QB Chase Litton, Marshall try to rebound after 3-9 season
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) Marshall quarterback Chase Litton enters his third season as the starter with the chance to help erase some awful memories for a program that had become accustomed to double-digit wins.
Litton led Marshall to a 10-win season in 2015 after taking over in the third game. Last year he showed improvement, but Marshall struggled at running back, the defense was flat and the Thundering Herd finished 3-9.
''They're anxious to right the ship,'' Marshall coach Doc Holliday said.
Last year Litton completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,612 yards with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions. But he was suspended for the 2016 season finale for a violation of team rules.
Holliday said the quarterback not only has matured since then, he's stronger. Litton gained 30 pounds and is now weighs 235.
''I see a different guy out there right now,'' Holliday said. ''He's making the right reads and is a lot further ahead as far as the offense is concerned. He just continues to get better.''
Litton will have a new position coach. Co-offensive coordinator Todd Goebbel switched duties with Bill Legg, who now oversees the tight ends.
The biggest challenge facing Marshall is on defense. The Thundering Herd allowed 35 points and 456 yards per game a year ago. The anchors of this year's defense could be second-leading tackler Kendall Gant at safety and 6-foot-7 defensive end Ryan Bee, who had 4.5 sacks a year ago.
Some other things to know about the Thundering Herd in 2017:
QUESTIONS AT RECEIVER: Litton will have several new targets to throw to after Marshall lost its top three receivers from last season. Tight end Ryan Yurachek is back after tying for the team lead with five TD catches. Among those joining him are Miami transfer Tyre Brady.
RB HELP: Keion Davis is the leading returning rusher after compiling 469 yards a year ago. He'll be joined by junior Anthony Anderson, junior college transfer Trey Rodriguez and redshirt freshman Tyler King.
KEY GAMES: At North Carolina State, Sept. 9; at Cincinnati, Sept. 30; home versus Western Kentucky, Nov. 11.
PREDICTION: Marshall, which won at least 10 games from 2013 to 2015, isn't expected to contend for the East Division crown and will be challenged to become bowl eligible again.
SEASON OPENER: Miami, Ohio, Sept. 2, in Huntington.
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