#86 Marshall Football Preview

Marshall Thundering Herd

Overall Rank: #86
#7 Conference USA

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2010 Record: (5-7, 4-4)
2010 Bowl: none
Coach: Doc Holliday (5-7 at Marshall, 5-7 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Bill Legg and Tony Petersen
Defensive Coordinator: Chris Rippon

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Martin Ward, RB, 345 yards
Passing: Eddie Sullivan, QB, 134 yards
Receiving: Aaron Dobson, WR, 689 yards
Tackles: Vinny Curry, DE, 94
Sacks: Vinny Curry, DE, 12.0
Interceptions: Donald Brown, S, 3; Omar Brown, S, 3; Rashad Jackson, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: LB Devin Arrington, LB Tyson Gale, LB Kellen Harris, CB Monterius Lovett, RB Tron Martinez, OT Ryan Tillman, WR Antavious Wilson, G C.J. Wood

Key Losses: QB Brian Anderson, WR Courtney Edmonson, LB Mario Harvey, DT Michael Janac, G Landis Provancha, G Chad Schofield, CB Ahmed Shakoor, TE Lee Smith, WR Chuck Walker

Coach Doc Holliday inherited an experienced quarterback in Brian Anderson last season, but this time around there is a quarterback battle. Sophomores Eddie Sullivan and A.J. Graham are the two candidates. As a freshman Sullivan completed just six of 24 passes, while Graham completed ten of his dozen attempts. Either way, the quarterback position is very inexperienced. At 6-4 and 208 pounds, Graham appears to be the favorite heading into the fall in part due to his arm strength, but Sullivan will be breathing down his neck every step of the way.

Whatever happens at quarterback, it is the defense that will carry this team. Linebacker Mario Harvey is gone, but this is a unit that returns nine starters from one of the conference’s best defenses. It all starts up front with Vinny Curry. The 6-4 senior defensive end is a beast of a pass rusher and is coming of a year in which he totaled 12.0 sacks and 18.0 tackles-for-loss. The loss of Harvey is huge, but the Thundering Herd has plenty of experienced linebackers. Tyson Gale, Devin Arrington and Kellen Harris may not have the star power of Harvey, but they are a talented group who can play solid defense. Without Harvey they will just lack the spectacular play. The secondary, like most of the team, was young last year, but has grown up nicely. Seniors Rashad Jackson and Omar Brown are all-conference contenders and there is a nice mix of experience and young talent to fill in the gaps.

The only player who rushed for more than one touchdown for Marshall last year was Troy Evans. And he is a wide receiver. That is just the beginning of the Thundering Herd’s offensive issues. There are some decent young rushers on the squad though. Travon Van is a speedster who is bursting with potential, Tron Martinez is still developing his game and Martin Ward has enough strength to be a short yardage back. The receivers have a little more experience; most notably Aaron Dobson. The 6-3 junior is a big play receiver who averaged nearly 16 yards per catch last season. Antavious Wilson has some experience too, but the loss of tight end Lee Smith could be a problem. Smith was a fine pass catcher and a great outlet receiver. The pressure will be on Jamie Hatten to turn into that player and Marshall will need a good pass catching tight end while they break in their new quarterback.

The Bottom Line:
There are a lot of questions surrounding the skill players at Marshall. But while they break in a new quarterback and try to find a quality rusher out of their stable of running backs, any success the Thundering Herd offense has early in the year will be on the shoulders of their offensive line. Guard C.J. Wood will anchor the line once again and players like Ryan Tillman, Corey Tenney and Colin Mungro should make the offensive line pretty strong. With a decent offensive line and Curry dominating the defensive line, Marshall has the tools to build a quality team. It just may take some time for the skill position players to come around.

Projected Bowl: none

2010 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 97.17 (114th in nation, 11th in conference)
Passing Offense: 217.08 (63, 9)
Total Offense: 314.25 (103, 11)
Scoring Offense: 20.83 (101, 11)
Rushing Defense: 145.25 (55, 6)
Pass Defense: 240.75 (94, 6)
Total Defense: 386.00 (71, 4)
Scoring Defense: 28.75 (74, 4)
Turnover Margin: -.50 (88, 6)
Sacks: 2.50 (24, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.08 (18, 3)

Madness 2012 NFL Draft Rankings
#50 Vinny Curry

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