A Few Herd Questions

Fall camp for the Marshall Thundering Herd technically came to an end this past Saturday as the Herd battled through one final open to the public scrimmage. The results of scrimmage number two by most accounts favored the defense.

The offense dominated the first open scrimmage. From this point on, the gates are closed as the Herd prepares for the final edition of the Coal Bowl on September 1st.

Here is my take on some of the questions going into camp, and how they were answered, and some of the questions coming out of camp, and how they may or may not be answered.

First, a few questions leading into camp.

1. Has Rakeem Cato emerged as a leader at the quarterback position?

This has to be a resounding yes. Cato stepped up early and often, and not just in his play. He is clearly a team leader right now. He has no problem stepping in and helping anyone, whether it be an offensive player or even a defensive back. On one play earlier in camp, he was watching one on one drills between the receivers, and defensive backs. He actually went over and helped A.J. Leggett after one play.

2. Will the two safety transfers from Boston College get on the field? Will they play safety, or will one play safety while the other battles for playing time at nickel?

Leaving camp, two of the biggest positive aspects of camp was the emergence of senior transfers Dominick LeGrande, and his former teammate Okechuku Okoroha. They not only fit in quickly, but they have emerged as the starting strong and free safety. Personally, I think this is a great idea. They may not know the defense entirely yet, but they know the tendencies of each other which is very important at the safety position.

3. Will any of the new freshman class play during their first season on campus in Huntington?

Thus far, there are five that could see the field as true freshman. Running backs Kelvin Grooms and Steward Butler will definitely see playing time in some capacity, whether it be at running back, special teams, or both. Defensive back AJ Leggett could see some playing time as well, although the defensive back race is a good one. Safety Andre Scott is physically ready. I am not a coach but I would have to assume they would love to be able to redshirt him. Finally, Cameron Dees, Dees is currently battling for playing time at center.

4. Who will replace Vinny Curry?

Although it is likely that no one will replace what Vinny Curry brought to this team the past four years, there are a few guys battling to replace some of his production. The likely guys stepping into his roll will be former walk on Alex Bazzie, and sophomore Rashawde Myers. Both players have worked with the first unit opposite returning starter Jeremiah Taylor.

5. Will the linebackers be faster?

Yes

As someone who was privileged enough to get to watch quite a bit of fall camp, I left camp feeling that all of these questions were answered. I was very surprised and impressed with the overall team speed on the defensive side of the football. There were however, a few questions that I left camp with.

1. Are they veteran offensive players ready enough to put up big numbers this fall, most notably Travon Van, Tron Martinez, and Antavious Wilson?

My opinion is yes, they are. Wilson has had very good camp. Martinez and Van are proven backs who should be ready by the time the season rolls around.

2. Does the Herd have a punter?

I have been on the Tyler Williams bandwagon since spring. He has had many ups and downs, but he really came on strong at the end of camp. He seems to have really emerged out in front of fellow punting combatant, Austin Dumas. Williams is a good athlete with a big leg, capable of 60 yard punts, and 30 yard punts. I fully expect him to hold on to the punting duties.

3. Can Cameron Dees really be our back up center ?

No disrespect intended at all for Mr. Dees, but he is a true freshman, with only a few weeks in the program. If returning starter Chris Jasperse goes down, would the staff trust Dees to replace him? It seems like they do. Former center John Bruhin is now playing right guard, and has gotten no reps at center. Another center, Anthony Spano has also been moved to guard.

The back up center coming out of spring camp, Channing Smith, has left the program. Right now, it appears that the job is Dees' to lose, and he doesn't appear like the type of player that is going to relinquish the role anytime soon. In fact, he is putting pressure on Jasperse and making Jasperse work harder just to maintain his hold on the starting job. Dees has been a pleasant surprise this camp, and does not have the appearance of your typical freshman offensive lineman.

4. Who is Devon Smith?

We know he is the ultra fast slot receiver transfer from Penn State, but will we find out who he is this season, or will he redshirt. Smith transferred over from Penn State with his teammate Derrick Thomas. Thomas hit the field earlier than Smith, so Smith has been playing catch up.

Smith was the second leading receiver for Penn State last season so he most likely expects to come in and play. However, there is a log jam at the slot position right now with Andre Booker, Jermaine Kelson and Tommy Shuler. It should be noted that Smith, Kelson and Shuler all have a redshirt season to use, as they all played as true freshman.

Will this play into any decision making? Probably not, but it could. I don't know what to think of Smith, it is obvious he can fly, and he has excellent hands. Time will tell, and we will find out in less than two weeks.

5. Some other questions that remain are, Who will be the back up quarterback? Who will win the Left tackle position, and will Billy Rone make an impact?

Stay tuned to Herdhaven.com as we answer these and many more in the upcoming days.

The final question has to be what will the Herd finish in regards to wins and losses. I will have my predictions in the coming days.

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