HUNTINGTON, W.Va— There were no major surprises when Doc Holliday released the first depth chart of the 2013 season but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any intrigue. Look through the depth chart and he word “or” appears several times.
In fact, seven of the 11 positions on defense have “or” starters listed for Saturday’s opener with Miami (OH). For instance, at the “X” receiver position Marshall has listed Davonte Allen OR Devon Smith. At nose tackle, Brandon Sparrow or Jarquez Samuel.
Obviously it means The Herd could go with either player come kickoff Saturday night versus the Miami Redhawks but this year the little two letter conjunction has a different meaning than Doc Holliday’s previous three seasons as head coach.
Since 2010, listing more than one name as at a starting position generally meant the coaching staff couldn’t decide on a starter because no one had propelled themselves to be the clear cut starter.
The exact opposite is the case this season according to Holliday, who believes he has several positions with more than just one starter.
“We’ve got three tailbacks that are going to play for the most part and possibly four. There are three or four linebackers we’re going to roll in there and there’s seven or eight offensive linemen that are going to roll in there,” says Holliday. “We’re going to have a few more players with significant roles that we didn’t a year a go as far as depth goes.”
Senior Essray Taliaferro is listed as the starting tailback or sophomore Kevin Grooms. Up front along the offensive line Sebastian Johansson or Josh Lovell is listed as the starting guard.
Get the drift?
Ra’Shawde Myers is penciled in behind Jeremiah Taylor and Alex Bazzie as an “or” starter on both sides of the defensive line. Holliday insists its because he’s earned the chance to play anywhere along the line.
“A year ago he’s 215 or 220 pounds. He’s about 245 pounds right now and he’s had an excellent camp and he’s as good as those other guys right now and deserves to play,” says Holliday. “The reason he’s ‘or’ both places is because he can be the rush or drop end.”
Holliday hasn’t come close in his previous three seasons with The Herd to having the depth he feels he has to work with this year. In fact, Holliday says he can’t remember listing this many “or’s” since looking at the depth chart while working as an assistant at the University of Florida.
“If you look at the safety position there’s three guys there we think we can play with. At the corners there four or five guys there we think can play,” says Holliday. “It gives us an opportunity to play a lot more people which is good.”
Holliday’s staff feels there little to no drop off between the players that will be rotating in and out, something Marshall has not had the luxury of having for the better part of the last decade.