College Football Preview: The 2015 Marshall Thundering Herd
Marshall Thundering Herd Preview
2014 Record: 13-1
Despite the loss of the explosive Rakeem Cato the Marshall Thundering Herd have the CUSA title in their sights.
Overview: The Thundering Herd dominated opponents in 2014 to the tune of 47-16 and should once again light up the scoreboard with plenty of weapons at their disposal. The defense does have some question marks in the front seven with stopping the run but even an average defensive effort and Marshall could be hoisting the CUSA championship banner.
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Offense: Replacing Rakeem Cato and his 3,903 passing yards with 40 touchdowns AND his 609 rushing yards seems like an impossible task but Marshall has three star quarterbacks Gunnar Holcombe, Cole Garvin, Chase Litton and transfer Michael Birdsong to battle for the position so on paper the cupboard is not bare. The loss of Tommy Schuler (92-1138) in the passing game is big but the receiving corps have weapons in Angelo Jean-Louis and Deon-Tay McManus who combined for 47 receptions and over 900 yards with Davonte Allen, Hyleck Foster and a slew of highly ranked players to pick up the slack. The backfield returns their top three with Devon Johnson (206-1767) leading the way with Steward Butler and Remi Watson adding a combined 1,344 yards. Three starters return on the line led by All CUSA RT Clint Van Horn but there is talent available to fill out this unit.
Defense: The Thundering Herd were better stopping the pass then the run and with the loss of the top three along the defensive line the unit not only loses valuable experience but 31 TFL, 14 sacks and eight forced fumbles. The losses up front certainly won’t help the secondary in rushing the passer but opponents will still find success on the ground. The linebacking crew lose Neville Hewitt and Jermaine Holmes and their 155 tackles including 24 TFL and 7.5 sacks which leaves DJ Hunter to build around (10 TFL-5.5 S). The secondary is very good despite losing corner Darryl Roberts and his 17 passes defended. This unit gets their hands on the ball and makes teams pay for mistakes and the only thing that could slow this group is a poor pass rush.
Special Teams: Tyler Williams averaged 44 yards on 42 punts but Justin Haig takes 17 field goals and 82 PAT’s to graduation leaving the place kicking job open. Deandre Reaves was an outstanding kick returner with a 29 yard average on 32 attempts with a touchdown.
Outlook: The schedule appears favorable and based on last season that should translate in to a lot of winning. Enough so that this team is a legitimate threat to win the conference and especially so if the run ‘D’ is adequate.