HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - As Marshall's defense works to maintain its dominant play this week against Gardner-Webb, the Thundering Herd has added an experienced cornerback to its future.MU officials announced the transfer of cornerback Donaldven Manning from Virginia Tech. He played eight games as a freshman for the Hokies in 2012, recording four tackles and an interception.He will sit out the 2013 season and have three years of eligibility at MU. He will begin practicing immediately.The 5-foot-10, 181-pound graduate of Miami Central High (same school where quarterback Rakeem Cato and receiver Tommy Shuler graduated) was listed as a starting cornerback on Tech's June depth chart.
Virginia Tech's need at corner became more urgent after the injury of Antone Exum, but the competition was also tougher. As the Washington Post reported in mid-August, the emergence of freshmen Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson seemed to convince Manning he would not have a significant role with the Hokies.Manning was hotly recruited out of Miami Central, where he was a second-team Class 6A all-state selection. Rivals.com had him ranked the 11th-best corner in the country and the 27th-best player at any position in Florida.nn
Marshall's defense held Miami to 55 total yards and two first downs in the second half last weekend, but those numbers may not be the most impressive. This may be: Coach Doc Holliday reported Tuesday that his defenders missed only four tackles.More than once was the 2012 Herd guilty of that many on a single play."That's unheard of, to be honest," Holliday said. "To only have four missed tackles tells me that we have guys who are running around playing with great fundamentals, great technique and are under control. Anytime our defense comes back in Sunday and we have single-digit missed tackles, there's a pretty good chance you're going to win that football game."That was the case Saturday. I think the other thing is that our guys got lined up and played with the enthusiasm that they played with and had fun doing it."nn
This week's captains for the Herd will be Cato, tight end Gator Hoskins, defensive end Alex Bazzie and defensive tackle James Rouse. Each week, the foursomes are honored for their performance and leadership during the previous week.Cato went 22 of 34 for 253 yards and five touchdowns and no interceptions, plus he rushed nine times for 59 yards. He was generally praised for his mastery of the offense and how he ran the attack at differing tempos without making many mistakes.Hoskins caught three passes for 38 yards with two touchdowns, of 20 and 14 yards. Bazzie had three tackles and Rouse had two, with one for loss.
But the most important thing about Rouse was the fact he played. Back problems and a ruptured Achilles tendon kept him out of action since Sept. 18, 2011 at Ohio - an absence of 22 games."You're talking about a guy that has overcome adversity. If most the players or people out there had to go through what he's gone through they would've given up football," Holliday said. "He had no luck whatsoever. He just persevered and continued to work extremely hard."He has a great attitude. He played Saturday and played extremely well. It was great to see because he's a great player and a great kid."nn
Marshall used three running backs against Miami, and that may be the case against Gardner-Webb.Holliday said Remi Watson will play Saturday, but Kevin Grooms isn't a sure bet. Grooms had four carries on the Herd's first touchdown drive, including a 39-yard gain to the Miami 10-yard line.
As nice as that run was, it threw a red flag for the coaching staff."We'll see how it goes," Holliday said of Grooms' status for Saturday. "We worked so hard, he wanted to get in there last Saturday ... when he got caught from behind that one time, I knew he wasn't 100 percent. He should be a lot better this week."Elsewhere, Holliday expects linebacker Stefan Houston to practice all week and play. He wasn't sure about center Cam Dees and cornerback Keith Baxter.nn
And finally, a new walk-on kicker has appeared - Kaare Vedvik, a 6-foot-3, 178-pound freshman from McPherson, Kan.Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.