Marshall travels to Kent Ohio today to take on the Kent Golden Flashes. Marshall enters the game with two wins and one loss, Kent on the other hand has one win and two losses, both against big 10 opponents (Illinois and Minnesota.) Doc Holliday said when he got to Marshall he wanted to build a program. Quite possibly, for the first time, today, fans will get to see just how far the program as a whole has come.
Depth will be a huge issue for the Herd this week as they battle injuries, and attrition.
Four to six weeks ago, the depth chart was littered with players like Angelo Jean Louis, AJ Leggett, Shawn Petty, Clint Van Horn, Nate Devers, and Michael Birdsong. Now, for whatever reason, those players are not on the depth chart.
Marshall will take on, statistically speaking, one of the best defenses it will face all season. Currently, Kent is giving up just 25 points per game, but that includes an opening week loss to Illinois who scored 52 of the 75 points the Flashes have surrendered this season. That stat is a little misleading as well, in regards to the ability of their defense. On Illinois first five touchdown drives, so 35 of the 52 points, the scoring drives were all less than 38 yards.
Kent has given up just 33 first downs all year, and they are stopping their opponents over 70% of the time when they try to convert first down on third down. Kent is allowing just 199 yards per game, and has only allowed 200 total rushing yards on the season.
So, now it is time to take a look back at the focal point of this article, depth.
Today, on offense, Marshall most likely could be starting a, second string quarterback, a third string slot receiver, a third string right guard and second/third string right tackle and there could be one additional game time decision, which Herdhaven will leave up to the fans to find out and report back.
Marshall lost quarterback Michael Birdsong to injury a couple weeks ago and will go with true freshman Chase Litton for his second consecutive start, and first on the road. DeAndre Reaves, just a few weeks ago was behind Hyleck Foster and four star super phenom Angelo Jean Louis at the slot position. Cody Collins and Tom Collins could make up the right side of the ball in place of former three star recruit Nate Devers and NFL prospect Clint Van Horn. Devers has been moved to center, and Van Horn has been battling nagging injuries.
The onus will be on Litton to not lose the ball game. He will need to make some plays, but limit the mistakes to a bare minimum.
On the defensive side of the ball, the hits haven’t been as hard, but a new addition to the “attrition” list was added this week when former four star, and NFL prospect, safety AJ Leggett departed the team. He had not been starting, instead, Tiquan Lang stole the position. Lang will be backed up by another four star safety, former Georgia commit Kendall Gant. Marshall is still without Maryland transfer Shawn Petty who was the starting middle linebacker all through camp before battling injuries in his own right, his return is still unknown.
How far has Coach Holliday developed this program. It has been good enough to win 23 games the last two seasons, two CUSA East titles, on CUSA title, and two bowl games, but the big question will come in a few hours when they travel on the road to take on a tough defense, with an offense that is short at least the aforementioned athletes.
Line - Marshall opened as an 11 point favorite and has dropped to a 6.5 favorite on the road.
My prediction: The Herd comes out fast and closes with a 38 to 3 win.
Stay tuned to Herdhaven.com throughout the day for updates and in game discussion.