Marshall football will be playing in a new conference in 2022, and with it will come a new set of challenges. Huff had tremendous challenges face him and his team in 2021, challenges that Marshall can learn from heading into the Sun Belt. Marshall finished their final season in Conference USA with a 7-6 record, and an appearance in the New Orleans Bowl. Interestingly enough, Marshall would face Louisiana in the bowl game, a team that they will see yearly in the Sun Belt. Louisiana would go on to defeat the Herd in the game, 36-21. One of the bright spots for the Herd was freshman running back, Ra’Sheen Ali rushing for 160 yards and three scores.
Coach Huff Hired by Marshall
When Marshall hired Charles Huff, they knew they were getting an excellent recruiter and someone that has experienced success. Huff has a long background in coaching, including time with arguably one of the best college football coaches, Nick Saban. Coach Huff only spent two seasons with Saban, but was named the Associate Head Coach for the Tide. Huff also had previous stops as an assistant at Mississippi State, Penn State, and Maryland in the Power Five ranks. So Marshall knew they were getting a decorated veteran coach, would could lead the program going forward.
New Challenges in Sun Belt Conference
With Marshall heading in to Sun Belt Conference, some new challenges will await them. Marshall will have some familiarity with teams in their new conference, but other teams will be a new challenge. App State, Southern Miss, and Old Dominion are all program Marshall has experience playing. Louisiana, even though Marshall just saw them in the New Orleans Bowl will be a new team on the schedule annually. The Sun Belt will give Marshall more of an opportunity to have regional rivalries set up.
What Does Coach Huff Bring to Marshall
As stated early, Coach Huff is an elite recruiter with the ability to develop talent at a high level. Coach Huff has tremendous experience with developing running backs who find success on the ground. In 2019, Huff was the running game coordinator for the Tide and helped Najee Harris have two great seasons. The ground attack at Mississippi State that Coach Huff over-watched in 2018 was good for second in the SEC Conference. The experience with great rushing attacks bodes well for the second year head coach, with the talented running back Ali commanding the backfield in Huntington. The 2022 recruiting class that Marshall has compiled with the new staffs first full season recruiting has been great as well.
Year Two under Coach Huff
The second year under the Huff regime looks like a bright one for the Herd as they head into new waters. Ali, the talented running back will make his return, and Marshall brings back a lot of weapons. Marshall will also travel to South Bend, Indiana to take on the Irish of Notre Dame in year two. Marshall will be the favorites to win the East Division of the Sun Belt, and more than likely the conference. The Herd will host all three of the teams that should push them for the East Division crown in Huntington. App State, Coastal Carolina, and Georgia State will all be at the Joan, and all three should be the biggest threats for Marshall. Corey Gammage and Talik Keaton will be some very nice weapons for new Offensive Coordinator, Clint Trickett. Defensively, Coach Huff and his staff made some key additions in the portal.
Marshall will usher in three power five transfers in Kentucky’s Isiah Gibson, Miami’s Quentin Williams, and Purdue’s Anthony Watts. All three of which will provide a defense that already bolsters key returns of Koby Cumberland, Owen Porter, and Elijah Alston. The defensive line was an area that Coach Huff wanted to improve due to this group struggling to close out games. The one area of concern could be the secondary for the Herd in 2022. Steven Gilmore gives the Herd a lockdown corner option for Marshall, that will look to replace three safeties on the back end.
We will dive deeper into predictions in another article, but the Herd should bolster a roster to contend in 2022. Marshall should be the favorites in the East Division, and a top team to watch in the Sun Belt. 11 wins is not out of the question for this group, in year two of the Huff Era. 11 wins would put the Herd in contention for the Group of 5 New Year’s Six qualifier. No matter what, Marshall fans have a great leader at the helm in Charles Huff, and will have a lot to cheer about in 2022.
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