Marshall running back Rasheen Ali had a season to remember in 2021, leading the Herd to New Orleans Bowl. Ali would be one of the bright spots for Marshall, rushing for 160 yards and scoring three touchdowns. The Marshall back would finish the 2021 campaign rushing for 1,401 yards and 23 touchdowns, tied him for the lead in FBS. Ali would go on to be named Marshalls MVP and garner first team All-Conference USA honors. The freshman would also be named to the Shawn Alexander Freshman of the Year Award list, while getting national attention.
Ali was tremendous last season and gives Marshall fans great hope heading into the Sun Belt Conference in 2022. The conference switch will bring a challenge to Ali and the Thundering Herd, but Marshall looks to push for the division title. Marshall will have the luxury of hosting their top contenders in the East Division in: App State, Coastal Carolina, and Georgia State. The Herd will have all eyes on them their first year in the conference, and rightfully so with Ali returning.
2022 Offensive Changes
Marshall will have a newcomer calling signals for the offense, with the departure of Grant Wells to Va Tech. But with Ali returning, whoever is running the offense will have a great weapon to run the offense through. Marshall will also break in a new offensive coordinator this season, in Clint Trickett. Fortunately for Trickett, the luxury of having an accomplished running back in Rasheen Ali will help in the transition.
While Ali is force on the ground, he also presents problems in the passing game. Ali hauled in 45 catches for 334 yards, and a touchdown last season. Ali is not just a one-dimensional back, and with Trickett calling plays, Ali may have an opportunity to have more chances this season. Trickett comes from a coaching tree of pass heavy offenses, and he will utilize that for the Herd this season. But that does not mean that Trickett will go away from handing the ball off to Ali, 20-25 times a game and letting the back take a heavy workload. Ali carried the ball 250 times a season ago as a freshman, which proves that he can carry a large workload.
While Ali had the Freshman status for the 2021 season, he was a non-qualifier for the 2019 season. What this means is that Ali is draft eligible but chose to come back for the 2022 season. Ali has the ability to capitalize on many of his strengths in the 2022 season. His ability to burst through gaps and get to the second and third levels was on display in 2021. In his first career game against Navy, Ali scored four times on the ground while helping the Herd win 49-7 against the Midshipmen.
Sun Belt Favorites
With Marshall moving to a new conference in 2022, having Ali back will smooth the transition. Marshall looks to be one of the favorites as a newcomer to the Sun Belt Conference, and if Ali can stay healthy, that will not change. Marshall has a history of great running backs, and Ali is the next name added to that list. Marshall will open its season in Huntington, against Norfolk State on September 3rd.
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