Marshall Football Preview: More Experienced, Much Improved
The 2007 season was one of growth for the young Marshall team. They had 13 starters return, but had to endure the loss of the 2006 CUSA Defensive Player of the Year Albert McClellan, who tore his ACL and was out for the season.
Marshall stumbled out of the gate with its longest losing streak since ‘79 and started the season with seven straight losses. However, the Thundering Herd ended the season on a high note, as they finished out the year with three wins in their last five games.
Despite a 3-9 record, the Herd’s young players gained valuable experience, and they should be one of the most improved teams in college football this season.
Coach: Mark Snyder (Fourth year at Marshall, 12-23
2007 record: 3-9, 3-5 CUSA
Starters returning: 17 (Eight offense, Nine defense)
Key losses: QB Bernard Morris, C Doug Legursky, LT John Inman, DE Ryland Wilson, DT Byron Tinker, LB Josh Johnson, K/P Anthony Binswanger
Aug. 30 Illinois St.
Sept. 6 @ Wisconsin
Sep. 13 Memphis
Sep. 20 @ S. Mississippi
Sep. 27 @ West Virginia
Oct. 3 Cincinnati
Oct. 18 @ UAB
Oct. 28 Houston
Nov. 8 @ East Carolina
Nov. 15 UCF
Nov. 22 @ Rice
Nov. 29 Tulsa
Key Game: More like key games—if the Thundering Herd are still in the CUSA East Division hunt late in the season, then they will have key games at East Carolina and the following week when they host UCF.
East Carolina and UCF look to be the class of the CUSA East division, but Marshall is right behind them, largely in part to the 17 returning starters.
East Carolina will be looking for revenge in their November meeting as Marshall crushed the Pirates’ dream of winning the East Division last season with a 26-7 victory.
The 2008 version of the Marshall Thundering Herd should be a very much improved team. Last season was a bit of a rebuilding year for the Herd, as they had a lot of young players. That hindered their record last season, but it should pay off this year with the valuable experience the youngsters gained.
The Herd will be led by their 17 returning starters. On the defensive side of the ball, the return of 2006 CUSA Defensive POY, DE Albert McClellan, should give the defense a huge boost.
Senior DT Montel Glasco also returns from an ACL injury sustained last season and will need to be a rock in the middle as the Herd switched to a 3-4 defense at the start of spring.
Look out for FS C.J. Spillman (131 tackles), MLB Maurice Kitchens (90 tackles, four sacks), and CB J.J. Johnson (56 tackles), who will all be seniors this season and should be even better.
The main question mark for this team will be on offense, as they will have to replace the graduated Bernard Morris at quarterback.
There is an open competition for the job as starting QB, and Snyder has an array of players to choose from.
Redshirt freshman Brian Anderson was the backup last season but only completed 12 of 28 passes for only 94 yards. Wesley Beardain was third-string last season and only threw two passes.
The frontrunners for the job, though, seem to be Georgia Tech transfer Jonathan Garner, or redshirt freshmen Mark Cann (6’4” 237 lbs.) and Chris Smith (6’3” 220 lbs.).
The guy who wins that spot will have a plethora of weapons to throw too. In the backfield, sophomore Darius Marshall will be back after leading the team in rushing last season with 631 yards—he has star written all over him.
Joining him will be Chubb Small, who has blazing speed and added 424 yards rushing and five touchdowns.
Marshall has always displayed talent at the receiver position, and this year is no different. Returning are Darius Passmore (660 yards receiving, five touchdowns), Emmanuel Spann (442 yards receiving), and E.J. Wynn (309 yards receiving). South Carolina transfer O.J. Murdock could be this team’s top receiver.
The Herd also boast the C-USA’s best tight end in Cody Slate. Slate put up 818 yards receiving and five touchdowns in ‘07.
The offensive line will have four players returning with starting experience and JUCO recruit Jimmy Rogers, who stands a massive 6’4” and 325 pounds.
With the returns of McClellan and Glasco from injury and the numerous weapons on offense, Marshall should be much more experienced and improved and could challenge in the C-USA East Division. Look for the Herd to return to a bowl game this year.
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