Marshall offense getting in rhythm
HUNTINGTON — Marshall University football head coach Doc Holliday went into spring practice planning to allow as many young players and reserves as possible show their talents.
Holliday gave those players a full morning to catch the coaching staff’s eye during a Saturday scrimmage, and some took full advantage.
Senior running back Anthony Anderson and junior wide receiver Obi Obialo highlighted a strong day by the offense in the last Saturday practice prior to April 28, the 2 p.m. Green and White spring scrimmage in Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
“At this point in the spring, you are just trying to find out what some of those younger guys can do, and I felt like we can do that,” Holliday said.
Anderson and freshman Brenden Knox shouldered the bulk of running back repetitions as Tyler King and Keion Davis both went through stretches, but no live action. Anderson consistently ripped off big runs and showed improved acceleration into the second level, scoring on two runs inside the 10-yard line during live action while adding three scores (12, six and three yards) in redzone work. Anderson finished with 104 yards and four touchdowns — two in red-zone situations — on 16 carries to lead the rushing attack.
“He’s a better player because of the way he’s prepared,” Holliday said. “He’s had a good winter, he’s healthy for a change and he’s got his weight down where it belongs. He’s playing really well right now.”
In addition to his rushing ability, Anderson also showed he could be a formidable pass catcher out of the backfield, adding a receiving score to his day when he hauled in a 22-yard pass from Garet Morrell after getting behind the defense on his route.
“One of the biggest things I’ve tried to focus on this spring is, any opportunity I get and any chance I get, I’m going to run with it,” Anderson said. “I just want everyone to know that I’m still here and I can play. Everything has slowed down and I’m more comfortable with everything.”
Anderson’s first touchdown of the day was a 5-yard run after Obialo set the tone for the offense.
On the day’s first possession, Obialo made a one-handed catch for 36 yards on a pass from Isaiah Green. The next play, Obialo snagged a 23-yard pass from Green that set up Anderson’s score.
Offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey said those plays are critical to get any unit into a flow.
“Last week, the second or third play, we coughed it up, and on the sixth play, we coughed it up,” Cramsey said. “We talked about getting a fast start and someone stepping up to make a play. To me, that changes the whole aspect of the game. When you make a play like that, it picks everybody up and it’s a matter of climbing at that point. There was a definite difference in feel from the start of the scrimmage this week to that which we had last week.”
Each quarterback had success on the field while running series with each of the first and second offensive units.
Morrell overcame early struggles to finish 12 of 17 for 138 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Isaiah Green was 10 of 16 for 148 yards.
Obialo’s two catches led the receivers with 58 yards, while tight end Xavier Gaines had three catches for 53 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown reception from Jackson White, who was 4 of 5 passing for 56 yards and two scores.
Linebacker Jaquan Yulee had a strong day with seven tackles, two tackles for loss and a quarterback sack. Brandon Drayton finished with six tackles. Chad Clay netted the interception of Morrell early in the scrimmage.
Marshall returns to practice Tuesday to begin the final week of spring drills.