Spring Practice is Here

The day is finally here for Marshall fans. Football season. It has been a long time since the Herd lost a heartbreaking season ending overtime offensive slugfest at ECU. Its tough to stomach scoring 59 points on the road and losing a chance to go bowling.

This team had gotten a taste of post season play the year before as the enjoyed a late December trip to the Florida Sunshine and brought home a Bowl Trophy as they celebrated near many of their hometowns. Last year was not to be, as the defense struggled at times, and when the defense stepped up at the end of some games, the offense simply couldn't convert, see Ohio and Tulsa games as reference.

There in lies the reason behind so many defensive questions heading into spring practice. The number one question is going to be how new Defensive coordinator Chuck Heater gets the Herd prepared for a turn around on the defensive side of the football. Time will tell as the Herd pushes forward what this system will be, and how the pieces will be put together. Below I have broken down what I think are eight important questions that Marshall fans would like to have an answer on this spring. Most fans would like to have answers on them by the end of the first practice today.

Here we go:

Who will be playing linebacker?

Returning are Jermaine Holmes, Cortez Carter, Deon Meadows, Raheem Waiters, and Evan McKelvey. Waithers and McKelvey are coming off injuries so their spring practice could be limited which should open up the way for new comers Kent Turene and Stefan Houston to step in and get plenty of reps. One of my previous concerns was that Turene may not be able to go this spring due to an injury, that appears to not be the case.

Will Shawney Kersey make an impact?

Kersey is a outside receiver who has transferred from Penn State. He will have one season to make an impact for the Herd. Most Herd fans would like to go into the summer knowing that his impact has been felt and that he has moved into the two deep. He will have to battle Demetrius Evans and Craig Wilkins for starting reps however.

Is Rashawde Myers still with the team?

The ultra talented defensive end should be with the team, and no mention of his departure has ever been formally made. He was however referred to in a newspaper article this winter as, "former Marshall player, " Rashawde Myers. This question should be answered this week.

Other than Marques Aiken and Jermaine Kelson, are their any other departures?

Aiken has left the program as a graduate, and Kelson for personal reasons. Aiken was expected to play a big roll in Heater's defense, his departure will be felt, however there are reinforcements in Brandon Sparrow, Steve Dillon, Jarquez Samuel, James Rouse and this fall Josh Brown. Kelson was a seldom used wide receiver but a big impact on special teams. He will be able to transfer and play as he was never redshirted. Will anyone else leave? This is another question that could be answered today.

Is quarterback, Rakeem Cato's Knee healthy?

Cato was last seen begging to play at ECU, only to go in for a couple plays before heading back to the sideline. The gritty competitor should be good to go, but just how much the All CUSA quarterback will go this spring remains to be seen. Marshall has an early enrollee, Kevin Anderson, on campus to play qb with Blake Frohnapfel and Gunnar Holcombe.

How good are incoming safeties Taj Letman and Stefan Houston?

As has been mentioned many times on this site, Letman is expected to step in and start right away at one of the two safety positions. With D.J. Hunter moving back to safety from his linebacker position last season, they could form a dynamic combination. Houston is expected to add a safety type of a body to the outside linebacker position and will allow the Herd to have a very fast, very athletic defense in a conference where stops are at a premium.

How will James Rouse look? Rouse has battled many injuries in his career. Rouse started his career as a 6'5", barely 200 pound linebacker/safety. He has been moved to defensive end and has played some defensive tackle. With departures, and/or possible departures at both line positions, his health will be important.

How does the team react to the new coaching staff?

The staff has six new faces on it, with only Todd Hartley, JC Price, and Bill Legg returning from last season. The new members are Heater, Adam Fuller, Mike Furrey, Alex Mirabel, Thomas Brown and Sean Cronin. A quick, natural bond will be a must in order for this staff to be able to move in quickly and efficiently.

These are just some of the important questions that fans will monitor along with the media this spring.

Practice is today at 315pm, regardless of weather. It is open to the public, however, fans will have to set on the East side of the stadium due to work being done on the new Luxury Suites.

Stay tuned to Herdhaven.com for spring practice updates.

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