HUNTINGTON — Spring games are always about pros and cons.
That’s because a team is playing itself.
So, a sack is a good play by the defense, but it’s a bad play for the offense. And vice-versa. A touchdown pass is a great play for the offense, but it’s a very bad play for the defense.
That was clearly the case in Marshall University’s spring football game as the Green defeated the Black 34-10 Saturday in Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
Just don’t be misled by the final score. Why? Because the halftime score was only 10-3.
That is vintage spring football, so let’s address the pros and cons.
n Con: The Thundering Herd’s offense still can’t run the ball. That was a problem during the 2020 season — particularly late in the campaign — and it’s still a problem.
The Green managed only 75 yards on 24 carries for 3.1 yards per attempt. The Black was even less productive with 49 yards on 20 carries (2.5 yards per attempt).
Part of the problem was a piecemeal offensive line. Veteran Will Ulmer started at left tackle, but only played the first half. Usual center Alex Salguero shifted to left guard to replace the injured Alex Mollette. That created a domino effect. Usual right guard Cain Madden moved to center for the first half with James McGee taking his place. Kendrick Sartor was the right tackle in place of Tarik Adams.
Mollette and Dalton Tucker being sidelined also created problems.
This is a significant weakness and it has to be fixed. Marshall needs to be able to run the ball next season.
n Pro: Marshall’s first-team defense looked very good. Yes, quarterback Grant Wells completed 14 of 29 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns, but a lot of that yardage came late.
In the first half, the Herd’s defense wreaked havoc, sacking Wells five times for minus 29 yards. Defensive tackle Immanuel Bush led the way with 2.5 sacks. Linebacker Abraham Beauplan had one sack, followed by defensive tackle Jamare Edwards with one sack and defensive end Elijah Alston with half a sack.
Here’s a key statistic to consider: At halftime, the first-team defense had limited Wells to only 3 of 13 passing for only 60 yards with one TD. He had more sacks than completions.
Mull that over.
“The D-line did a really good job today,” said first-year head coach Charles Huff. “Our D-line is very active. As the game went on the offense settled down a little bit.”
n Con: Marshall has to find a punter.
Senior Robert LeFevre hit a 48-yarder but averaged only 29.3 yards on three punts. His first punt traveled only 12 yards.
Then there’s scholarship freshman John McConnell. His first punt was for 20 yards, followed by a 33-yard kick. Then he boomed consecutive punts of 46 and 45 yards. Yet, just when fans were feeling better about him, McConnell finished up with punts of 32 and 30 yards.
“Obviously, it was not what we wanted,” said Huff.
This problem must be solved.
n Pro: Marshall found another option at wide receiver.
His name is Shadeed Ahmed. The 6-foot, 170-pound sophomore from Navarro Junior College had a breakout spring game with five catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
Prior to the spring game most fans never had heard of Ahmed. But they know now.
So, there it is.
The good and the bad.
Huff and his staff definitely have their work cut out for them.