Bee wants Marshall to match buzz
HUNTINGTON — Marshall University defensive tackle Ryan Bee walks out of the cold tub after practice and stands overlooking the turf of Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
Bee stares into the distance, almost as though he is replaying that day’s practice in his head, making mental notes he will take with him to the position meetings when the players break down video.
For a senior who is no stranger to the grind of preseason, the fourth week could become almost a bit of a formality. But for the 6-foot-7, 280-pound Ashland, Ohio, native, the intensity of the stare lends itself to something else.
As Bee put it, this is the last chance for his senior classmates to do something special at Marshall, and he doesn’t plan on taking it easy as the Thundering Herd gets set for Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. season opener at Miami (Ohio).
“Each day, we’ve got to go 100 percent,” Bee said. “We’ve got a lot of guys back and the talent is there. We just have to go to work each day and make sure we are improving.”
There is a quiet intensity about Bee and fellow seniors such as linebacker Chase Hancock and wide receiver Tyre Brady that has been the earmark of the preseason. At this point, holding back is not an option, whether it is to improve themselves or make a statement to the younger players about the way business needs to be conducted.
Occasionally, that even means pushing the limits to make sure intensity stays at a high level. Often, practice altercations get misconstrued as guys losing focus and getting frustrated with hitting the same players on the other side for several weeks at a time.
“Oh yeah,” Bee said. “It’s easy to get sick of hitting the same guys. We’ve just got to stay focused.”
While that can sometimes be true, the flip side of a practice altercation is it means the intensity of the session is at a high level.
Coaches don’t want altercations disrupting practice, but — even though they won’t say so — no coach wants to see his team go through preseason without a scuffle or two.
There has to be that competitive fire that gets lit when players are going head-tohead, whether with teammates or opponents.
It’s a much better scenario for head coach Doc Holliday and his staff to have an intense group that learns to harness the aggression instead of having a team that lacks intensity.
The proper name for it, according to Holliday, is “competitive excellence,” and it’s something he has not questioned throughout the preseason.
“Our guys are working hard and getting better each day,” Holliday said. “We’ve just got to continue to improve and make sure we take care of business.”
With 18 starters back and talent at each position from an eight-win team, the projection is Marshall is going to be a good team in 2018.
For Bee, that’s not enough.
Bee wants the Herd to be great, and he wants to go out as a Conference USA champion.
“Obviously, there’s high expectations for this season with a lot of returning starters,” Bee said. “With high expectations, this first game is very important to set the standard for the season and how it’s going to go.”
Marshall is now officially into its game week preparation for Miami (Ohio) and the seemingly endless days of hitting teammates are almost over.
After months of hearing the buzz about potential, Bee and company will find out how they stack up against their opponents.