The Parthenon

Marshall Football welcomes new faces and a new attitude in 2017 season

Kyle Curley, Assistant Sports Editor

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With college football right around the corner, the Marshall football team is getting ready to start their 2017-18 campaign Saturday at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium against Miami Ohio.

The all-time series between the Herd and the Red Hawks weighs heavily in favor of Miami, 30-12, although Marshall has managed to win the last three meetings between the two schools.

The players and coaches worked hard this offseason and have moved players around to strengthen the front seven.

Most notably, red shirt junior defensive lineman Ryan Bee has been moved to nose guard. Bee’s confidence has continued to grow with the recent position change.

“The last three or four games last year I was kind of playing both positions so I had a little bit of experience,” Bee said. “I got a little bit in the spring but I had that injury and I missed most of spring, so it’ kind of a question mark going into camp. I’ve had a really good camp and I’ve been able to work the position and learn all the new techniques and stuff so it’s going pretty good.”

Bee totaled 54 tackles last season, 6.5 tackles for loss of yardage and 4.5 sacks.

Junior starting quarterback Chase Litton is now entering his third season at the helm for the Herd. Litton’s freshman year was draped with success after the team finished 10-3 (6-2) and secured another bowl victory for the Herd when they defeated the University of Connecticut.

Head coach John ‘Doc’ Holliday said he loves to see the junior’s progression entering his third season.

“He has worked extremely hard to become a better player,” Holliday said. “He has put on weight and become more physical and has a better understanding of the game. What he did to improve over the summer, including what he did at the Manning Passing Academy, are some of the things you’ll see out there on Saturday. He has been great in practice and this point and that has to carry over to the games.”

Litton finished last season with a completion percentage of 62.3 (231-371), 27 touchdowns, nine interceptions and 2,612 total passing yards.

Marshall lost five players from their receiving core when the previous season concluded. The most notable addition to the receiver core is redshirt junior Tyre Brady who has transferred to Marshall after two seasons with the Miami Hurricanes.

The Herd has new faces in the backfield as well. Litton said he is looking forward to sharing the field with his new teammates.

“It’s different all the way around,” Litton said. “You look at the receivers and we have five new guys; we lost five from last year. You look at it and a lot of people probably won’t know the roster. When Trey (Rodriquez) comes in it’s going to bring a whole new and different aspect to our team, with him and Keion (Davis) doing like a one-two punch.”

Though this is not your typical rivalry game, there is history between the two teams. The teams first met in a game in 1905, which ended in defeat for Marshall 35-0. In 1971 Marshall suffered one of its most lop-sided defeats to Miami, and it has not been forgotten amongst the community.

“Yeah, it’s a bigger game,” Bee said. “Every game is a big game, but this game has got a lot of history to it and we need to go out there and play for the community, represent Marshall and I guess get back at Miami for the past years.”

Defensive back Chris Jackson is no longer a greenhorn. He is returning for his sophomore year and said he believes that having a tough opponent like Miami to start off the season is a good thing.

“It’s fun, I mean last year we had a bye week in the beginning,” Jackson said. “But this week, week one, we are right into action. Miami (Ohio) is a great team. It’s real fun, it’s real competitive and this just gets my juices going. It makes me feel good that we are playing in the first week against a great team.”

Safety and fellow defensive secondary player C.J. Reavis said the team is anxious to start the season.

“One of the biggest differences is not having a long camp like we did last year,” Reavis said. “We get to get to it faster. We are just anxious. We are real anxious to get the season started off. Last (season) was not good enough for anybody’s standards. I feel like we are licking our chops and we are ready to get started this year.”

Marshall finished a lackluster 3-9 in the previous season and special teams was a major issue for Doc Holiday and his team. Red shirt senior Kaare Vedvik has been shown a bode of confidence by his head coach. Holliday has named Vedvik the starting punter and kicker for the Herd.

“Vedvik is probably one of the most athletic kickers that I’ve ever been around in all of my years of coaching,” Holliday said. “He’s an unbelievable kid who goes to work every day and takes great pride in what he does. He’s a talented guy who is fun to watch and be around.”

With a renewed roster and a rekindled hope of success surrounding the Marshall football program, the time for talking about improvements is over. It’s now time to reap the benefits of preparation, practice and perseverance.

The Thundering Herd will look to walk off the turf field at the Joan on Saturday 1-0 and make it four straight wins over the Miami Red Hawks. Kick-off is set for 6:30 p.m.

Kyle Curley can be contacted at [email protected]

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