QBs take crash course
HUNTINGTON -- Over the first three days of Marshall University's football preseason camp, it was almost as though quarterbacks Cole Garvin and Michael Birdsong were getting in four separate sessions each day.
Garvin and Birdsong, who are in their first year with the Marshall program, were taking part in the morning practices before going in to watch film and break down their performance.
After lunch, they were coming back out for the afternoon session to watch Marshall starting quarterback Rakeem Cato and fellow quarterback Gunnar Holcombe before heading in after practice to watch film of Cato's performance.
The three days of work and visualization paid off for the duo, who took it to another level Thursday when they joined with the rest of the team for Marshall's first full-squad practice.
"It helps so much -- a good transition period that feels smooth now," Garvin said.
Garvin, a freshman from Tyrone, Ga., came in prior to the start of spring practice, so he was thrown to the fire instantly as he joined the battle for the backup spot with Holcombe, a redshirt sophomore, and former Thundering Herd quarterback Kevin Anderson, who transferred over the summer.
Now, Garvin is in the mix with Holcombe in a two-man race to see who will be the backup to Cato when the season gets underway Aug. 30.
Holcombe is going into his third year with the program, so to help bring along Garvin offensive coordinator Bill Legg has a plan.
"I'm allowed to lean my focus a little heavier and it allows Cole to watch himself after this morning's practice and then come out and watch Cato this afternoon and then watch Cato again tonight on film after the afternoon practice," Legg said. "He's getting it four times instead of two."
Birdsong is a James Madison University transfer who isn't eligible until the 2015 season.
While Garvin could be in the immediate mix for playing time should something happen to Cato, Birdsong is in a bit of a different situation.
Birdsong said he had never been in a split-squad practice situation at James Madison and it was a new experience he enjoyed.
"You can make your mistakes in the morning and come out here and watch Cato," Birdsong said. "He's been doing this for a while and he doesn't make any mistakes, so you come out and watch him and learn. It helps a lot."
Birdsong said he plans to soak up all the knowledge Legg and Cato have to offer while also fine tuning his game as he sits out a season under NCAA transfer rules.
"This is a whole other class of wide receivers being at this level," Birdsong said. "It will take some time and it will take more than a few days, but. ... I've got until 2015 to get ready."
Thursday was the first day the full team convened into one session and also the final day in "shells" (shoulder pads and helmets).
The team comes together for its first practice in full pads at 2:30 p.m. Friday.
Network hires Donnan to announce
HUNTINGTON -- Former Marshall University football head coach Jim Donnan is in the lineup of announcers for the new American Sports Network that will telecast Thundering Herd games this season with Rhode Island and Southern Miss.
Play-by-play announcers this season include Ron Thulin, Dave Armstrong, Mike Gleason and Bill Hazen. Analysts include Keith Moreland, Dave Lapham and Donnan.
Gleason is on a broadcast team with Donnan.
American Sports Network is a collegiate sports initiative owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. that will air 30 C-USA Football games this season on television stations throughout the nation.
-- The Herald-Dispatch
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