Year three is a crucial time for any college football coach -- especially as expectations appear to remain high and the timetable to turn around a program appears to get shorter and shorter. Last year, several Football Bowl Subdivision coaches were dismissed after only two seasons on the job, an unprecedented short amount of time.
Even though Marshall did win its final three games last season, including a bowl, in 2011, there's plenty of room for the Thundering Herd to improve under current coach Doc Holliday. Critics can point to Marshall's cumulative record under Holiday -- 12-13, still below the .500 mark. They also can cite an offense that ranked among the worst in the entire Football Bowl Subdivision in multiple statistical categories.
Still, there is strong evidence that Marshall is on the right track. The Herd went 7-6 last season, beating seven different Football Bowl Subdivision opponents for the first time in program history since 2003.
Marshall brings back 13 total offensive and defensive starters, but this will be one of the youngest teams in the country in 2012. The current tentative roster for this coming season includes only six seniors.
The biggest thing to watch this spring? The tempo of the offense, which is finally looking like the fast-paced, no-huddle scheme Holliday promised when he was hired at Marshall after the 2009 season.
"Going fast is the hardest thing to do, so that's the thing we'll have to spend most of our time on," offensive coordinator Bill Legg said. "Then we'll do our normal tempo and then our slow-down tempo. Everybody's doing it. We're not reinventing the wheel, but we're trying to do some things that put our guys in the best position to be successful and maximize the stress on the defense."
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