time to time, including game notebooks after print deadline, etc.

One caveat this month: The “public” part of practice continues through August 12, when a scrimmage will be held. After that, practices are closed to the public. We can attend under parameters of which I will not bore you. I will say this: We have it better than the poor schmucks covering Louisiana State.

(And you wonder why recruiting news has been so dreadfully popular?)

My contributions this week so far: Trey Rodriguez and Tyler King have made an early splash in the backfield; a bulked-up Levi Brown now ready to lead the offensive line back to glory.

Fielding kicks: Rodriguez is part of a small mob trying out for those duties. Others include Willie Johnson (good pick for kickoffs, as he was early last year), Gator Green, Hyleck Foster, Ryan Mathews, etc.

We had a little mano-y-mano hitting, as is customary. The main event: LB Donyae Moody got the best of TE Artis Johnson, at last according to the coaches. Offense did an “up-down” afterward.

On the O-line: A.J. Addison took the first-team snaps, with Sandley Jean-Felix going with the “twos.” This could be an item.

A little mystery: Marcel Williams took first-team reps instead of Tyre Brady who appeared to be limited. Darian Owens watched today.

Am I seeing things, or am I seeing Xavier Gaines running the “twos” today? Not that this is a surprise …

Play of the day: Isaiah Green made an ill-advised pitch to Brenden Knox, who got HAMMERED by Frankie Hernandez.

Slot receiver Nick Mathews (now No. 10) is having a really good practice. It’s going to take a move from the outside to knock him off first string, because I don’t see Gator Green or Simino Walden doing it.

Jaquan Yulee with the 2s, getting the maximum instruction from LB  coach Adam Fuller. That’s a *good* sign at this point.



Opposing quarterbacks summary

Returning quarterbacks, listed by QB rating:

Name, school GP Comp-Att % TD Int Yds Avg Rating
Mike White, WKU 14 280-416 67.3 37 7 4,363 311.6 181.4
Gus Ragland, Miami (Ohio) 7 114-178 64.0 17 1 1,531 218.7 166.7
Brent Stockstill, MTSU 10 262-414 63.3 31 7 3,233 323.3 150.2
Chase Litton, Marshall 10 231-371 62.3 24 9 2,612 261.2 137.9
Dalton Sturm, UTSA 13 169-299 56.5 20 9 2,170 166.9 135.5
Ryan Finley, N.C. State 13 243-402 60.4 18 8 3,059 235.3 135.2
Jason Driskel, Fla. Atlantic 12 200-327 61.2 9 11 2,415 201.2 125.6
Hayden Moore, Cincinnati 7 146-255 57.3 11 7 1,744 249.1 123.4
Alex McGough, Fla. Int’l 9 167-286 58.4 13 11 1,891 210.1 121.2
Hasaan Klugh, Charlotte 11 120-224 53.6 10 3 1,356 123.3 116.5

QBs on Athlon’s all-conference list: Stockstill (1st team), White (2nd), Litton (4th); Ragland (3rd-MAC),




Guess at a post-spring starting lineup

You may see this guess at a starting lineup in a mag late in the summer. This is largely based on the spring, but I took some liberties.

Take this for what it is: an semi-educated guess. This won’t be the lineup come September 2, and it won’t be the lineup come November 2.

You’ll see no props (all are expected to become eligible this month, I am told by an MU source), and that includes Jaquan Yulee. In my experience, props on defense take at least a year to come close to meeting expectations — think of Mario Harvey and Vinny Curry. Running backs can be a different story, but keep MU’s pass-protection demands in mind.

Yulee’s success would likely give MU a full liberal two-unit rotation at LB, which is a plus.

Ryan Bee missed spring, so his move inside didn’t get a proper look. Still, he may be better than any three-tech on this team, if he’s healthy.

It was not a hard decision to declare Cole Phillips the starting FG kicker a month before he steps on campus. You may have noticed I did not do a kicking story during the spring. That was not an accident.

Leave a prediction in the comments or respond on Twitter. This should be an interesting topic, for sure.

QB    14    Chase Litton*    6-6    223    Jr.
RB    24    Keion Davis    6-1    214    Jr.
WR    8    Tyre Brady    6-3    206    Jr.
WR    87    Nick Mathews    5-10    176    Jr.
WR    3    Willie Johnson    6-0    171    Jr.
TE    85    Ryan Yurachek*    6-3    239    Sr.
LT    67    Sandley Jean-Felix    6-5    317    Sr.
LG    58    Jordan Dowrey*    6-1    282    Jr.
C    61    Levi Brown*    6-4    296    So.
RG    76    Nate Devers*    6-3    292    Jr.
RT    71    Tarik Adams    6-3    277    Fr.

DE    90    Damien Dozier    6-4    205    So.
DT    91    Ryan Bee*    6-7    267    Jr.
DT    54    Nyquan Harris*    6-2    307    Jr.
DE    44    Blake Keller*    6-2    240    Sr.
LB    32    Artis Johnson    6-1    211    Jr.
LB    4    Juwon Young    6-2    247    Jr.
LB    37    Chase Hancock*    6-2    220    Jr.
CB    3    Chris Jackson*    6-0    176    So.
CB    11    Rodney Allen    5-11    190    Sr.
S    1    C.J. Reavis*    6-1    215    Sr.
S    14    Kendall Gant*    6-3    204    Sr.

K    —    Cole Phillips    6-1    200    Fr.
P    16    Kaare Vedvik*    6-4    209    Sr.

Green-White Scrimmage stats

Rushing: Keion Davis 18-93, TD, Joseph Early 21-78, TD, Gaines 7-45, 1 fumble, Morrell 6-(-22), White 5-25, Litton 1-8, Walden 1-6. Total 61-221.

Passing: Litton 10-21, 214 yards, 4 TDs; Gaines 2-14, 15, TD, int.; Morrell 6-13, 59, TD, int.; White 0-8, 0. Total 18-56-2, 286 yards, 6 TDs, 2 interceptions.

Receiving: Brady 4-156, 2 TDs, Mitchell 2-5, Mathrews 5-56, 2 TDs, Williams 1-6, TD; Davis 2-(minus-8), Levias 1-9, W. Johnson 3-64, TD.

Young 7 tackles; Hernandez 6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass breakup; Cobb 5 tackles; N. Johnson 5 tackles; Drayton 5 tackles, 2 pass breakups; Dozier 4 tackles; Moody 4 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss; M. Gant 4 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 pass breakup;
A.Johnson 4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss; Dopson 1 sack, 2 tackles for loss, 1 fumble recovery; Allen 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 pass breakups; D. Johnson 1 interception; A.Johnson 1 interception; Tyler Kopp 1 fumble recovery; Wilson 2 pass breakups; J. Smith 1 pass breakup.

Brady 53 pass from Litton
Mathews 11 pass from Litton
Mathews 12 pass from Litton
Early 1 run
Davis 1 run
Williams 6 pass from Gaines
Brady 33 pass from Litton
W. Johnson 43 pass from Morrell

Link to Corny Jackson’s Cleveland State bio

He will be announced as Marshall’s new assistant basketball coach in the coming days …

.02 on Jon Elmore: Chill out, fans

A few words about Jon Elmore declaring for the NBA draft: Take a deep breath, Herd fans.
He is not signing with an agent, meaning he can come back to MU. He will come back; trust me on that one.
It sounds like a good thing for Elmore and the Herd. He will get a few workouts, he hopes, to go against other prospects and see which areas he needs to improve the most, and get some solid tips he can apply to his next season at Marshall.
He even gets reasonable expenses, as allowed by the NCAA, for each team workout he lands. Don’t expect him at the NBA Draft Combine, which took 70 or so last year.
The NCAA deadline for Elmore and others to withdraw their names from draft consideration is May 24 this year. I was kind of fooled by the NBA irrelevant deadline of June 12.
Remember, he has a former NBA assistant coach in Dan D’Antoni, who has no doubt already told him about the process, and what to expect.
The draft is June 22. Elmore’s name will not be in the pot. He’s not Deon-Tay McManus or Michael Clark; he knows what he’s doing.

Conference USA rankings, 2/21


The usual reminder: All teams play Thursday-Saturday weekends, both home or both away. This week’s exception: “Travel partners” UAB and Middle Tennessee play each other at 1 p.m. Sunday.

My rankings, with last week’s results and upcoming schedule (RPI entering Tuesday’s games):

1. Middle Tennessee (24-4, 14-1, 31 RPI), d. WKU 78-52, d. Marshall 97-86. Both CBS’s Jerry Palm and ESPN’s Joe Lunardi put the Blue Raiders on the 11 line — on the bubble if an at-large berth becomes necessary. This week: at UAB (Sunday).

2. Louisiana Tech (20-8, 12-3, 123 RPI), d. FAU 95-69, d. FIU 77-61. Dunkin’ Dawgs on 6-game streak after killing “F” teams. This week: at North Texas, Rice.

3. Old Dominion (16-10, 9-5, 136 RPI), d. Charlotte 72-48. Uh, oh, Herd. Monarchs held Charlotte to 30% shooting. This week: home vs. Marshall, WKU.

4. Texas-El Paso (11-15, 9-5, 257 RPI), d. North Texas 77-71 (OT), d. Rice 79-71. For Miners, FAU/FIU is not known as the “sunshine trip” It’s the “humidity trip.” This week: at FAU, FIU.

5. Marshall (15-12, 8-6, 127 RPI), d. UAB 74-59, lost to MTSU 97-86. Needs 4-game sweep to equal last year’s 12-6 league record. This week: at ODU, Charlotte.

6. Western Kentucky (13-14, 7-7, 218 RPI), lost to MTSU 78-52, d. UAB 76-64. Nicely impersonated a contender in Sunday TV game vs. Blazers. This week: at Charlotte, ODU.

7. Alabama-Birmingham (15-13, 8-7, 181 RPI), lost to Marshall 74-59, lost to WKU 76-64. Mired in a 1-5 mess, I might be overranking Blazers. This week: home vs. MTSU (Sunday).

8. Rice (18-9, 8-6, 184 RPI), d. UTSA 80-68, lost to UTEP 79-71. Owls close to fulfilling my crazy prediction of a first-round bye, but must finish 3-1 vs. Southern Miss, La Tech, Marshall, WKU. This week: home vs. Southern Miss, La Tech.

9. Charlotte (11-14, 5-9, 233 RPI), lost to ODU 72-48. Another team in 1-5 skid. This week: home vs. WKU, Marshall.

10. Florida Atlantic (9-16, 5-9, 286 RPI), Lost to La Tech 95-69, d. Southern Miss 94-82. This week: home vs UTEP, UTSA.

11. Texas-San Antonio (11-16, 6-8, 300 RPI), lost to Rice 80-68, lost to North Texas 83-73. Somehow, this team has a legit shot of recovering and rising back to .500. Really. This week: at FIU, FAU.

12. Southern Mississippi (8-19, 5-10, 336 RPI), d. FIU 69-66, lost to FAU 94-82. This week: at Rice, North Texas.

13. North Texas (8-18, 2-12, 331 RPI), lost to UTEP 77-71, d. UTSA 73-63. Rallying too late to make C-USA tournament or save Tony Benford’s job. Name to know: PG Ryan Woolridge, 2-time C-USA freshman of the week. This week: home vs. La Tech, Southern Miss.

14. Florida International (6-21, 2-12, 340 of 351 RPI), lost to Southern Miss 69-66, lost to La Tech 77-61. This week: home vs. UTSA, UTEP.


TV games — beIN Sports: Marshall at Old Dominion, 8 p.m. Thursday. ASN: Marshall at Charlotte, 6 p.m. Saturday. ESPN3: WKU at Old Dominion.

Stat leaders

Top scorers: Elmore (Mar) 20.1, Davis (Cha) 20.0, Evans (Rice) 19.2.

Rebounders: Kessens (FIU) 9.2, Johnson (WKU) 9.1, McCree (LT) 8.9.

Assists: Elmore (MU) 6.1, Bracey (LT) 5.964, Artis (UTEP) 5.962.

Top scoring teams: Marshall 86.2, Rice 81.7, Louisiana Tech 76.9.

Top shooting teams: Middle Tennessee .486, Rice .470, Louisiana Tech .469. (Marshall 6th at .458)

Top 3-point % teams: Rice .393, Marshall .374, Charlotte .369.

Offensive rebound %: Old Dominion .362 (MU 11th at .242)

Defensive rebound %: UTSA .770 (MU 14th, .666)

Conference USA rankings 2/7

After a week’s hiatus, a considerable shake-up. This is starting to resemble the league standings, but there are some twists.

The usual reminder: All teams play Thursday-Saturday weekends, both home or both away. This week’s exception: “Travel partners” Marshall and Western Kentucky play each other in a single game Saturday.

My rankings, with last week’s results and upcoming schedule (RPI entering Tuesday’s games):

1. Middle Tennessee (20-4, 10-1, 47 RPI), d. UTSA 69-59, lost to UTEP 57-54. For the second time, drops out of the “Receiving Votes” category. Losing 17-point leads will do that to you. This week: home vs. Old Dominion, Charlotte.

2. Louisiana Tech (16-8, 8-3, 128 RPI), d. Western Kentucky 76-67, d. Marshall 94-90. DeQuan Bracey had 5 assists, 0 turnovers vs. Marshall. His ratio now is 3.6, which *easily* leads the league. This week: at UTEP, UTSA.

3. Old Dominion (14-9, 7-4, 167 RPI), d. FIU 64-57, lost to FAU 65-61. So who else do I put up here. This week: at MTSU, UAB.

4. Texas-El Paso (8-14, 6-4, 296 RPI), d. UAB 63-59, d. MTSU 57-54. 7-foot-1 Matt Willms hit 2 FTs to clinch dramatic upset over MTSU. So the big guy wakes up and now he’s hitting from the line, too? That’s trouble. This week: home vs. La Tech, Southern Miss.

5. Alabama-Birmingham (14-10, 7-4, 166 RPI), lost to UTEP 63-59, lost to UTSA 82-67. I’ve seen UTSA. The Roadrunners just aren’t that good. Another wretched loss for Blazers. This week: home vs. Charlotte, Old Dominion.

6. Western Kentucky (12-12, 6-5, 208 RPI), lost to La Tech 76-67, d. Southern Miss 64-47. Don’t look now, but these guys are on a 3-1 roll, with a win over suddenly hot UTEP. This week: home vs. Marshall.

7. Marshall (13-11, 6-5, 153 RPI), lost to Southern Miss 91-76, lost to La Tech 94-90. Southern Miss was the worst loss of the season, and it’s not close. Suddenly, a 9-9 league record is not a given. This week: at WKU.

8. Charlotte (11-11, 5-6, 240 RPI), lost to FAU 77-75, d. FIU 95-80. This week: at UAB, MTSU.

9. Rice (15-8, 5-5, 177 RPI), d. North Texas 95-80. This week: at FIU, FAU.

10. Florida Atlantic (8-13, 4-6, 332 RPI), d. Charlotte 77-75, d. ODU 65-61. You just don’t walk into The Burrow and come out with a win. Wait … Owls pulled their Charlotte/ODU sweep on the road. Wow. This week: vs. North Texas, Rice.

11. Texas-San Antonio (10-13, 5-5, 293 RPI), lost to MTSU 69-59, d. UAB 82-67. So what can this team do to get any respect? This week: at Marshall, WKU.

12. Southern Mississippi (7-16, 4-7, 332 RPI), d. Marshall 91-76, lost to WKU 76-67. xxxx. This week: at UTSA, UTEP.

13. Florida International (5-18, 1-9, 337 of 351 RPI), GAME OF THE YEAR ALERT: Panthers host North Texas on Saturday in battle of the two teams who won’t make the field in Birmingham. This week: home vs. Rice, North Texas.

14. North Texas (6-16, 0-10, 330 RPI), lost to Rice 95-80. These guys play at Marshall in the regular-season finale. And the Mean Green’s season finale. This week: at FAU, FIU.

TV games — beIN Sports: Old Dominion at Middle Tennessee, 8 p.m. Thursday. Campus Insiders: Charlotte at Middle Tennessee, 6 p.m. ASN  (certain markets): Old Dominion at UAB, 8 p.m. Saturday

Stat leaders

Top scorers: Davis (Char) 19.8, Elmore (Marshall) 19.5, McGill (FIU) 19.4.

Rebounders: Kessens (FIU) 9.5, McCree (LT) 8.9, Johnson (WKU) 8.7.

Assists: Elmore (MU) 6.3, Artis (UTEP) 6.0, Bracey (LT) 5.4.

Top scoring teams: Marshall 86.8, Rice 82.0, Charlotte 78.9.

Top shooting teams: Middle Tennessee .487, Rice .476, UAB .470. (Marshall 5th at .460)

Top 3-point % teams: Rice .400, Charlotte .387, Marshall .375.

Offensive rebound %: Old Dominion .370 (MU 11th at .238)

Defensive rebound %: UTSA .764 (MU 14th, .663)