Preview 2017: Marshall Thundering Herd
Previewing and looking ahead at the Marshall Thundering Herd season – and what you need to know.
What You Need To Know About The Marshall Offense
It should be better if the young receivers emerge.
The horrible running game has plenty of options returning for what should be a great rotation, but it’s still asking a lot to improve a ground attack that finished 122nd in the nation. With four starters back up front, at least the line will be experienced.
QB Chase Litton was one of the team’s few positives, hitting 62% of his passes with 24 touchdowns and just nine picks, but he needs help with the top four receivers – at least in terms of yards – gone, hurt most by losing rising-star targets Michael Clark and Josh Knight early.
Biggest Key To The Marshall Offense
It’s not that hard – the running game has to set up everything else. Like so many other key areas, things that were a staple of the success a few years ago – like running the ball, coming up with 2,196 yards in 2015 and 3,807 in 2014 – were stunning disasters. How was the ground attack last season? It ran for 1,298 yards and just 12 scores, being held to under 100 yards in six of the final eight games.
What You Need To Know About The Marshall Defense
After shutting out Morgan State to start the season, it was a rough ride for most of the season – give or take a great performance against a Middle Tennessee or a Florida Atlantic.
This year, there’s plenty of hope for a quick rebuild with five of the top six tacklers back to potentially help a run D that was woefully inept.
Almost all the linebackers return – but Devontre’a Tyler is gone in the middle – and three starters are back in a secondary that has plenty of options to try filling in the gaps. But it’s mostly up to the 300-pound junior tackles – Nyquan Harris and Jason Smith among others – to set the tone up front, while Ryan Bee has to grow into an even more dangerous pass rusher.
Biggest Key To The Marshall Defense
The run defense has to hold up better. The pass defense wasn’t a prize, but it was the front seven’s problems that took away the team’s confidence and will early on. The Herd allowed 200 rushing yards or more – and three scores – in seven of the last ten games, and was gouged for well over five yards per carry on a regular basis.
By comparison, the run D allowed under four yards per carry two years ago and gave up 200 yards or more just four times. Going forward, that means …
Marshall Will Be Far Better If …
The defense quits getting gouged. In 2013, Marshall’s defense allowed a not-bad 4.9 yards per play. In 2014, it gave up a solid 4.73 yards per play, and was even stingier in 2015, allowing 4.69 every snap. Last year? The Thundering Herd defense allowed an average of 6.35 yards on every play.
Best Marshall Offensive Player
TE Ryan Yurachek, Sr. – The leading returning receiver came up with 44 catches with nine scores as a sophomore, and while his numbers went down last year – with 28 grabs for 298 yard and five scores – he was still an all-star. The 6-3, 239-pounder is like a big receiver with good hands, and he can be more of a field-stretcher than he showed.
2. QB Chase Litton, Jr.
3. WR Tyre Brady, Jr.
4. C Levi Brown, Soph.
5. RB Keion Davis, Jr.
Best Marshall Defensive Player
DE Ryan Bee, Jr. – The 6-7, 267-pounder is an imposing figure who came on in his first year with 59 tackles and four sacks, and he kept it going with 54 tackles with 4.5 sacks and 12 quarterback hurries. On a line that gets back almost everyone, he’s the star of the show who could and should grow into even more of a menace.
2. CB Rodney Allen, Sr.
3. S Kendall Gant, Soph.
4. LB Chase Hancock, Jr.
5. CB Chris Jackson, Soph.
Key Player To A Successful Season
RB Keion Davis, Jr. – Where are you, Doug Chapman? The Marshall running game was non-existent for way too much of the season, finishing the year averaging 108 yards per game.
Davis finished the season with a team-high 469 yards and six scores, but he didn’t see time over the finishing kick. Anthony Anderson couldn’t break free, and a slew of others logged in time. There will be a rotation, but someone has to rise fro the pack.
The Marshall Season Will Be A Success If …
It’s a ten-win season. It has to have been an aberration. It has to have been. After three straight double-digit win campaigns and 33 victories, is it asking for too much to get back to form? Can the Herd turn the machine back on? The talent should be there to get back into Conference USA championship form in a winnable East, but first, they have to come up with a win over …
Key Game To The Marshall Season
Oct. 14 vs Old Dominion – After all the problems and all of the issues of last year, it would be nice if the Thundering Herd started out rocking in Conference USA play. If they’re any good, they shouldn’t have any problems at Charlotte, and then comes Old Dominion. Last year, with things spiraling out of control, MU lost to the Monarchs 38-14. Payback is a must to have any hope of getting into the East race.
2016 Marshall Fun Stats
– Field Goals: Opponents 13-of-18 – Marshall 4-of-10
– Fumbles: Opponents 16 (lost 12) – Marshall 9 (lost 4)
– Rushing Yards: Opponents 3,044 – Marshall 2,902