Marshall bounced back in 2017 with an 8-5 record that includeda bowl win over Colorado State. A similar season is expected with numerous starters returning on both sides of the ball. Two new coordinators take over, but Tim Cramsey should only help the offense and Adam Fuller won’t change much after serving in smaller roles since 2013. The Thundering Herd are considered FAU’s biggest challenge with +425 odds to win Conference-USA along with an over/under of eight wins at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Running Cramsey’s spread offense is Wagner graduate transfer Alex Thomson, who is getting maybe a little much praise in the offseason. The pro-style quarterback missed most of last year with an injury and managed a 57% completion rate with 16 touchdowns and five picks in his best season at Wagner. At the least, Marshall has a ton of weapons to work with led by top wide outs Tyre Brady (942 yards, 8 TDs), Marcel Williams (512 yards) and Willie Johnson (443 yards). The rushing attack was the biggest problem last year at only 4.0 yards per carry, but with Four starters back on the line, that area should improve. It also helps that top running backs Tyler King (820 yards, 7 TDs) and Keion Davis (812 yards, 6 TDs) return. This offense managed a disappointing 26.7 points per Game last year, but that number could jump if Thomson is as good as advertised.
The defense should be just as good, as well, after allowing less than 20 points per Game. With 10 returning starters, the Herd are solid at every level. The group is filled with experienced playmakers with linebacker Chase Hancock the head of everything after leading the team in tackles and doing a little bit of everything else. Ryan Bee and Channing Hames are studs up the middle not only in stopping the run, but also getting to the quarterback. The secondary doesn’t have a senior, but everyone has starting experience and sophomore Brandon Drayton was stout at safety last season in limited time.
Marshall lost Four of its final five Games last year, but all of them could’ve been wins, even the 30-25 loss at FAU. With loads of returning starters, the Herd will be looking to steal the Conference title away from FAU and home Games against both FAU and MTSU will help that. They have a couple difficult non-Conference tests, but as seen in the over/under, many are expecting Marshall to run through the C-USA, similar to the first half of last year. That will require Thomson to do a little more than Chase Litton did a year ago and get Marshall to at least 30 points per Game. If that can happen, they’ll be one of the better teams in the Conference on both sides of the ball.
2018 Marshall Thundering Herd Football Schedule
Sept. 1 at Miami (OH)
Sept. 8 vs. Eastern Kentucky
Sept. 15 at South Carolina
Sept. 22 vs. NC State
Sept. 29 at Western Kentucky
Oct. 5 vs. Middle Tennessee
Oct. 13 at Old Dominion
Oct. 20 vs. Florida Atlantic
Nov. 3 at Southern Miss
Nov. 10 vs. Charlotte
Nov. 17 vs. UTSA
Nov. 24 at Florida International