First question: Riddle me this, Herd fans, can Stan be "The Man" at quarterback for the Herd this fall?
Answer: A Mr P. N Guinn writes, "Yes. Marshall fans have notriously short memories. This is the same question they asked in 1983 (Fodor), 1985 (Petersen), 1988 (Gregory), 1990 (Payton), 1993 (Donnan), 1995 (Pennington) and 2000 (Leftwich). Stan will never fill Byron's shoes (he wears a 12, BL a 9 1/2), but what he brings to the position, a quality most of these other quarterbacks never did gain until their first game, is a "Big Game Win" experience. Hill's win over Miami in the ESPN game of 2002 showed he can make the plays, he was like an iceman on the final drive in the 36-34 win. Now that he is the number one quarterback, I expect his off-field behavior to fall under the umbrella of what happens on the field-making great decisions and occasionally running away from trouble."
Question: What has five heads, weighs nearly 1,500 pounds and must provide the best protection found outside ot the bedroom?
Answer: J. Oker laughingly replies, "What is, you Alex Tree-beck wanna-be, the Marshall offensive line, and I might add they do not offend me. Three starters, including center Joey Stepp (who can impersonate a center, guard or tackle), Luke Salmons and Nate McPeek. If Toby Bullock, Nathan Leslie, Nate Griffin, Seth Cook, Jesse Saito and others continue to improve in August like they did in the spring, not only will the MU quarterbacks have time to throw but the running game will becomed a fearsome part of the Herd's offense. This will not leave opposing defensive coordinators laughing at their video terminals. This group will become like powerful navy fleet of interchangable ships under Coach McHale, sailing through MAC defenses."
Question: Can the running game really become fearsome to Herd opponents?
Answer: Professor Jonathan Crane writes, "Of course, you would have to have your head filled with straw, like a scarecrow, not to see this coming in 2003. A healthy Butchie Wallace, who is being pushed by Junior College All-American Earl Charles, freshman "Tank" Tunstalle and Pittsburgh transfer James Johnson, will help to form the Herd's new "Gang of Four." Fear the apocalypse from these horses."
Question: It has been cat and mouse between Marshall's return men and the ball. Will the new faces quit pouncing on drops, just putting the ball away and sprinting like a tiger upfield?
Answer: A Miss Kyle purrs, "Per-fectly put, Mr. E. Of course, there will be improved return games or Coach Pruett will skin some cats on the return teams. Look for Coach Lou Annarumo, appointed to run the special teams after 2002, to roar like a lion if Roberto Terrell, Wilbur Hargrove, Chris Royal or one of the freshmen-Huntington's Hiram Moore or Morgantown's Geramy Rodamer, for example)-does not make the Herd improve from the bottom of the box in both MAC punt returns and kickoff returns."
Question: What about the defensive's split personality, when it comes to stopping the run (eleventh in MAC) and the pass (number one in the league)?
Answer: Harvey Dent is torn about the Herd fans who worry about the defense. "The team was number two, a very good number, in the MAC in total defense, and will play five of the teams ranked behind the Herd in MAC passing offense. Marshall only plays three of the top six league rushing teams (Ohio-1, Kent State-3 and Toledo-4). It is almost two-faced to turn on a defense that held opponents to nearly 2,000 yards less than MU put up on offense in 2002, with a one-legged quarterback for much of the late season. Scoring is what wins or loses game. The Herd was number one in scoring defense, allowing a MAC low 24.2 points per game. I'd flip if the defense is not faster and even better at stopping the run with a healthy Toriano Brown and 290-pound Reggie Hayer at tackles and the four-man ends of Jonathan Goddard, Maurice McKinney, Marcus Hairston and All-MAC preseason selection Jamus Martin. They are backed by a sensational list of quick linebackers, including lone senior Charlie Tynes, Donte' Newsome, Kevin Atkins, Damarcus Thomas and J.T. Rembert."
Question: Can a retooled secondary, with three new starters, be the killers that Crocker, Satterwhite and Tarpley were?
Answer: C. Roc clawed this one out for us, "First, you have a senior with lots of experience at rover in Gladstone Coke. Robert Terrell, only a junior, returns at one corner and Willie Smith, maybe the best defensive back on the team, will start on the right side after numerous series in the "nickle" package in 2002. Finally, Moriah Anderson has started at free safety, but he is being pushed hard by junior college transfer Lonnie McCowan. To think Marshall will not be among the leaders in pass defense, well, is just a crock (and no, it is not the croc on the Florida Gators 2003 football media guide, either)."
Question: Will the kicking game be put on ice with the graduation of kicker/punter Curtis Head to the frozen north of the Canadian Football League?
Answer: vICtor Freese gave me a frozen stare when I asked him this one. "It gives me cold shivers to think about fans who do not trust Bob Pruett not to be caught without a "ice-water-in-the-veins" type of kicker and punter. Freshman prospects include Ian O'Connor, Ryan Wykoff and Klint Rose, while Nick Kelly and senior Ben Lewis are back. Lewis, who averaged 39 yards per punt in the Bufalo game in 2002 and nearly 45 yards per punt in the spring game, was also 2-2 on point-after-touchdowns in the rout of the Bulls. Just chill, and wait until the (ice) cream rises to the top during August practice. Remeber, Head was a true freshman who iced one out of the Marshall endzone for his first punt verses Clemson in 1999."
Final question: Can Marshall keep the "bling-bling" on the shelves and fingers of Huntington in 2003?
Answer: "It would be criminal to think otherwise." Mr. E, gone for now but look for me to cave in and start asking the questions Herd fans are being driven batty by later in August. Until then, do not let the naysayers be robbin' you of your support for the Herd in 2003 (With apologies to Bob Kane, Adam West and the entire DC Comics Universe).