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Marshall had a huge season in 2014 and surprisingly didn't drop off much in 2015, finishing 10-3 with a win over Connecticut in the St. Petersburg Bowl. The Thundering Herd lose a lot on both sides of the ball, but at least return their starting quarterback, so competing for the C-USA East isn't completely out of the question.
Chase Litton is back under center after a solid freshman season racking up 23 TDs and 8 INTs, while completing 60.1% of his passes. A lot of his help is gone in the skill department, but Marshall isn't lacking for talent. Justin Hunt (295 yards, 4 TDs) and Deon-Tay McManus (35 receptions, 334 yards) step into starting WR roles while tight ends Ryan Yurachek (44 receptions, 417 yards, 9 TDs) and Emanuel Byrd are still there to help out.
Top running back Devon Johnson is gone, but he was hurt for a good portion last year, so his loss won't be felt as much. Hyleck Foster (453 yards, 3 TDs), Keion Davis (331 yards, 2 TDs) and Tony Pittman (327 yards, 3 TDs) will likely share carries, similar to what they did last year. And there's no reason to expect a drop off in either department with the offensive line expected to be one of the best in the conference led by Michael Selby and Clint Van Horn. The Herd will return five players along the line that saw starting experience last year.
Marshall had the best defense in Conference USA last year, allowing just 17.8 points per game, but lose a lot of talent from that group. They'll have pieces to work with, but also a lot of holes. Ryan Bee and Gary Thompson are two of the best at end to go with senior linebacker Devontre'a Tyler. But outside of those guys, there are more questions than answers.
The secondary is in a similar place with two new cornerbacks getting replaced by two juniors, who have limited starting experience. Safety is at least set with C.J. Reavis and Tiquan Lang.
The Thundering Herd may step back on the defensive side, but it shouldn't be too much. They'll get challenged with two non-conference games against ACC opponents, although they do get Louisville at home. Akron won't be an easy game either as Marshall lost to Ohio last season from the MAC. In conference play, the Herd have a mostly favorable schedule with Southern Miss being their only overly difficult road game. Winning the East division will require them to beat Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky, their two losses a year ago. But getting them both at home should help a bit.
Marshall's over/under at 5Dimes was 8.5 with the over at -210 in July. Reaching 10 wins again shouldn't be out of consideration for this team just yet. In addition, they are favored to win the East, so getting the C-USA title game and a bowl game should help in reaching nine wins. The Herd should reach at least six conference wins again and it'll just depend on how a more difficult non-conference slate treats them.
2016 Marshall Thundering Herd Football Schedule
Sept. 10 vs. Morgan State
Sept. 17 vs. Akron
Sept. 24 vs. Louisville
Oct. 1 at Pittsburgh
Oct. 8 at North Texas
Oct. 15 vs. Florida Atlantic
Oct. 22 vs. Charlotte
Oct. 29 at Southern Miss
Nov. 5 at Old Dominion
Nov. 12 vs. Middle Tennessee
Nov. 19 at Florida International
Nov. 26 vs. Western Kentucky
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