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Marshall Football Preview
by Matt Fargo - 08/18/2008
No. 91 Marshall Thundering Herd
2007 Record ~ 3-9 SU ~ 4-6-1 ATS
Starters Returning ~ Offense (8) Defense (9)
The glory days of Marshall football are long gone. After going 28-6 in their final four years of the MAC, the Thundering Herd has not had a good transition to C-USA as they have gone 10-14 in three years including a 3-5 mark and a 5th place finish in the East last season. The potential is there for a better finish as the East is the weaker of the two divisions but it still will not be easy. Mark Snyder is in his fourth year as head coach and time may be running out unless things turn around quickly.
Bernard Morris had a solid season in 2007 but he has graduated and inexperience is the foundation at quarterback this season. Likely starter Mark Cann is a redshirt freshman and while his inexperience is a liability, his leadership ability and unflappable demeanor have proved to be assets in practice. Running back Darius Marshall hopes to take some of that pressure away after gaining 631 yards in his freshman season. The offensive line returns three starters but seven of the 10 in the two-deep are freshmen or sophomores.
Marshall brought in former Cincinnati head coach Rick Minter to take over a defense that finished 107th overall and 102nd in scoring. The Herd allowed 35 or more points seven times last season and there simply is not enough offensive power to offset that. The return of 2006 C-USA Defensive Player of the Year Albert McClellan after missing last year with a knee injury is a huge boost to the linebackers. Marshall forced only seven turnovers last season, worst in the nation so that definitely needs to increase.
An easy game against Illinois St. starts the season to get the new players acclimated but a trip to Wisconsin directly follows that. Two C-USA games are next followed by the final two non-conference games against Big East powers Cincinnati and West Virginia. The remaining conference schedule isnâ€™t bad as the Herd are fortunate to host Central Florida and Tulsa. As with any team that is breaking in a new quarterback, it is best to give it some time before jumping on Marshall. That Wisconsin game could tell us a lot.