2022 Marshall Thundering Herd Preview

by Matt Fargo

Marshall Thundering Herd

2021-22 Season Record 7-6 (5-3 C-USA East) - 6-7-0 ATS - 7-6-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 5
Defense - 6

Overview

Conference USA is no power league but it is adequate and Marshall had great success there with nine winning records over the last 11 seasons that included nine bowl games and six wins. Instead of trying to move into a stronger conference, or even a lateral move, the Thundering Herd are headed to the Sun Belt Conference this season, arguably the worst or second worst conference in the country but if there was a year to do it, this is the one. Old Dominion and Southern Mississippi along with former FCS powerhouse James Madison also join the SBC so it will definitely be stronger this season but is it still a questionable shift. Head coach Charles Huff is in his second season with Marshall and his first one resulted in a winning record that could have been better as four of the six losses were by one possession and it outgained nine of 13 opponents but only 11 starters are back along with a No. 103 returning production ranking.

Offense

The offense was solid under Huff as they brought nine starters back including quarterback Grant Wells and while he aired it out often, he did throw 12 picks and overall, the Thundering Herd finished No. 10 in total offense and No. 26 in scoring offense. Wells is off to Virginia Tech and Marshall will likely turn to Henry Colombi who is a transfer from Texas Tech where was a decent option in limited action but threw 10 interceptions compared to 15 touchdowns and that needs to get better. He will have the leading receiver from last season at his disposal as Corey Gammage caught 78 passes for 869 yards but just two touchdowns. The offensive line was fantastic but have to replace some key pieces and some early season chemistry is a must. Despite finishing No. 71 in rushing offense, Rasheen Ali had an incredible season as he rushed for 1,401 yards with 23 touchdowns and his production can take pressure off Colombi at least early on.

Defense

The defense was not nearly as good as Marshall finished No. 73 in total defense but it kept teams out of the end zone as it allowed only 22.8 ppg which was No. 40 in the nation thanks to a killer pass efficiency unit. The Thundering Herd finished with 40 sacks which was tied for No. 15 in the country and they will have to replace a lot of those but the defensive line will be serviceable again with a pair of big transfers coming in. Koby Cumberlander was second on the team with 4.5 sacks and will once again be the top man in the middle. The linebacking corps is solidified with all three starters returning and they were sensational with 10 sacks between them and a total of 260 tackles so they know how to attack the ball. The secondary benefitted from that pass rush as they finished No. 26 in passing defense and No. 12 in passing efficiency defense and two key players have to be replaced at the safety position so it could be a small slip.

2022 Season Outlook

While the early thought is that a move to SBC is questionable, the fact that three other teams also moved over shows that this conference is moving up and there have been some very solid programs in the past. Huff was successful in the final season in C-USA with a loaded team and as mentioned, if there was a season to move, this was probably the ideal one with a lesser roster and a schedule that is on their side. The Thundering Herd open at home against Norfolk St. and then head to Notre Dame for the first of three straight road games. A game against a much improved Bowling Green team and then their first Sun Belt game at Troy concludes the trek. Another FCS game at home against Gardner Webb concludes the nonconference slate. They play four of the top SBC teams coming up but all of those are at home, a huge bonus. The O/U win total is set at 6 and they can go over if they take care of business at home in the SBC. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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