Marshall ended the regular season on a down note, losing the CUSA East championship on the road to Western Kentucky. Still, many things were accomplished in the 2015 season. Marshall lost a lot from last years championship squad. The Herd lost offensive players such as Rakeem Cato, Tommy Shuler and Chris Jasperse to graduation. They lost NFL players Darryl Roberts and Neville Hewitt and James Rouse to graduation.
Prior to the start of the season, the Herd lost running back Steward Butler, and wide receiver Angelo Jean Louis. Shortly after the start of the season, AJ Leggett left the team for unspecified reasons. Then, once the season got underway, the Herd lost arguably its two biggest NFL prospects to injury in ALL CUSA running back Devon Johnson and ALL CUSA offensive tackle Clint Van Horn.
Still the Herd moved forward. In game two, starting quarterback Michael Birdsong went down to injury which meant in game three, true freshman Chase Litton would get his first start.
Still the Herd moved on. By the time the season was over, they were 9 – 3, all three losses on the road, one came late at Ohio, one was in three overtimes at MTSU, and then the loss to a good WKU team on Black Friday.
Doc Holliday is to be commended for the work he and his staff did holding this season together. Marshall now prepares to find out which bowl they will attend. It will be the third bowl in a row, and the fourth in five years. Marshall has not lost in a bowl game since 2004, and has only lost three in school history, against 8 wins.
Now it is time for Herdhaven.com to lay out some regular season accolades.
Freshman of the Year:
Offense – Chase Litton – Litton won 8 games as a starter and lost two. He ended the year completing 307 of 349 passes for 2,387 yards, 22 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Excluding sacks, he rushed for an addition 141 yards.
Defense – Ryan Bee – Bee had a strong spring and summer camp, but still didn’t break into the rotation until later on in the year. By the time it was all said and done he finished 7th on the team in tackles with 56 total tackles. He had 7.5 tackles for loss, good for second on the team. He also tallied 3 sacks, 2 pass break ups, 3 fumble recoveries, and 1 big time, game changing blocked field goal early on against Southern Miss.
Offensive Player of the Year – Litton, see stats above. No one else stood out enough in a game changing roll to warrant taking over Litton. Tight end Ryan Yurachek would be close.
Offensive Go To Player of the Year – Yurachek. Whenever Litton needed to make a play, get a first down, or complete a big play for a touchdown, Yurachek was there. He ended the year with 39 catches, 361 yards and a team leading 8 touchdowns.
Defensive Player of the Year- Evan McKelvey, the senior linebacker coming off multiple injuries ended the year with a team leading 113 tackles. He was at or near the top in the nation in total tackles until late in the year. He also had 9 tackles for loss, 1 interception, 9 pass break ups, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovers.
Gary Thompson is also the Herdhaven Defensive player of the year. Thompson only accumulated 57 tackles, but he had a team leading 11.5 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 4 pass break ups, 1 fumble recovery. He also was second in the nation with 5 forced fumbles.
Special Teams Player of the Year – DeAndre Reaves. Reaves should also be the CUSA Special Teams Player of the Year. He returned one punt and two kickoffs for touchdowns this year.
Most Exciting Moment – The second pick six by Tiquan Lang in the win over Purdue. The crowd erupted when the interception was made, then, as the return played out, the noise actually escalated. When Lang crossed into the endzone the noise was by far the loudest The Joan has ever heard.
Most Deflating Moment – Missed 32 yard field goal at Middle Tennessee State. The Herd played awful, should not have been in the game, but somehow, someway, managed to find itself lining up for a 32 yard game winner. It failed, and the Herd lost three overtimes later when another kick was blocked.
The Here we go again Moment – At Ohio. Nothing else needs to be said.
Biggest win of the Year – Marshall beat Purdue in the opening game for its first ever win over a Big 10 team, but that was not the biggest win of the year. The biggest win of the year came when Marshall destroyed the CUSA West division champions 31 to 10 at home. Marshall would be Southern Miss’s only CUSA defeat on the year heading into their game this week at WKU. This is the second time in recent memory Marshall has dealt the Golden Eagles their only CUSA loss of the year.
2015 is not over. Marshall still has a chance in the bowl game to grab its 10th win, which would be three straight years with double digit victories.
Stay tuned to Herdhaven.com for further updates and stories.