Herd receivers catching on
HUNTINGTON -- Marshall University wide receivers have a new coach. With a week left in spring practice, the group is more than comfortable with their new position coach, Mike Furrey, and on schedule to once again be one of the most productive units in Conference USA.
"He came in here and was great from the start," Tommy Shuler said after Thursday's practice at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. "He told us we're going to get to work, we're going to change some things and we're going to be the No. 1 receiving corps. We've learned a lot from him."
Furrey played wide receiver/defensive back for eight years in the NFL. He was with the St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins. In 2006, he caught 98 passes with the Lions, tops in the NFC.
Before coming to Marshall, Furrey served as head coach and offensive coordinator the past two years at Kentucky Christian University in Grayson.
Furrey picked up a lot from those pro years and he's passing that knowledge onto the Thundering Herd receivers.
"He told us about moves," said Shuler, who caught 110 passes in 2012 to become the school's single-season record holder. "He's shown me little things to help my game. He's critiqued it so I can get to the next level."
Shuler had a impressive session Thursday as did Penn State transfer Shawney Kersey. Shuler got demonstrative after several catches. Kersey dunked the ball over the crossbar after hauling 70-yard TD pass. That helped make up for some drops in last Saturday's scrimmage.
"I told him to come out and play," Shuler said of Kersey. "If you drop the ball, don't be down. The more plays we make, the better we'll be. We need more players to step up."
Kersey said Furrey's been instrumental in his progress.
"The first week, it was a little up and down," Kersey said. "Everyone in the meeting room loves coach Mike. He's a great coach. Now he's telling us to go get 'em, don't think about it. Everything's gotten better."
Drops, regardless of receiver, doesn't set well with Furrey.
"He wants us to bring them in," Kersey said. "He knows we can do it. I love coach Mike so much, I don't want to disappoint him. I'll do everything in my power to make the catch."
Furrey's passion for football is evident when you see him at work.
"I'm a pretty energetic guy. I like being excited," he said. "I like guys succeeding. I love our guys competing, performing. I really don't expect anything less to be honest with you. That's way you play the game.
"You're so fortunate and blessed to play this game. If you don't come out and take advantage of it, you're not doing anything for yourself. Obviously you're not doing anything for the team. Being a team sport, that's pretty important. A little bit of structure, little bit enthusiasm, energy, demanding. My guys have taken it in stride.
"In the beginning there was a little bit of give and take. Now they trust me enough where there is no more give and take. This is the way we're going to do it. I don't expect anything different. If not, I'll have to find somebody who wants to do it."
During Thursday's practice, Furrey got excited when Shuler, Kersey or any of his performers delivered. The offense, led by Rakeem Cato, the C-USA Most Valuable Player in 2012, had one of its best efforts of the spring.
"One of the things we talked about ... let's go have some fun. Go make plays, Furrey said. "Let's show enthusiasm. We didn't do that on Saturday. If you get into the end zone, do whatever you want to do, let Doc figure that out.
"We need to have that energy, excitement, confidence. We expect to set the tempo. The defense did a heck of a job the last four or five practices. The defense showed more excitement, was more intense. We needed to come out and match that. We decided to do something different today. What we've got going on now is really special. We're playing hard on both sides of the ball."
Scrimmage open to Big Green, season-ticket holders, students
HUNTINGTON -- Marshall's spring practice scrimmage Saturday in Joan C. Edwards Stadium is open only to Big Green Scholarship Foundation members, season ticket holders and Marshall students.
Anyone attending can enter the stadium through Gate D on the east side.
Individuals will be asked to present their Big Green membership card or proof of their season ticket renewal. Students must present a valid MU ID.
Gate D will open at 9 a.m. with the practice scrimmage scheduled to begin at about 9:30 a.m.
-- The Herald-Dispatch
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