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HD Media sports columnist Chuck Landon

Remember how the 2019 football season ended?

Conference USA’s head coaches were so impressed with Marshall University’s array of talent, they voted eight MU players to the all-conference first team.

No other team had as many first-team selections.

Besides that, Marshall running back Brenden Knox was voted C-USA’s Most Valuable Player and place-kicker Justin Rohrwasser won Special Teams Player of the Year honors.

It was quite a haul for a Thundering Herd team that finished with just an 8-5 record and didn’t even advance to C-USA’s East Division championship game.

The differential between postseason accolades and win-loss record didn’t make sense then and still defies logic now.

Now, let’s fast-forward to the 2020 preseason.

Guess what?

Marshall is starting this season exactly as it ended last season — with individual accolades.

This time C-USA’s head coaches (a coach can’t vote for his own player) voted five Marshall players to the All-Conference USA Preseason team. That tied the Herd with North Texas for the most first-team selections.

The recipients include Knox, who was voted Preseason MVP, offensive guard Cain Madden, linebacker Tavante Beckett, free safety Nazeeh Johnson and punt returner Talik Keaton.

Besides that, Knox is on the Maxwell Award, Wuerffel Trophy and Doak Walker Award watch lists. Madden is on the Outland Trophy watch list, and Beckett is on the Bronko Nagurski Award watch list.

Again, the Conference USA coaches appear to believe the Thundering Herd has the most talent in the East Division, if not the entire league.

For some odd reason, Conference USA didn’t have a preseason poll for the 2020 season. But several media outlets have made predictions about the season. Some favor Western Kentucky. Others like Charlotte and Middle Tennessee. One even took a flier on FIU.

But not once was Marshall listed among the candidates for divisional or conference championships.

So, is this another here-we-go-again moment?

Let’s hope not.

What is veteran head coach Doc Holliday’s take on that?

“We just tried to get some guys recognition,” he said. “They deserve it. That’s the one thing that is voted on by the coaches, so I didn’t have anything to do with that. The rest of the coaches in the league thought they were good players and made those votes.

“It doesn’t really matter where you are now. It matters more at the end of the season. Those guys have all got to step up and have great years, which they are all tremendous young people as well as players. So I know they are looking forward to the season.”

Who isn’t?

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the mere idea of Marshall playing a college football game against Eastern Kentucky at 1 p.m. Saturday in Joan C. Edwards Stadium is an extremely refreshing thought.

So go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief.

There’s no question that everybody has earned that, yet a question does indeed linger in the air about how this season is going to play out.

Will the 2020 team be better than the 2019 squad? Will this edition of the Herd post the “must wins” the 2019 team squandered? Namely, can Marshall defeat Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee, Charlotte and FIU in 2020?

That’s what needs to happen if Marshall is going to advance to C-USA postseason play.

At least Marshall will get off to a good start.

The Herd will cruise past EKU 38-13.