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2010 Marshall Preview
Marshall WR Antavious-Wilson
Marshall WR Antavious-Wilson
Posted Jul 12, 2010 2010 Preview - Marshall Thundering Herd

Marshall Thundering Herd

Preview 2010

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By Richard Cirminiello

Head coach: Doc Holliday
First year: 0-0
Returning Lettermen
Off. 23, Def. 20, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 15
Ten Best Marshall Players
1. LB Mario Harvey, Sr.
2. WR Antavious Wilson, Soph.
3. DE Vinny Curry, Jr.
4. TE Lee Smith, Sr.
5. LB Kellen Harris, Jr.
6. RB Martin Ward, Soph.
7. C Chad Schofield, Sr.
8. DT Michael Janac, Sr.
9. FS Omar Brown, Jr.
10. CB Ahmed Shakoor, Jr.
2010 Schedule

Sept. 5 at East Carolina
Sept. 11 Bowling Green
Sept. 18 at Oklahoma St
Sept. 25 Central Arkansas
Oct. 2 at Memphis
Oct. 9 at SMU
Oct. 16 Tulane
Oct. 30 at Notre Dame
Nov. 6 Rice
Nov. 13 at Houston
Nov. 20 UTEP
Nov. 26 Southern Miss

Seeking a new course for the football program, Marshall is seeking medical help.

After five seasons of mediocrity, the Herd pulled the plug on underachieving head coach Mark Snyder, replacing him with Doc Holliday. Holliday brings almost three decades of experience as an assistant and a well-earned reputation as an ace recruiter at places like West Virginia, Florida, and NC State. He’ll need to tap into all of his persuasive skills in order to ignite the flame under a program that’s had just one winning season over the last six years.

Oddly enough considering the circumstances, that lone winning season occurred in 2009. The Herd unexpectedly nudged above the .500 mark by defeating Ohio in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and going 7-6. By that point, however, Snyder had already been dismissed and a new era in Huntington was underway. In general, the program has always done a nice job of attracting quality athletes, often reaching as far south as Georgia and Florida for players. Still, things haven’t gelled in quite some time, and the inability to find a successor at quarterback has plagued the school since Byron Leftwich left just before the dry run began. The futility behind center explains why so many surrounding the school are buzzing about the arrival of Willy Korn, the former blue-chipper from Clemson. With competent play at quarterback, there’s a feeling Marshall has enough talent elsewhere to get in the hunt in a wide-open East Division.

With each passing year, Marshall moves further away from the glory days when league titles were a minimum requirement. Despite having no experience as a head coach, it’s now up to Holliday to press the reset button and gradually begin turning things around for the Herd.

What to watch for on offense: The emergence of Martin Ward as the feature back. Sure, it would be nice to have Darius Marshall back for one more season, but don’t be shocked if he winds up being better than his predecessor. When Marshall went down late last year, Ward stepped in as a redshirt freshman and ran with authority and confidence. Now that he’s been installed as the go-to guy out of the backfield, he’ll have an opportunity to showcase his myriad skills and make a legitimate run at a 1,000-yard season. Although Marshall will be missed, it won’t be as much as many anticipate.

What to watch for on defense: The pass rush. In light of the expected secondary problems, the Herd simply has to do a better job of pressuring the pocket without turning loose linebackers and safeties. On one side, fast rising junior Vinny Curry is expected to do his part after getting all-league honorable mention recognition. However, he can’t be alone in this pursuit, meaning it’s up to DeMetrius Thompson, John Youboty, and James Rouse to provide a spark and prevent double-teams.

This team will be far better if … the offense can navigate the red zone with greater efficiency. Generally, when the Herd was falling short in 2009, it was having problems finishing drives. Marshall averaged a mere 21 points a game, 16 in its six losses, which is not going to cut it in a league built on offensive firepower. While the program doesn’t have to be Houston in order to improve, it does have to do a better job of reaching the end zone and closing out games when the opportunity exists to do so.

The Schedule: The Doc Holliday era will have a rude opening with Ohio State and West Virginia to start, and kicking off Conference USA play won’t be a peach with trips to Southern Miss and East Carolina, and a home date with UCF, in the first three weeks. Getting Tulane from the West if a major help, but going to SMU will be rough. Missing Houston and Tulsa is a major break. It’s an every other game slate alternating between home and road dates with no two in a row on either side.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore WR Antavious Wilson. No disrespect to Wilson, who’s coming a terrific debut, but depending upon what happens in the backfield, this could change by October. The second-year player ably filled the void at wide receiver in 2009, catching a team-best 60 passes for 724 yards and three scores. Best of all, he has great hands and was peaking toward the end of his first season.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Mario Harvey. Harvey plays the game as if he’s a bowling ball, using opposing players like the pins. Solid in all areas of the game, but especially as a run defender, he parlayed a team-best 117 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, and 10 quarterback hurries into a spot on the All-Conference USA first team. No ordinary Herd defender, he’s a next-level linebacker determined to use his final year to elevate his team and his draft grade.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Willy Korn. Unfair? Possibly. The reality is that Marshall needs something special under center in order to move the program forward. Although he’s yet to even participate in a practice, the transfer from Clemson has the ingredients to be that guy. If the Herd remains ordinary at the position, it’ll have a ripple effect throughout the program. Ditto if Korn can start playing like the dual-threat hurler, who everyone wanted to sign three years ago.

The season will be a success if ... Marshall posts a winning mark and goes bowling for a second straight year. The Herd is going to take baby steps under Holliday, which begins with building momentum and a winning attitude. If all goes right, copping the East is well within reach, but actually winning the division isn’t where the bar rests in the first season with a new coaching staff.

Key game: Oct. 2 at Southern Miss. While dates with Ohio State and West Virginia jump off the schedule, the visit to Hattiesburg provides an opportunity to alter the expected pecking order in the division. With an upset here and 11 days before UCF visits, Marshall will have a chance to spend the second half of the year as the hunted in the East Division.

2009 Fun Stats:
- Penalty yards per game: Marshall 68.7 – Opponents 57.3
- Average yards per punt: Marshall 38.4 – Opponents 43.0
- Time of possession: Marshall 32:22 - Opponents 27:38

- 2010 Marshall Preview | 2010 Marshall Offense
- 2010 Marshall Defense | 2010 Marshall Depth Chart
- Marshall Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006