HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - It was perhaps the first curveball thrown by Marshall coaches in their selection of weekly game captains: freshman Corey Tindal, the nickel back.
Not that it will get an objection. By all accounts, Tindal is pretty much the most valuable rookie on the defense. But Tindal didn't see a trip to the coin toss coming.
"I was surprised, and it felt good, man," Tindal said. "You know all the hard work's just paying off. It's a wonderful feeling, so many emotions go through me when [coach Doc Holliday] said that."
"I've said all along, you don't have to be a senior to lead," Holliday said. "Maybe one of the best leaders I've ever been associated with was Phillip Rivers at N.C. State, as a freshman. Corey Tindal's been no different from the time he stepped out there, he's been a tremendous leader. It helps when you're a tremendous player; those things go hand in hand.
"It's great to see him develop the way he has, and I'm just glad he's on our team."
Defensive tackle James Rouse became the first two-time captain of the season. Receiver Tommy Shuler and center Chris Jasperse also were named.
Defensive tackle Brandon Sparrow has been ruled out for Saturday's game. A few others have returned to full practice, including running back Kevin Grooms, cornerback Keith Baxter and linebacker Stefan Houston. Houston, a true freshman, has not made his college debut.
Center Cam Dees also has returned, adding yet another experienced hand to an offensive line that has flexed its depth. With true freshman Michael Selby having taken 36 snaps and graded out respectably, that will give coaches some options when Jasperse needs a break.
Holliday confirmed that linebacker Billy Mitchell likely will not return this season, thus ending an injury-plagued college career. Mitchell suffered yet another concussion during a preseason scrimmage.
"If he was my son, I wouldn't let him play," Holliday said. "I mean, he was out three months a year ago with a concussion. To have the concussion he had, to be honest, I'd recommend he not play. It's not worth it on his part."
Speaking of offensive line grades, Jasperse and right tackle Clint Van Horn are grading out as well as any, with a 78 percent success rate. Van Horn has gotten a good look as a second-stringer, getting 79 snaps. Scott has played 122 snaps, only behind Jasperse's 137.