Dr. Saturday - NCAAF

An absurdly premature assessment of the 2010 Thundering Herd.

Why they might look familiar: They are. Marshall. The Herd have literally made their name off the generic "We Are _____" chant that existed in peaceful obscurity for decades and has somehow been co-opted by every amateur sports team in the Western hemisphere, to incredibly annoying effect. (Notably not copycatting: Penn State. And don't you dare suggest otherwise or these eleven people will have words.)

Marshall is a program with a proud recent history of lawlessness, and the 2010 squad is continuing that tradition in fine fashion. You may have seen them on the news recently on account of sophomores DeQuan Bembry and T.J. Drakeford, both topping the depth chart at corner, suspended indefinitely after allegedly assaulting and battering police while the cops attempted to break up a barfight.

You will be hearing a lot from us about Marshall this fall, and it's not because we like barfights. Longtime readers will recall our unswerving allegiance to 2008 Dr. Saturday show pony Willy Korn, ex-Clemson quarterback and fluffy-headed blog hero, who will be joining the Thundering Herd in May to spend his final year of eligibility as (presumptively) the starting QB in Huntington. Expect to hear much, much more from us about this joyous development.

Previously on: Somehow, the best of Snyder's five seasons at his alma mater cost him his job. Snyder "resigned" in November at the end of a five-year stretch without a winning season, at least in part due to a reportedly fractious relationship with new athletic director Mike Hamrick. Three of those seasons were conducted under scholarship reductions thanks to past NCAA violations under wildly successful predecessor Bob Pruett, and the Herd were heading to a bowl game following Snyder's departure, but no matter now -- he's gone, and his replacement maybe ought to go in the "Stock Characters" section by virtue of being named Doc Holliday. Really.

The ouchiest '09 loss came at Virginia Tech in September, a 52-10 bloodbath in which Marshall was outgained 605-252 and allowed 444 yards rushing, mostly to Hokie freshmen David Wilson and Ryan Williams. Overall, though, the defense was good enough by C-USA's verrrry relaxed standards to get the team to .500 overall in conference play (thankfully, reigning league pinball machine Houston wasn't on the schedule) and punch a ticket to a bowl game for the first time since 2004. After Snyder was shown the door, Marshall managed to round out a winning season (7-6) with a bowl win, beating a sulky Ohio squad coming off a loss in the MAC title game in the Little Caesars Bowl, 21-17, even if ESPN's Pam Ward wasn't exactly feeling the love:

Encounters in the wild: A couple big chances to see, and they arrive right away: Marshall opens the year at Ohio State, then hosts newly revived rival West Virginia at home in primetime on Sept. 10, a Friday night game already slotted for ESPN treatment.

Stock characters: (Did we mention they have Willy Korn?) In terms of known quantities, while a new offense is being installed under Bill Legg, the Herd is already deep at receiver and running back. Keep your eyes on the triple rushing threat of Martin Ward, Terrell Edwards-Maye and Andre Booker, and a hometown former walk-on who's now the starting center, Chris Bowers.

Prognosis: With the advent of Willy Korn, is there a doubt? In the interest of full disclosure, we are of West Virginian parentage, making it difficult to forecast good things for Marshall but ... Willy Korn's presence overrides all previous allegiances. Thunder on, you Herd. Ride that baby chicken-headed gunslinger to C-USA glory, right after you're through getting pantsed by the Buckeyes and Mountaineers.

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Previous Absurdly Premature Assessments (alphabetically by team): Boston College ... Central Michigan ... Clemson ... Colorado State ... Connecticut ... Florida Atlantic ... Hawaii ... Iowa ... Kansas State ... Kentucky ... LSU ... MemphisMissouriOregon State ... PittsburghStanford.

Holly welcomes your adulation and veiled threats at nastinchka-at-yahoo, etc.

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