Holliday: QB could be game-time decision

August 21, 2018

HUNTINGTON - Marshall University fans have spent the better part of the football preseason wondering who the Thundering Herd’s starting quarterback will be for the first game Sept. 1 at Miami (Ohio).

For now, it appears there is a possibility Marshall head coach Doc Holliday might not make a decision known until Marshall runs on the field to take on the RedHawks at Yager Stadium.

Following Saturday’s scrimmage, Holliday alluded to the quarterback battle and its potential to run its course in the next two weeks of game preparation.

“We may not do it until game day,” Holliday said. “We’ll see.”

That statement is in contrast to what Holliday said he was hoping to see happen during preseason camp.

Holliday said in a preseason press conference that he wanted one of the quarterbacks to separate himself to the point that he could name a starter for the first game.

However, graduate transfer Alex Thomson suffered stiffness in his shoulder - a complication stemming from him throwing for the first time since being injured last season in the second game of the season while at Wagner College. Thomson rested the shoulder for a week before resuming light throwing and built up to last week where he threw deep outs in practice Wednesday and Thursday before taking part in team periods Friday and in Saturday’s scrimmage.

Thomson finished the scrimmage 4-of-14 for 44 yards and an interception while working with the No. 2 and No. 3 units.

Those numbers were a bit deceiving for a pair of reasons: (1) the depth of the Herd’s second-team defense exceeds that of its second-team offense at this point, making it a tough matchup; and (2) three of the incompletions were throwaways when Thomson faced a rush and made a proper read to get rid of the football and play the next down.

He did have one ill-advised throw that ended in an interception when he rolled left to avoid pressure and tried to loft a ball toward the sideline that ended up in the waiting arms of freshman Steven Gilmore.

Holliday said Thomson’s ability to be back out on the field making all the necessary throws outweighed his statistics in his second full-speed practice back against the defense.

“I’m just happy to see Alex go out there and be able to throw three days in a row now, so that was good,” Holliday said.

As he has done all preseason, Isaiah Green continued to work with the No. 1 group. Green continued his strong play, finishing 15-of-21 for 198 yards and a touchdown.

Coming into fall camp, it was expected that Thomson -- a graduate transfer with starting experience -- would end up earning the starting nod, but Green -- a redshirt freshman -- has shown his ability to consistently engineer the offense, making the starting quarterback battle a race to the finish of the preseason.

“We like where we are right now with both guys,” Holliday said.

It appears the starting job has whittled itself down to Thomson and Green at this point.

Garet Morrell took snaps with the Nos. 2 and 3 offenses during Saturday’s scrimmage, as well, finishing 6-of-9 for 78 yards and an interception. Morrell is the lone player in the mix who has seen game action at quarterback in a Marshall uniform, having started a pair of games as a true freshman in 2016 in place of Chase Litton.

The Herd also has quarterback Jackson White, who has seen the field as the team’s holder on extra points and field goal attempts and true freshman Luke Zban, a walk-on from Huntington.

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