When Marshall broke camp in April, there were several questions still in the air. Could Michael Birdsong hold onto the starting job? Would the defensive backs be able to produce after losing Darryl Roberts? How would the tight end position be? Would the defensive line and linebackers be able to dominate after losing James Rouse and Neville Hewitt?
Two questions that were not asked were, how would the offensive line be, and would Devon Johnson be able to lead the running back crew again.
Everyone knows the answer to the Devon Johnson question. He came out looking like the DJ of old, got banged up, and never recovered. He has not been able to play in weeks, and the position has been taken over by wide receiver Hyleck Foster and freshman Keion Davis.
The one big question that has risen up is the offensive line. Marshall headed into the season expecting the starting line to be, from left to right, Sandley Jean Felix, Sebastian Johansson, Micheal Selby, Nate Devers and Clint Van Horn. This was to be one of the strengths of the team. Selby was moving over to take over for Jasperse, Johansson was a returning starter, and Van Horn was expected to be an NFL caliber right tackle. Jean Felix and Devers were highly rated and highly regarded lineman who would fill the other holes.
Thus far, only Jean Felix and Selby have played virtually every meaningful down, although Jean Felix did get dinged up late in the game at Middle Tennessee State.
Offensive line coach Alex Mirabal has had to pull out all the strings this year to piece together an offensive line to try and protect true freshman quarterback Chase Litton and the young running backs since the injury to Johnson.
This past Saturday the starting offensive line was Jean Felix, Johansson, Selby, Jordan Dowrey and AJ Addison. However, the Right guard and right tackle positions also saw Cody Collins and Federice Binot get ample snaps.
It should come as no surprise that this unit is committing multiple pre snap penalties which is causing the offense to start from behind the chains time after time.
Marshall has at least two games remaining, at home this week against FIU then on Black Friday in a big game on the road at Western Kentucky.
A look into the future of the offensive line will show that Marshall may only lose Johansson due to graduation. The Herd also has a shot to get Clint Van Horn back after a medical redshirt. The rest of the line, which is receiving a lot of playing time, will return. In addition, Marshall has the following offensive line commitments for the Recruiting Class of 2016:
Two Star Alex Mollette – 6’3”, 283 pounds from North Gwinnett High School
Two Star Alex Salguero – 6’3”, 292 pounds from Braden River High School, could be one of the steals of the class
Two Star Tarik Adams – A hulking 6’3”, 299 pound lineman from Lowndes High School.
Two Star Will Ulmer – Ulmer is a 6’4”, 288 pounder from Madison Central High School in Kentucky.
Freshman Levi Brown has made a huge impact at practice and has been travelling at times with the team as well and should make a big impact next year.
Mirabal has put together a very solid, and deep offensive line room, otherwise this season could have went down hill real fast, weeks ago. Instead, the Herd is 8 – 2, 5 – 1 in CUSA, with two games left. Win them both and they play for a third straight CUSA championship.
Stay tuned to Herdhaven.com for further updates and stories.