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Scott settling in after move to left tackle

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A week-plus ago at Florida Atlantic, Marshall offensive lineman Garrett Scott knew he might be flipping his right tackle spot to the left, and was preparing for such during the week.

But when he was flipped the second possession of that game, he didn't know he was going to spend the rest of the game there. And he didn't know he was being groomed to start on the left for the near future, if not the rest of the season.

But there he was for three-plus quarters at FAU. And barring a change in heart, Scott will start there Thursday night when the Thundering Herd visits Middle Tennessee for a made-for-Fox Sports 1 contest. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. EDT.

A few days after game, Herd coach Doc Holliday cited Scott's athletic ability in moving him over to replace Gage Niemeyer. While Niemeyer played in the first 10 offensive snaps, Rakeem Cato was sacked once and nearly sacked on the following play - a third-and-18 that led to a punt.

The other part of the puzzle: Clint Van Horn is deemed ready to start at right tackle. The Beckley native has continually drawn praise from the beginning of preseason camp on, and coaches are rewarding him.

Scott started his MU career on the left side and started all 13 games in the 2011 season at left guard. So it might be easier to make the flip from right tackle to left, right?

Not really.

"Oh, it's hard," Scott said. "Trying to get my feet back under me, flipping all the plays in my head. That's kind of difficult sometimes; sometimes it's confusing when you're flipping all of the plays."

Position coach Alex Mirabal can attest.

"[It's] extremely [tough], because your flipping everything not only in your mind, but also from a footwork standpoint, from a hand placement standpoint," he said. "Luckily, he's a really good athlete and luckily, he cares about his technique and cares about his footwork.

"But it is difficult, it's not easy. There are some guys who can't play the left side."

The retooled line settled in as the FAU game went on, contributing to the 167-total yard fourth quarter and, ultimately, the 24-23 comeback victory. The Herd didn't commit a turnover or give up a sack in the final three quarters.

That stat won't be easy to repeat Thursday night in Murfreesboro, Tenn. The Blue Raiders are tied for second in the nation with 20 turnovers forced, and are among the top tier in sacks with 18.

Those are spread among 11 defenders. They'll come with anybody, from anywhere.

"They'll bring a corner from the field, they'll bring a corner from the boundary," said offensive coordinator Bill Legg. "When they bring the corner, they're probably bringing an outside linebacker with him. They'll come after you, and they're aggressive in their blitz package.

"It's what our challenge is, and we've got to make sure that we work our butts off all week, so we can execute our challenge when the time comes."

And Scott is working hard on his new "dance steps," so to speak - with Mirabal paying special attention.

"That's why I feel the transition, moving to left tackle wasn't too bad on me," Scott said. "It was a little difficult with my feet and all, but it wasn't too hard because of coach Mirabal pushing me every day, telling me 'Flip your feet! Flip your feet!'"

 

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    In the statistical oddity of the weekend, the Herd mysteriously gained 20 yards (the wrong way) on the its rushing and total defense. That happened when the home team of the Herd's last game, Florida Atlantic, accidentally reprogrammed the starting point after kickoff touchbacks to the 20-yard line instead of the 25.

    With four touchbacks, the Herd defense was penalized 20 yards. The difference dropped the Herd to 23rd in rushing defense at 121.2 yards per game, swapping places with Oregon. Total defense-wise, the Herd rose to 301.5 yards per game, but remained 10th.

    The good news: All that will be corrected after this week.  

    Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsmock@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.


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