HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Expectations around the Marshall football team are high but coach Doc Holliday said they wouldn’t have it any other way.
MU has been selected to win Conference USA’s East division this preseason and compete for a conference title. The Thundering Herd open its football season at home on Saturday against VMI with kickoff scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
“I have always said I do not want to be anywhere where expectations and standards are not extremely high,” Holliday said on Monday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline.’ “They are here so we will embrace those and go to work every day and see what happens.”
Holliday, headed into his 10th season as head coach of the Herd, said his team is ready to get after the Keydets on Saturday after a great camp.
Marshall is 6-0 in bowl games under Holliday and he said he sees the same leadership skills in this year’s team as in those past winning teams.
“We have a lot of guys back,” he said. “They have worked extremely hard and have great leadership. Every team I have been part of that has been a really good team, those players have taken ownership of the team. I think this team has done that.”
Isaiah Green is back at quarterback after starting the majority of last season as a redshirt freshman.
The 6’2″, 207-pound signal-caller from Georgia finished 7-2 as a starter, throwing for 2,459 passing yards and 15 touchdowns against 10 interceptions last season, resulting in him being selected co-freshman of the year in C-USA.
Green led the 9-4 team in a dominating Gasparilla Bowl victory over South Florida to end the season, a game that Holliday said Green played his best.
“I thought as the season went on he got so much better,” Holliday said. “I thought the bowl game one year ago was as good as he’s been all year. He has picked up where he left off and I like what he has seen to this point. I am anxious to go watch him play against somebody else.”
Marshall returns eight starters on offense, including most of the offensive line anchored by preseason all-conference center Levi Brown and two talented running backs, in Brenden Knox and Tyler King.
Senior wideout Obi Obialo, who was named to the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Watch List, will anchor the outside of the offense. Seniors Channing Hames, a defensive lineman, and defensive back Chris Jackson will be part of the leadership on defense. Both were selected preseason first-team all-conference.
Senior Matt Beardall was selected as preseason first-team all-conference long snapper and named to the Patrick Mannelly Award Watch List, which is presented annually to the best long snapper in FBS.
The Herd has also added experienced players through the NCAA transfer portal system including wide receiver Tevin Richardson from Kentucky and safety Derrek Pitts from West Virginia.
Other transfers expected to see playing time are is former FIU defensive end/linebacker Fermin Silva and former Florida State offensive lineman Josh Ball.
Following the game against FCS-VMI, Marshall will play three teams in a row expected to challenge for their respective conference titles starting at Boise State on Friday, September 6 on ESPN 2.
“Boise is picked to win the Mountain West, we have to go to Boise and play those guys,” Holliday said. We come back and play an Ohio U team that is picked to win the MAC. Then we play a Cincinnati team that a lot of people have picked to win the American Athletic Conference.
“We have a great, challenging schedule. It’s a schedule we are looking forward to playing. I know our kids are, I know I am.”
Marshall opens C-USA play at Middle Tennessee on October 5 followed by its conference home opener October 12 against Old Dominion.