Five burning questions heading into Kent State

Josh Stowers, Senior Staff Writer
Herd Nation

Will Keion Davis' first start and the arrival of Tyler King jump start the Herd rushing attack?

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You’d certainly like to think that would be the case, but I’m not entirely sure it would’ve mattered who was in the backfield through the first two games. Miami (OH) and North Carolina State arguably featured the top two interior defensive lines Marshall will face all season. With that said, Davis’ playmaking ability has been impossible to deny through the first two weeks of the season. Davis has three plays of 50 or more yards under his belt already. I couldn’t tell you the last time we had a player open up a season with that kind of explosive ability. It’ll be interesting to see how Davis responds to his shot in the starting lineup.

King’s arrival could be something similar to Kevin Grooms’ or Stew Butler’s arrivals in 2012. King, a 5 foot – 11 inch, 190-pound speedster from Meade, Florida is a touchdown waiting to happen every time he touches the ball. After missing the first two weeks for medical reasons, King will get his shot this weekend against Kent State. “I want Tyler King to get in the game Saturday,” Coach Doc Holliday stated during his press conference this week. King could provide the speed dynamic our offense has been missing for a few years. I don’t necessarily think this week will provide much in terms of telling us where our rushing attack is (Kent State ranks 120th in rush defense), but I think it could provide us with a glimpse of our potential. Don’t be surprised to see Marshall eclipse 200-plus yards on the ground though.

Will the offense continue to evolve this week against Kent State?

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Before the Bill Legg haters chime in, I believe there is a reason to be optimistic going forward in the season. Ty’re Brady’s emergence has given Legg a weapon that I’m not sure he’s had during his tenure in Huntington. With that weapon in his arsenal, Legg now has the ability to challenge defenses vertically, which should open up the field. Beyond that, we’ve seen a desire to incorporate the running back position into the passing game and Anthony Anderson has been almost unstoppable in short-yardage situations. Legg’s ability to coach to players’ strengths has always been questioned, but it seems like he’s turning the corner in that aspect. There have also been a number of formations and player groupings that we haven’t seen prior to this season. With all that said and given this week’s opponent, I’m not sure we’ll see much added to the playbook though, because I think Marshall will be able to overwhelm Kent State with what they have installed so far.

Can Ty're Brady maintain his level of play?

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Dial back the clock to 2016, and the first time I saw Ty’re Brady practice in a Marshall uniform I knew he was going to be special. The guy possesses NFL-type talent, but more importantly a “blue collar” work ethic. I’ve yet to attend practice in which Brady wasn’t the first receiver on the field or last to leave. He’s always catching ball from the JUGS machine or working with other receivers on their craft. Watching him practice is just a real pleasure for someone who appreciates hard work and dedication. It’s those habits that have him performing at such a high level two weeks into the 2017 season. Through two weeks, Brady currently ranks fifth in the county with 302 yards receiving (in only six quarters mind you). I don’t know if Brady will be able to continue with those numbers due to teams’ awareness of his ability, but it his effect on the game will not change. Opposing defensive coordinators now have to game plan for a guy that torched one of the better defenses in the ACC. I’m sticking with my prediction from the beginning of the season though. Ty’re Brady will surpass 1,000 yard receiving during the regular season.

Will this be the week Ryan Yurachek breaks out?

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Yurachek catching balls in a Marshall uniform seems almost as normal as Huntington flooding when it rains. The two just go hand-in-hand with one another. Yurachek has now caught a pass in 31 straight games for the Thundering Herd, but some fans would argue that he’s not catching enough passes. Through two games, Yuracheck has only caught four balls for 32 yards and no touchdowns. Given Yurachek’s career numbers (93 catches for 896 yards and 16 touchdowns) you’d think that he’d be a focal point of the offense. That remains the case, but Coach Bill Legg and quarterback Chase Litton can only take what the defense gives them. So far it seems like teams have emphasized taking Yurachek out of equation by bracketing him and bringing more pressure, forcing him to stay in and help with pass protection. As the offense continues to improve, mainly on the ground, I’d imagine we’ll see a few seven or eight catch games for Yurachek in the future. I think that trend will start this weekend with Yurachek securing nine balls for upwards of 70-plus yards.

How will Marshall respond after a tough road loss?

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First of all, the leadership on this team seems to be light years ahead of where it was in 2016. Secondly, it’s always easier to come home to the friendly confines of Joan C. Edwards Stadium following a loss. One thing I think we’ve seen through the first two games is that this team responds to adversity fairly well. Last season, it seemed like when that team fell behind that it was almost certainly going to result in a loss. This year, you can still see the fight in the players. I thought last week was a good indicator of the type of team we have on our hands when some of the younger players came into the game and we didn’t notice much of a drop off. The biggest difference we’ve seen this year compared to recent history is that this Marshall team starts fast. That will be important this week against a Kent State team that likes to suck the life out of teams with the triple-option. I think Marshall wins big this week and sets the tone leading up to trip to Cincinnati a week later.

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