Marshall Thundering Herd College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season
Marshall Thundering Herd Biggest Key: Offense
Keep the chains moving … on fourth down.
There weren’t a whole lot of issues on third downs, but going for it didn’t work.
Yes, the running game has to get going again after dying late – the Herd couldn’t do much of anything on the ground in the last three games and couldn’t go anywhere against Florida Atlantic in a close early win.
Yes, the passing attack has to make up for the issues when the ground attack isn’t working – it didn’t. But for an O that needs to get its momentum back and sometimes doesn’t have a huge margin for error, just converting on fourth downs is a big deal.
The Herd converted both fourth down attempts against EKU to start the season, but it missed at least one try in each of the last nine games.
It was a particular problem in the 20-0 loss to Rice when the Herd tried to get anything working – they missed on all three tries – and converted on just 1-of-3 times in the 22-13 Conference USA championship loss to UAB.
Marshall Thundering Herd Biggest Key: Defense
Finding more tackles for loss would be nice. There’s no arguing with what the Marshall defense was able to do – or should do going forward. However, most of the key plays behind the line came from Darius Hodge and Tavante Beckett, and they’re both gone.
Again, there’s no real beef with anything one of the nation’s best defenses was able to do, but averaging five tackles for loss over the last two years is way low – especially compared to the 2018 line that lived in the backfield.
The D came up with ten tackles for loss against UMass, but who didn’t? That was part of a nice midseason run of big plays in the backfield, but the D didn’t do anything against UAB or in the bowl loss to Buffalo – just four tackles for loss in the two games.
Marshall Thundering Herd Key Player To A Successful Season
RB Sheldon Evans, Jr.
Brenden Knox was a special back for the program. He ran for close to 3,000 yards with 24 touchdowns and averaged over five yards per carry, but after hitting the 100-yard mark in five straight games, he couldn’t carry the offense down the stretch and sat out the bowl game before turning pro early.
That opened the door for Evans – and others – but he struggled a bit with just 79 yards on 18 carries in the loss to Buffalo. Going forward, Evans and Knowledge McDaniel – with ran for 54 yards and a score against Buffalo – have to pick up the rushing slack.
Marshall Thundering Herd Key Game To The 2021 Season
WKU, Nov. 27
WKU has been solid at times over the last few years, but it lost four straight to Marshall. Before that, the Hilltoppers were 3-0 in the series, and now they have to go to Huntington to end the regular season in what should decide the East title.
Florida Atlantic will have a say – that’s a road game for Marshall – but it should come down to the end. The East is the better of the two divisions, but there’s a shot Marshall blows through the conference slate before the showdown.
2020 Marshall Thundering Herd Fun Stats
– 3rd Quarter Scoring: Marshall 99 – Opponents 34
– Red Zone Scores: Marshall 31-of-37 (84%) – Opponents 16-of-24 (67%)
– Fumbles: Opponents 15 (lost 10) – Marshall 6 (lost 2)