Marshall Looks to Start Another Bowl Win Streak
By KYLE LUTZ
HUNTINGTON — After its five bowl-game winning streak was snapped during the 2016 season, Marshall got a reminder of what’s it’s like to hoist the hardware during the 2017 season. The Thundering Herd won six of their first seven games before dropping four of their last five. However, a 7-5 record was good enough to earn a trip to the Gildan New Mexico Bowl against Colorado State.
The Thundering Herd held off a furious Rams comeback in the fourth quarter to claim a 31-28 victory.
Coach Doc Holliday and the Thundering Herd hope they can start another streak of bowl victories as the 2018 season nears.
Marshall will open its season up with four non-conference games in Miami (Ohio), Eastern Kentucky, South Carolina and North Carolina State.
The Thundering Herd, however are going to have to replace Chase Litton at quarterback. Litton, who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent, had an impressive career with Marshall. He threw for 3,115 yards and 25 touchdowns compared to 14 interceptions during the 2017 season.
His career numbers were 8,332 passing yards to go along with 72 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. In each of his three seasons at Marshall as the starter, he completed at least 60 percent of his passes.
Redshirt freshman Isaiah Green looks to take over under center.
In the backfield, Tyler King, a redshirt sophomore and Keion Davis (redshirt senior) both return to handle the majority of the carriers. King led the way for Marshall last year with 820 yards on 158 attempts (5.2 avg) while finding the end zone seven times. Davis had similar numbers as he galloped for 812 yards on 179 attempts and six touchdowns.
Anthony Anderson looks to be the third string.
At receiver will be Willie Johnson (redshirt sophomore), Tyre Brady (redshirt senior), Marcel Williams (senior), Artie Henry III (freshman), Obi Oblalo (junior), Donquell Green (redshirt senior) and Nick Mathews (senior).
Brady led the receiving core last season as he hauled in 62 receptions for 942 yards and eight scores. Williams, a slot receiver, also had solid numbers with 41 catches for 512 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson had 36 catches for 443 yards and four scores.
With many players coming back, the Thundering Herd did lose Ryan Yurachek, who led the receiving core in touchdown receptions (10) last year. He is now with the Oakland Raiders.
The tight ends will be redshirt sophomore Cody Mitchell and redshirt junior Armani Levias.
On the line will be junior center Levi Brown, who was named to the Rimington Trophy watch list.
Redshirt junior Jordan Dowrey also returns to the line for the Thundering Herd. At left tackle is sophomore Will Ulmer while redshirt sophomore Alex Mollette takes over at right guard and Tarik Adams (redshirt sophomore) is at right tackle.
The Thundering Herd’s leading tackler from a year ago in Chase Hancock returns at middle linebacker. The redshirt senior compiled 128 total tackles (37 solo, 91 assists) to go along with 9.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks. Also at linebacker will be classmates Donyae Moody and Artis Johnson.
On the defensive line will be redshirt juniors Ty Tyler and Marquis Couch at defensive end. Ryan Bee, a redshirt senior will also add depth to the line as he totaled 51 tackles and 5.5 sacks last season.
Redshirt junior Channing Hames rounds out the projected starting defensive line.
Chris Jackson and Jaylon McClain-Sapp, both juniors, will be the cornerbacks. Jackson had a team-high three interceptions last year. He also returned a fumble for a touchdown.
At the safety position looks to be Malik Gant (redshirt junior) and Brandon Drayton (redshirt sophomore). Gant had 89 total tackles (40 solo, 49 assists) with five tackles for loss in 2017.
Redshirt sophomore Robert Lefevre will handle punting duties while redshirt junior Justin Rohrwasser will be the kicker. Matt Beardall is the long snapper.
Brown, Brady, Hancock, Gant and Beardall all were named Preseason All-Conference USA Team.
Locally, Weir’s Domenick Murphy and Magnolia’s Brooks Parsons are on the Thundering Herd’s roster. Cameron’s Colby Brown will also be a walk-on, but won’t be joining the team until January.