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The question took Charles Huff by surprise, momentarily.

The query?

“Hey, Charles, what has been the biggest surprise for you during this spring practice?”

He joked and bought some time, but, then, Marshall University’s new head football coach knocked the answer through the uprights and clean out of Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

“The biggest surprise — and we’re just talking football — is probably the receptiveness of the players,” said Huff.

“I’m hard on them. I’m hard on them because they are close to where they want to be, but they do need to close the gap.

“And they have been ultra receptive. There has been very little push-back. The things that we are asking them to do, they’ve tried to do to the best of their ability.

“They’ve gotten better. It was uncomfortable for a while for them because it’s all different, it’s all new.”

Marshall’s fans are sure to notice the players’ receptiveness and attitude during the annual Green-White spring game at 3 p.m. Saturday in “The Joan.”

That’s because it is “that” obvious.

“Their receptiveness has probably been the most surprising,” said Huff.

“Not that I thought they would be against it. But change is hard. Everybody wants change until it’s time to change. So, change is hard.

“Even when you don’t realize that you are giving push-back, you sometimes walk. And the players have been phenomenal without giving any push-back, even when they don’t understand why we are asking them to do something. They’ve tried to do it to the best of their ability.”

There’s one — and only one — reason for that.

MU’s players want to be coached.

Mull the importance of that premise over for a moment.

The players want to be told what to do and the best way to do it. They want to improve.

So, they want to be coached.

“Correct, correct,” said Huff. “And that’s encouraging. I tell them all the time, there are three types of players. There are players that don’t want to be coached.

“They say, ‘Don’t say anything to me. I’m good. I’ve got it.’ Then, there are players that want to be coached only when they do it right. They say, ‘You know, hey, Coach tells me what I did right. Don’t worry about everything else.’

“And, then, there’s the player that really wants to be told how they can get it better. They don’t need pats on the back. They don’t need to know it was a great catch. They say, ‘I know it was a great. How can I do it better? How can I run a better route? How can I play a better technique?’”

The latter player may not be as talented, but he will be the most successful.

“I tell them every day, every play, you have to decide which of those three players are you?” said Huff.

“Do you not want anybody to say anything to you because you’ve got it? You’re good. You only want to hear Coach’s voice when you do something right. Or, do you want Coach to tell you every single time how you can do it better?

“And that’s what they have done.”

That’s because “Huff’s Herd” wants to be coached.

That hasn’t always been the case at Marshall, but it is now.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at

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