2009 Marshall Thundering Herd Football Preview
2008 Record: (4-8, 3-5)
2008 Bowl: none
Coach: Mark Snyder (16-31 at Marshall, 16-31 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: John Shannon
Defensive Coordinator: Rick Minter
Rushing: Darius Marshall, RB, 1,095 yards
Passing: Mark Cann, QB, 1,767 yards
Receiving: Cody Slate, TE, 510 yards
Tackles: Mario Harvey, LB, 107
Sacks: Mario Harvey, LB, 4.5
Interceptions: DeQuan Bembry, CB, 1; Brandon Burns, LB, 1; T.J. Drakeford, CB, 1; Ashton Hall, S, 1; Mario Harvey, LB, 1
Other Key Returnees: QB Brian Anderson, WR Courtney Edmonson, RB Terrell Edwards, G Josh Evans, DE Michael Janac, DT Delvin Johnson, DT Johnny Jones, DE Albert McClellan, G Chad Schofield, OT Ryan Tillman, OT C.J. Wood
Key Losses: G Matt Altobello, LB Maurice Kitchens, C Brian Leggett, WR Dairus Passmore, RB Chubb Small, S C.J. Spillman
Coach Mark Snyder may be running out of time to turn around the Marshall program. The once proud football school known for pumping out NFL caliber quarterbacks is a thing of the past and the next great quarterback is not likely to show up this year either. With eight starters returning on both sides of the ball there is reason to be optimistic, but the optimism should be the possibility of winning six games and becoming bowl eligible, not winning the conference.
The defense has the potential to be very impressive. The front line returns all four starters, but it is not like those four dominated the conference or anything. End Michael Jancac was playing his best football late in the year and the junior could be in for a breakout season. With tackles Delvin Johnson and Johnny Jones manning the middle, and the return of Montel Glasco who missed all of 2008, most teams should have a tough time dealing with the Thundering Herd’s front line. The wildcard is senior Albert McClellan. In 2006 McClellan was a consistent pass rusher, but a major knee injury put a stop to that. His 2008 campaign was not very effective, but he certainly has the skills to wreak havoc in the backfield now that he had a year to prove that his knee is fine. Mario Harvey and Brandon Burns are capable linebackers and three starters are back from the secondary. Free safety C.J. Spillman will be missed, but Ashton Hall is ready to take over the leadership role.
There are plenty of positives to talk about regarding the Marshall offense. Darius Marshall is back after rushing for 1,095 yards and five touchdowns and Terrell Edwards is ready to back him up and replace the oxymoron that was short yardage specialist Chubb Small. The offensive line also returns four starters from a unit that allowed the fewest sacks in the conference. But that whole passing and catching part of football is pretty important since the invention of the forward pass. Quarterback Mark Cann was the guy last year, but he threw 13 interceptions and the position battle is wide open. Brian Anderson and Jake Laudenslayer both have strengths and Coach Snyder might have to hold out until August before he names a starter. And whoever the quarterback is will have to survive without Darius Passmore. The receiver caught 56 passes for 945 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Tight end Cody Slate is a superb option, but the Herd have to find a new deep threat among a group of receivers that failed to catch over 20 passes last season.
The Bottom Line for the Thundering Herd:
Is the defense good enough to carry Marshall to a bowl game? Is the offensive line good enough to carry the offense? There are more questions than answers right now, but this team does have potential. Marshall, the running back not the school, should have a big year, but the opposition will have a much easier time stopping him if there is no threat of a passing offense.
By Joel Welser
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