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2016 Fierce 40 Previews: #38 Marshall

by DJ Boyer on Jul. 6, 2016

#38 Marshall Thundering Herd

2015 Recap:
Marshall opened up 2015 with a great home win against Big Ten foe Purdue. Following a disappointing loss to Ohio, Marshall reeled off seven consecutive victories. The season was capped with a hard fought 16-10 win over Connecticut in the St. Petersburg Bowl giving Marshall a 10-3 mark and yet another 10 win season.


Coaching:
How can you not like a team led by a coach named Doc Holliday? Holliday has led Marshall to three successsive seasons where the Thundering Herd have reached double digits and a fourth looks like a distinct possability. Want further proof that Marshall is the real deal? Their five consecutive bowl victories is the longest current streak at the FBS level and only Florida State, Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson have a better record than the Thundering Hard since the beginning of 2013 (33-8).


Offense

Middle Tenneessee State sophomore quarterback Brent Stockstill may get more publicity, but Marshall signal caller Chase Litton isn't complaining about not receiving the limelight. Stockstill may be the better NFL prospect but Litton has more weapons around him and an offense that looks more balanced than the Blue Raider attack. I continue to talk about Middle Tennessee State because they figure to be the chief competition for the Thundering Herd in Conference USA for the upcoming season. Marshall may be going with more traditional two wide receiver sets in the upcoming year but Justin Hunt and Deon-Tay McManus know how to get open and how to catch the football. The depth at running back will be the key as we could see a total of four running backs eclipse the 500 yard rushing mark and seeing sigfinicant time. Why wouldn't Marshall pound the football? The Thundering Herd get tackle Clint Van Horn back for a sixth year and he leads a unit that is likely the best in the conference.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Clint Van Horn OT 6th Round 2017.

                                       Michael Selby OG UFA 2017.


Defense

Marshall surprised many pundits after finishing 10th in the nation in scoring defense with a stingy 17.8 PPG average. The challenge for the upcoming year is Marshall returns only 3 starters from last season. The secondary brings back only Tiquan Lang as Marshall will have to figure out how to replace the departed Corey Tindal, a player who left early for the NFL ranks. C.J. Reavis looks like he will start at safety as a junior-college transfer. If Rodney Allen and Antavis Rowe hold down the cornerback spots life will be easier for the rest of the defense. The defense looks devoid of a legitimate NFL prospect at this time and Marshall will need increased pressure along the line as the secondary gels. An interior presence from sophomore Nyquan Harris will go a long way. The 295-pound sophomore is a player the coaching staff continues to rave about and he could be the most consistent threat to opposing quarterbacks if he is quick as advertised coming off the line. Ryan Bee and Gary Thompson will provide plenty of rush along the edge but how they hold up against the run is a subject for debate heading into 2016. Devontre'a Tyler comes back after posting 51 tackles but expect those numbers to nearly double after the departure of Evan McKelvey.

Best Draft Prospects: Tiquan Lang S UFA 2017.

                                      Nyquan Harris DT UFA 2019.


Special Teams:

A little known fact about Marshall last season was they led the nation in special teams efficiency. After losing punter Tyler Williams and long-snapper Matt Cincotta a repeat in the area looks nearly impossible. Nick Smith is back at kicker, while he has yet to show the long leg, he is very accurate from within 35 yards and is more than capable of performing in the clutch.


Schedule:

Marshall gets three home games to start the season with week 3 against Louisville looking like the toughest task outside of Conference USA. Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky both have to travel to Marshall so the schedule is tipped in their favor for bringing home another conference championship.

Draft and Overall Outlook:

We don't see a large amount of NFL-calibur talent now but Marshall is famous for having at least one player emerge each and every year and playing a part on many boards come late April. Clint Van Horn was a prospect many teams looked hard at last year and now with the extra year of eligibability he will only be aided as he has the capacity to play multiple positions along the line. If Marshall can upset Louisville this is a team who with a few breaks in their favor could be a player for that at-large BCS bowl bid.

 

DJ Boyer