Herd season likely to be hot with Curry in the mix
With Vinny Curry in the mix, the Marshall University football team looks to take its defense to another level for the 2011 college football season.
Because he decided to forego the NFL Draft and return for his senior year, Curry will help solidify a defense which ranked fourth in Conference USA in points allowed. The 6-foot-4, 252-pound defensive end led the league and ranked fifth nationally with 12 sacks in 12 games played.
As a result of his efforts, Curry has been named to the Bednarik Award watch list, which recognizes the nation’s top defensive player.
“That was huge,” Marshall second-year head coach Doc Holliday said when asked earlier this summer about Curry’s intention to return to the Thundering Herd lineup. “The thing I was proud of … I thought he did a great job of listening to the right people. He filed his paperwork and got the information back from the NFL Players Association. He found out exactly where he was going to go.”
Although Marshall lost a pair of all-conference selections in linebacker Mario Harvey and lineman Michael Janac to graduation, the rest of the unit on that particular side of the ball is intact.
The entire secondary returns with a few key additions. Back at safety are Omar Brown and Donald Brown, along with Rashad Jackson and Monterius Lovett at the corners.
At this time a year ago, the coaching staff were searching for answers about who would start at the corners.
“Mark Brown played a little football and other than that, we had nobody,” Holliday said. “Right now, the secondary may be the strength of our defense.”
Also returning to the fold as starters are linebackers Devin Arrington and Tyson Gale, along with defensive linemen Delvin Johnson and James Rouse.
On offense, one of the more prominent skill positions is still up for grabs. With the graduation of Brian Anderson (2.358 yards passing with 20 touchdowns), as many as four candidates are vying for the role as starting quarterback.
In the mix are redshirt freshman A.J. Graham and sophomore Eddie Sullivan, who made brief stints last season. Graham complete 10-of-12 passes for 95 yards before suffering an injury which sidelined him for the rest of the year, while Sullivan was 6-of-24 in the passing department for 134 yards and one touchdown.
“I wish there was separation that would solidify the position, but there is not,” Holliday said. “By the time we head north in September (for the season-opener), we have to get that solidified.”
Running back Tron Martinez (262 yards rushing) should receive a bulk of the carries, while Aaron Dobson and Antavious Wilson will be two of the primary receivers. Three down linemen ä Corey Tenney, Ryan Tillman and C.J. Wood ä are also scheduled to be back in the lineup.
Special teams is led by Parkersburg High School product Tyler Warner at placekicker. Last year as a junior, Warner converted 31-of-32 extra points and made five field goals.
Marshall’s upcoming schedule rivals what Holliday experienced in his debut with the program. Seven opponents appeared in a bowl game. The Thundering Herd open Sept. 4 in Morgantown against West Virginia University.
“Our schedule is difficult, but we need to embrace it,” Holliday said. “Our coaching staff and our players have to embrace it, and our fans have to embrace it and show up every Saturday and support this football team because it is challenging. But we will go play it and enjoy doing it.”
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