— By Bill Cornwell
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — With preseason drills reaching the midway point for Marshall, Thundering Herd head coach Doc Holliday and his staff continue to search for more consistent play on both sides of the ball.
The Herd will scrimmage this weekend, just two weeks before Marshall opens the 2019 season against the VMI Keydets at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
Scrimmage work last week featured a Herd offense that looked relatively sharp, especially behind the throws of quarterbacks Isaiah Green and Alex Thomson.
The pair of signal callers got the ball into the hands of multiple receivers as Marshall looks to build wideout depth to bolster veteran receivers such as Obi Obialo, Willie Johnson and the still-developing Artie Henry.
One new member of the receiving corps, Kentucky transfer Tavin Richardson, has been especially productive in early workouts.
Marshall’s offense could be fun to watch this fall. Offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey unveiled many new plays and formations in recent practice sessions. The Herd’s offense was more vanilla last year while Cramsey worked with a redshirt freshman quarterback in Green and Thomson, who was playing his first season at Marshall after transferring.
Defensive progress in the first two weeks has been spotty as several new players work their way into key roles.
Among newcomers likely to be featured on defense are Florida International transfer Fermin Silva on the front, along with Rodney Croom and Jamare Edwards. Marshall is less vulnerable at linebacker and defensive back, as the Herd has plenty of experience at both spots.
Holliday puts a great deal of importance on special teams play and Marshall is getting plenty of work in the kicking game as the coaching staff looks for reliable returners. Johnson and Tyler King could be key return men, while several positional starters are likely to find themselves on special teams based on Holliday’s past tendencies.
This weekend marks the end of open practices end. In addition, Herd freshmen will be taking part in the university’s annual Week of Welcome activities next week.
Classes begin at Marshall on August 26 for the fall semester.
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Obialo received a ‘Texas-sized’ honor this week as he was named to the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Watch List.
The honor recognizes the top offensive player in Division I football who also exhibits the enduring characteristics that define Earl Campbell: integrity, performance, teamwork, sportsmanship, drive, community and tenacity; specifically, tenacity to persist and determination to overcome adversity and injury in pursuit of reaching goals.
In addition, the nominee must meet one or more of the following criteria: Born in Texas and/or graduated from a Texas High School and/or played at a Texas-based junior college or four-year college.
Obialo, a Coppell, Texas native, finished the 2018 season with 42 receptions for 505 yards and four touchdowns. In 2018, he was named a team captain four times and started all 13 games.
The watch list will be narrowed to up to 16 semifinalists in November and then up to five finalists in December. The award will be presented at a banquet next January 15th.
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The Kanawha Valley’s Herd faithful will be donning their Kelly Green next week as one of the most popular preseason events takes place — ‘Paint the Capital City Green.’
The event, sponsored by the Marshall Quarterback Club of Charleston, takes place August 22 at 6:30 p.m., at the Embassy Suites in Charleston.
Marshall football players and coaches will be on hand for the event, which is usually a sellout. Herd cheerleaders, Marco the Marshall mascot and members of the Marching Thunder Band also attend.