As Marshall football gears up for their week one meeting with Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) program Morgan State, it’s time to hit the film room and breakdown the tape on the Herd’s first opponent of the new season.
Last time out
Morgan State is coming off a pretty embarrassing loss at the hands of fellow FCS school Holy Cross, 51-24. Not a whole lot worked for the Bears. Penalties stifled their offense, costing them 115 yards. Their lone interception didn’t help, either. They were able to run more plays than their opponents, but allowing 6.5 yards per rush and 4 rushing touchdowns ultimately doomed them.
What we know
Offensively, the Bears run a multiple spread. They really like to get their outside receivers out in open space and let them do the rest. Expect a faster tempo when Morgan State has the ball, as they want to dictate the tempo of the game and stretch their opponent’s defense thin, opening up the big play down field. On the defensive side of the ball, second-year defensive coordinator Mike Fanoga runs a 3-4 scheme. With 3 down linemen engaging the blockers, it allows the inside linebackers to have a free run, while the outside linebackers serve as edge rushers to put pressure on the quarterback. This scheme helped the Bears take down the QB 23 times last season, adding 63 tackles for loss.
The Bears do have talent on the offensive side of the ball. Graduate transfer quarterback Chris Andrews has a cannon of an arm and great vision. Their backfield also boasts a former 1,000-yard rusher, Herb Walker, Jr. They return with 9 offensive starters from last season, including two offensive linemen, senior Dominique Woods and sophomore Cooper Clarkin. Add on the speed they have on the outside and Morgan State has all the pieces to have a very solid offensive showing night in and night out.
Despite returning starters on the offensive line, against Holy Cross the line had more holes than Swiss cheese, allowing 4 total sacks and 11 tackles for loss. This did no favors for the running game, as no running back had more than 75 yards rushing on the day against the Crusaders. Defensively, the Bears couldn’t stop a nose bleed, allowing 498 yards of total offense and conceding 31 total first downs on 78 total plays. Line play seems to be their biggest weakness, much as it was last season.
The Herd will be hyped to take the field to show off their firepower for the first time this season, and the fact that Marshall will be playing in front of their home fans doesn’t help the Bears chances, either. If Marshall sophomore quarterback Chase Litton picks up where he left off last season and Marshall’s rebuilt defense comes to play, Morgan State doesn’t stand a chance, especially with their O-line looking as porous as it did last weekend. Expect the Thundering Herd to take this game handedly, winning by no less than three touchdowns.