Holliday mum on starting QB
HUNTINGTON — Normally, when a football coach hasn’t decided on a starting quarterback just four days before a season opener, the tendency is the coach might seem a little bit tight.
Such was not the case Tuesday for Marshall University head coach Doc Holliday, however, as the oft-stoic coach joked with media members when the topic came up at his pre-game press conference in Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
“You’re going to figure that out when Jason does,” Holliday said, referencing Marshall sports information director Jason Corriher. “That’s going to be a game day announcement, decision.”
When asked in jest for a clarification on whether it was a game day or game time decision, Holliday didn’t hesitate
“Game. Day,” Holliday said. “We play at 3:30, right?”
Marshall visits Miami (Ohio) for a 3:30 p.m. Saturday contest in Yager Stadium at Oxford, Ohio.
Whether the starting quarterback is graduate transfer Alex Thomson or redshirt freshman Isaiah Green, one of them will make his first start of FBS football.
Thomson has starting experience after his time at Wagner College while Green will play in his first collegiate game, but Holliday said it will be a new experience for both players.
“The great thing is that, whoever that guy is, we’re going to surround him with people who have played a lot of football,” Holliday said. “Whoever that is, I’m sure is going to do a tremendous job.”
From a technical standpoint, Thomson was listed first on the two-deep depth chart with “or” separating his and Green’s names, denoting a decision has not been reached.
There were a few of those instances on the initial depth chart, including in the secondary where sophomores Nazeeh Johnson or Brandon Drayton will start at free safety and the cornerback spot where senior Kereon Merrell or junior Jaylon McClain-Sapp will get the nod.
The cornerback spot will depend upon defensive packages utilized to start the game.
If Marshall goes to a nickel defense, Merrell will likely shift to nickelback and McClain-Sapp will start at cornerback. However, Merrell could get the nod at cornerback based on matchups, which could force Jestin Morrow into the nickelback spot.
While there are plenty of question marks remaining, one definitive thing is Holliday and his staff decided to go with two offensive and two defensive captains in Week 1 against the Red-Hawks. The offensive captains are junior center Levi Brown and senior wide receiver Marcel Williams while the defensive captains are senior defensive tackle Ryan Bee and junior safety Malik Gant.
Marshall’s 45th meeting with Miami (Ohio) will be unique in that it serves as the RedHawks’ 2018 Homecoming contest.
Much like what he did when referencing the quarterback battle, Holliday took a comedic approach when asked about Miami (Ohio)’s home opener also being Homecoming.
“I’ve got more things to worry about than we’re their Homecoming (opponent). ...,” Holliday said. “I don’t know how they picked the Homecoming Queen. She’s only been on campus for about a week. I don’t know how they voted on her. Nobody knew her. I guess they figured it out.”
Soon after the press conference, comedy hour was over as the Thundering Herd returned to the practice field in preparation for the RedHawks, who are among the favorites to win the Mid-American Conference’s East Division.
Marshall senior linebacker Chase Hancock, who also met with media members Tuesday, said he is eager to get the season started in three days against a historical rival and former MAC foe of the Herd.
“Any time we can strap up and play for the ’75′ and for Marshall, in general, it means a lot to us,” Hancock said in a reference to 75 victims of the Nov. 14, 1970, Marshall plane crash.
MARSHALL AT MIAMI (OHIO)
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Yager Stadium, Oxford, Ohio
TV: ESPN+ streaming
RADIO: WDGG 93.7-FM, ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM