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The last time Marshall stepped up to a stronger conf it was the move from IAA to the MAC. they stepped right in and dominated winning the MAC in five of the first 6 years. In 2004 Marshall appeared to have the MAC wrapped up but suffered some close losses and stunningly fell to 6-6 after their bowl loss to Cincinnati. Last year Snyder stepped into the HC role for the first time in his career. He admitted that in his first year as a Div IA DC (Ohio St '04), that it was a huge learning experience. He also inherited a team that had just 5 returning starters and had to replace their entire defensive front 7. Marshall also removed their AstroTurf and the huge crown (elevation at midfield), which was a big part of their home edge, as it was reduced from 20 to 6 inches. I didn't make a lot of fans in Huntington when I called for Marshall to finish LAST in the CUSA East even below UCF which was 0-11 the previous year. They had a record of 102-7 at home in the history of Joan C. Edwards Stadium, but were just 3-3 last year and their 6 senior starters were the 5th lowest in the NCAA. The Herd trailed in all 11 games including vs IAA William & Mary (24-23 3Q). They had three very fortunate wins and managed a 4-7 record which actually shows that Snyder did a good job. They trailed SMU 10-0 in the 4Q and rallied to win in OT, were outgained by UAB 432-251 but thanks to two blocked punts and a missed FG and 2 pt conv, won by one. Trailing Tulane26-14 in the4Q. MU rallied for a one point win. Itwas their first losing season since 1983. MU was -6 in turnovers and both their offensive and defensive ypp qualifies for a positive system of mine (pg 299). Snyder now has the advantage of working with the team in the spring and they did play a lot of youngsters last year. With just 2 starters back on offense, Marshall averaged a CUSA low of 18.5 ppg. This year they have 9 starters back including their top 4 rushers, top 4 receivers, two veteran QB's and a top-notch 0-line. The last time they had 9 starters back on offense was 2002 when they ayg 35.2 ppg. The defense is much tougher up front and actually did a better job than expected last year allowing just 340 ypg and 25.9 ppg. As long as the young secondary plays well, I rate their defense #2 in CUSA. Marshall is in much better shape to contend in CUSA in 2006 and despite a tough non-conf schedule (W Virginia, Kansas St, Tenn) has a shot at bowl eligibility.
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