Open week good news for Herd's injured
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - From Doc Holliday's indications Tuesday afternoon, Marshall trainers and doctors are working hard to get Kevin Grooms to work through his high ankle sprain and return to the lineup a week from Saturday against Texas-San Antonio.
Most of the Thundering Herd's other injury cases are expected to work themselves out during the siesta this week, including defensive tackle Brandon Sparrow. But Holliday is not so optimistic about defensive end Jeremiah Taylor, who left the game at Ohio early and did not play last week against Virginia Tech.
"J.T. is one guy that's probably going to be out awhile," Holliday said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. "I don't want to get into specifics on injuries, but he will not play against San Antonio. Sad, but he won't."
Sparrow has missed all of the last two games, which tested Marshall's newfound depth on the defensive line. Jarquez Samuel started both games, with Steve Dillon and Josh Brown seeing plenty of action. Samuel had 11 tackles in the Ohio game.
At end, Ra'Shawde Myers saw more snaps, with Gary Thompson and Arnold Blackmon becoming important backups. Thompson picked up a sack in the Virginia Tech game.
Holliday expects "Z" receiver Craig Wilkins to get healthy by the UTSA game, 2 p.m on Oct. 5. The coach said Gator Hoskins wouldn't be 100 percent this week but should be able to get going by Sunday, when the Herd cranks up its game preparation.
Grooms, fighting through one of those dreaded high ankle sprains, may be the biggest point of emphasis in the training room. He accompanied the team to Blacksburg, Va., and even dressed, but sported a big, black orthopedic boot.
He was pulled out of the season opener against Miami (Ohio) after being tracked down on a potential touchdown run, then was held out for the Herd's 55-0 romp over Gardner-Webb. He gained 35 yards on 15 carries against Ohio.
At Virginia Tech, Essray Taliaferro took 26 of the team's 28 carries. Called the best pass protector among the Herd running backs, he gained 105 yards, but some fresh legs might have helped later in the game. Remi Watson has been a non-factor, and who knows how deep in the doghouse Steward Butler might be after his two fumbles in the Ohio game.
"We felt like we had to get [Grooms] into actual contract drills to see if he could play or not," Holliday said. "He just wasn't there in that insider period, so we just shut him down. We're asking doctors, 'He's not going to play at a high level at Virginia Tech, what can we do to make sure we get him back 100 percent for San Antonio, for conference play?'
"And that was to put him in a boot to get him healthy, and to start him back this coming Sunday. The doctors and the trainers got together and felt that's what we had to do."
Not that Grooms was thrilled about it.
"He's on me and [athletic director] Mike Hamrick and everybody else, wanting to play," Holliday said. "That's just Grooms."
Holliday and several players welcomed the bye week pretty much from the final play of the Herd's triple-overtime loss in Blacksburg, but not just for the healing aspect. Seven coaches left town for recruiting trips.
Holliday was able to give his players Monday and Tuesday off, which was good to rest the mind. Holliday also pointed out another positive intangible.
"When you lose a game like that, all people want to talk about is that game, all week," he said. "I guarantee those kids are walking to class and they're walking to here. If we had to line up Saturday, [the students] wouldn't be talking San Antonio, they'd be talking about the Virginia Tech game."
Holliday knows Larry Coker, essentially the father of UTSA football, quite well. Coker was offensive coordinator or head coach at Miami (Fla.) for 12 seasons, so the two often crossed paths on the recruiting trail and occasionally in games.
UTSA is in its third season, going 8-4 in the now-football-extinct Western Athletic Conference. The Roadrunners' 2-2 mark this season includes an impressive win at Texas-El Paso in their Conference USA debut.
"They're a good team," Holliday said. "I'm not sitting here blowing smoke, I'm just telling you. Go watch them. They scored 35 against Okie State, they played Arizona tough, they went and beat UTEP on the road, they beat New Mexico on the road.
"They play Houston this week. That will be a good gauge as to how they match up. They've got a quarterback [Eric Soza] that's talented. They have been playing football for [only] three years, but when you turn on the film it doesn't look that way. It's amazing what he's done in that three-year period.
"Go watch the film, and you'll like what you see. I really didn't like what I saw."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.