#47 Marshall Football 2012 Preview

Marshall Thundering Herd

2012 Overall Rank: #47
#4 Conference USA
Marshall College Football 2012 Team Preview
Marshall Team Page


Marshall is right on the cusp of turning winning seasons into truly successful seasons.  They have some holes that need filling, but Doc Holliday appears to have the program heading in the right direction.  After masterfully recruiting for West Virginia for the two seasons before he got to Marshall, Holliday is 12-13 in two years and has the team back on the winning side of things.  The defense is the strong unit for the Herd, but a lot of seniors have moved on since 2011.  Can Marshall continue their upswing or will their graduation losses be too much?

2011 Record: (7-6)
2011 Bowl: Beef O’ Brady’s vs Florida International (W 20-10)
Coach: Doc Holliday (12-13 at Marshall, 12-13 Overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Bill Legg
Defensive Coordinator: Chris Rippon

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Tron Martinez, RB, 649 yards
Passing: Rakeem Cato, QB, 2,059 yards
Receiving: Aaron Dobson, WR, 668 yards
Tackles: Monterius Lovett, DB, 36
Sacks: Jeremiah Taylor, DL, 3.5
Interceptions: Monterius Lovett, DB, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Travon Van, LB Jeremiah Taylor

Key Losses: DL Vinny Curry, LB George Carpenter, S Omar Brown, LB Tyson Gale

Marshall was solid defensively in a lot of categories.  The Thundering Herd was fifth in the entire country in tackles for loss.  They were stout up front with some space-eaters that would not allow teams to get up field.  They averaged more than two sacks per game, third best in Conference USA.  They had three players with over 90 tackles in 2011 and five players had over 70 tackles.  They will need to keep those numbers up to repeat the kind of bullish backfield defense they played last year.  Marshall was also solid on the special teams units.  They ranked top five in their conference in all special teams categories.

The offense struggled mightily in 2011 with freshman quarterback Rakeem Cato undertaking the duties.  He should be better in year two with some experience under his belt.  They ranked in the bottom 20 nationally in yards per game and they were also unable to score points effectively, at 21.85 per game.  Between passing and running, they did not fare well outside the red zone either.  Leading rusher and returning veteran, Tron Martinez, will have to pick up more of the load this season to get the offense on track.  They were no better than 9th in Conference USA in any offensive category.  They still finished fourth in the conference with poor offensive numbers.  With a little more development from Cato, they can do some damage against familiar foes.

The Bottom Line:
Marshall’s progress will depend on how the offense advances in year three under Coach Holliday.  Cato had decent numbers as a freshman last year.  His improvement is key if the Herd is able to have more than seven victories.  It is going to be difficult for them to replace studs like Vinny Curry and Omar Brown on defense.  They need to keep up the strong defensive effort to help relieve their young quarterback.  If they cannot keep up their strong defense, then they may be in trouble.  Monterius Lovett will have to lead the way for the secondary and they need to lock down on the back end if they want to stop opponents from scoring.  Marshall has a shot to win eight games, but they also have a chance to lose eight.  It could be a swing season for Doc Holliday.

Projected Bowl:  Liberty Bowl

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 120.08 (96th in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 213.31 (72, 10)
Total Offense: 333.38 (102, 11)
Scoring Offense: 21.85 (99, 9)
Rushing Defense: 149.85 (58, 5)
Pass Defense: 255.15 (96, 8)
Total Defense: 405.00 (78, 6)
Scoring Defense: 28.62 (74, 6)
Turnover Margin: .15 (44, 4)
Sacks: 2.08 (T47, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 2.08 (T68, 7)

Madness 2012 Football Recruit Rankings:
#138 Amos Leggett