HUNTINGTON – There’s not as much time these days for new Marshall Football Coach Charles Huff to stop at Jim’s Spaghetti House for a piece of strawberry pie and chat with fans about his first season leading the Thundering Herd.
The season has arrived.
“I haven’t lost a game yet, so everyone loves Coach Huff,” laughed Huff while speaking to Hoppy Kercheval on Metronews Talkline.
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) August 31, 2021
The last time there was this much anticipation among Thundering Herd fans for football season to arrive was the days leading up to the 2014 season. That year, college football pundits were discussing Marshall as a possible Cinderella team that could contend for the coveted Group of Five slot in a New Years’ Day Bowl.
Now, Herd fans are excited to see the results of an overhauled coaching staff getting the opportunity to work with a number of talented returning players. That includes second-year quarterback Grant Wells. He earned the starting job last year and turned heads around the conference throwing for 2,091 yards and 18 touchdowns. However, Wells struggled in Marshall’s three losses to end the year.
“I think the biggest thing is just his overall growth and maturity. The quarterback position is the most scrutinized position in all of sports. Sometimes people forget there is a maturity gap you’ve got to cross. Grant had a phenomenal start and I won’t say he fell off, he played like a freshman,” analyzed Huff.
“What we’ve concentrated on, moving through the spring and the summer and into fall camp, is getting the people around Grant to play more consistent. When that happens you don’t have the highs and lows. In order for Grant to be successful this season, everybody around Grant has to be better.”
Huff’s first challenge as head coach comes this Saturday as Marshall makes the trip to Annapolis, MD to face the Naval Academy and its unique triple-option offense. A system that was once the most popular offensive scheme in college football, is now a relic that gives defenses coordinators nightmares. Even though it is the first game of the season, Marshall hasn’t had as much extra time as one might think to prepare.
“Everybody says you have them in the first game and you can start preparing early, well, we’re kind of on the other side because we have our own systems to put in,” said Huff. “You’re really trying to make sure you can run your offense and defense while trying to prepare for Navy.”
Huff admits he’d like to have more time to install his systems and reach more players further down the depth chart but insists his team will be ready to take the field on Saturday.
“This is an unbelievable opportunity for our team and our program. Obviously, Navy is going to create a lot of challenges for us. It’s not necessarily that we’re out-manned or out-matched, it’s one of those things where its a type of offense and system that kids don’t see any more.”
No matter the outcome this week, there will be more work to do with non-conference games with ahead with old rivals East Carolina and Appalachian State before starting the conference schedule versus Middle Tennessee State.
“One game does not make or break our season. It will kind of let us know where we are, where we need to go and what improvements we need to make throughout the season.”
Kickoff is set for 3:30 Saturday and the game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.