CoogFans' Opponent Preview - Marshall

After winning just 12 games over the last three years, Marshall and Coach Mark Snyder have to win right now. With eight starters returning on both sides of the ball, the team has the experience to reach a bowl game, but the Herd will need to get more production from their running backs.

Marshall Thundering Herd
Conference USA

2007 Record: (3-9, 3-5)
2007 Bowl: none
Coach: Mark Snyder (12-23 at Marshall, 12-23 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: John Shannon
Defensive Coordinator: Rick Minter

Returning Leaders: Rushing: Darius Marshall, RB, 631 yards
Passing: Brian Anderson, QB, 94 yards
Receiving: Cody Slate, TE, 818 yards
Tackles: C.J. Spillman, S, 131
Sacks: Maurice Kitchens, LB, 4.0
Interceptions: Maurice Kitchens, LB, 1; John Saunders, S, 1

Other Key Returnees: OT Daniel Baldridge, DT James Burkes, G Josh Evans, S Ashton Hall, LB Mario Harvey, LB Ian Hoskins, DE John Jacobs, CB J.J. Johnson, C Brian Leggett, CB Zearrick Matthews, DT Shane Moore, WR Darius Passmore, WR Emmanuel Spann, WR E.J. Wynn

Key Losses: K Anthony Binswanger, OT John Inman, LB Josh Johnson, C Doug Legursky, QB Bernard Morris, TE Brian Shope, DT Byron Tinker, DT Ryland Wilson, G David Ziegler

After winning just 12 games over the last three years, Marshall and Coach Mark Snyder have to win right now. With eight starters returning on both sides of the ball, the team has the experience to reach a bowl game, but the Herd will need to get more production from their running backs. Darius Marshall has the experience, but Chubb Small has potential and Terrell Edwards and Kelvin Turner were the stars of the spring.

Strengths:
The defense was not very good last year, but with most of the talent back and an influx of junior college talent, it should be better. However, the reason the defense could be special is because of the return of 2006 C-USA Defensive Player of the Year Albert McClellan. The defensive end went down with a knee injury prior to the 2007 campaign and, if he is fully healthy, will have a huge impact on the team. Marshall had a horrible time at causing pressure on the quarterback and McClellan certainly has the ability to fix that problem. Maurice Kitchens leads a relatively inexperienced group of linebackers, but at least there is some talent and depth to work with this year. Safety C.J. Spillman led the team in tackles and the safety spots have plenty of depth with Ashton Hall, John Saunders and Aaron Johnson, all of whom have starting experience.

Weaknesses:
The problem with the defense was turnovers. The team only forced seven on the season, easily the worst in the nation. The lack of backfield pressure certainly did not help, and the Thundering Herd hope that will change now with McClellan back, but the rest of the defense has to help. Bernard Morris was not the best quarterback in the conference, but he was a decent starter. Now that he is gone, Marshall has to find a new quarterback. But they do not lack options…that is for sure. Brian Anderson and Wesley Beardain were last year's backups. Redshirt freshman Mark Cann had an impressive spring and completed 16 of 21 passes during the Green and White spring contest. Fellow freshman Chris Smith was a highly touted player who can do damage with his arm and legs and Georgia Tech transfer Jonathan Garner is full of potential. No matter who the quarterback ends up being, the key will be finding some consistency under the center.

The Bottom Line:
With receivers Darius Passmore, Emmanuel Spann and E.J. Wynn returning, the quarterback's job should be a little easier. However, the best piece of the puzzle is tight end Cody Slate. Slate led the team with 66 receptions for 818 yards and five touchdowns. Having a target like the 6-4, 220 pound Slate is the main reason this offense continues to move the ball. And that will not end this year even with a new quarterback.

2007 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 141.75 (70th in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 271.08 (29, 6)
Total Offense: 412.83 (44, 6)
Scoring Offense: 24.83 (77, 10)
Rushing Defense: 191.00 (93, 7)
Pass Defense: 259.83 (100, 6)
Total Defense: 450.83 (107, 7)
Scoring Defense: 34.25 (102, 8)
Turnover Margin: -.83 (107, 12)
Sacks: 1.08 (112, 12)
Sacks Allowed: 3.17 (108, 12)


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