Marshall notebook: Kersey's bad day could be a learning experience
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - One of the more painful aspects of spring practice is this: If you have a bad workout, you have to wait two or three days to atone for it.
In the case of Marshall wide receiver Shawney Kersey, it is three days, as the Thundering Herd's 10th workout of the spring isn't until Tuesday.
Even more painful, three is exactly how many passes Kersey had in his mitts and dropped Saturday in the Herd's first officiated scrimmage.
Starting the day on the second unit at "X" receiver, the Penn State transfer got wide open down the sideline and dropped a Blake Frohnapfel pass. That likely would have been a 70-yard touchdown reception.
Moved up to the first unit after an injury to Demetrius Evans, Kersey dropped a third-down pass from Rakeem Cato. The coverage by Darryl Roberts was good, but Kersey still had both hands in good position.
Later, he dropped a Cato pass in the red zone. He also messed up a potential 9-yard pass when he slanted inside at the snap at the line instead of heading out toward the corner, where Cato threw a timing pass.
Maybe Kersey will have a bang-up senior year and be able to laugh at all that.
"We'll find out a little bit about intestinal fortitude," said Bill Legg, MU's offensive coordinator. "That's why I grabbed him right after the scrimmage and I said, 'Look, there's not a guy out here that hasn't made a mistake.' I played a lot of football years ago, and I've been coaching for a long time.
"I still make mistakes. Today, I called a play and I called it backwards and all of a sudden I had to get them to change it. And I've been doing this for a long time.
"I get mad at myself for about five seconds, but I have to move on. Because if I remain angry, then it affects the next play, the next play, the next play and the next play."
That's the lesson for Kersey. And if it doesn't sink in?
"You've got to let it go because if you don't the mistakes will multiply," Legg said. "And when the mistakes multiply, that's when you're going to be standing on the sidelines with me."
Evans was the morning's only casualty, as far as requiring on-site attention. He was hurt on what could have been a splendid tight-roping catch on the sideline, as he fell awkwardly after getting the one foot down. The ball slipped away upon impact.
Evans returned briefly, then was pulled for the rest of the morning.
Devon "Moo-Moo" Smith played and caught five passes for 52 yards, but he's still not 100 percent - an exciting prospect for those awaiting the MU debut of the 5-foot-7 Penn State transfer.
It's mid-April and not late August, so that may have colored defensive coordinator Chuck Heater's view of four pass-interference penalties. Shoot, he seemed almost happy with it.
The Big Green donors and season-ticket holders attending could be pleased. In recent years, many criticized the large cushions Herd corners consistently allowed receivers.
But while the fans may see tighter man-to-man coverage this fall, they should know a few flags will follow.
"A little bit of it is the cost of doing business," Heater said. "You're going to play tight, but you've got to play smart with your hands. I think you're going to see [when] your left hand's on people, get them off. Maybe get them on, officials start looking, then you get them off and you're OK.
"We're going to talk about better-disciplined hands. But I'd rather start there."
Heater continued his rotation at linebacker. Billy Mitchell played the "Mike" spot in the 4-2-5, with Stefan Houston playing "Will." Jermaine Holmes and Cortez Carter manned the second unit, with Derek Mitchell playing the strong side in a traditional 4-3.
Houston, a freshman out of Fork Union Military Academy, woke the scrimmage up early with a big hit on Kevin Grooms. That has been a developing trend since Kent Turene suffered a spring-ending ankle injury. But Heater isn't getting too excited.
"You guys saw him get a lot today," Heater asked. "I just remember the one he didn't get. You know how coaches are."
At times, MU halted scrimmage play for some special-teams work, and Justin Haig got to boot a few field goals. He has been all alone in place-kicking duties this spring.
He made all of his attempts, from 35, 39, 38 and 41 yards.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, email@example.com, or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.