Marshall Thundering Herd Offensive Scouting Report
Marshall Thundering Herd Offense - Scheme: Multiple
RB Rasheen Ali
QB Cam Fancher
Marshall's offense runs a multiple scheme. This means they run a hybrid between spread and pro-style offense. Most of the formations will have 1 tight end and 3 wide receivers. The majority of their plays are run from the shutgun, but they will go under center every once in a while. They use a lot of pre-snap motion to get a read on what the defense is doing. They run many quick wide receiver screens and run-pass options. Quarterback, Cam Fancher, will not blow you away with his arm strength; he often underthrows his deep balls. However, he does throw with good anticipation and accuracy on short to medium range targets to make up for it. Fancher is also quite fast. Marshall utilizes this by rolling him out of the pocket, designing QB runs, and read option plays. Most of Marshalls best runs against ECU came from Fancher scrambling or keeping on an option.
The real workhorse and playmaker of this offense is running back, Rasheen Ali. Ali rushed 18 times for 85 yards and 3 touchdowns against ECU. East Carolina's run defense is no joke either. They gave up only 122 rush yards to Michigan the week prior. Ali is very similar to the running back Virginia Tech faced last week in Kyle Monangai of Rutgers. At 6'0" 209 lbs, Ali runs with power and breaks the first tackle more often than not. Ali is also a threat as a pass catcher. Marshall will sometimes line Ali up out as a wide receiver.
Marhsall's Offensive Performance So Far
Marshall is off to a 2-0 start with victories over Albany, 24-17, and East Carolina, 31-13. They are coming off a bye this week for their second home game against Virginia Tech. Their offense has looked pretty vanilla through the first to games. They squeaked by an FCS team in week 1. Additionally, the 31-13 victory over ECU is misleading as to how that game actually went. Through 3 quarters, Marshall could not run the ball. Ali was getting tackled in the backfield on almost every attempt. Their best runs came from Fancher. Their wide receivers had multiple drops. Overall, it was a massive struggle for the Herd on offense. In the 4th quarter, Marshall trailed ECU 13-10. Everything changed when Marshall ran a double pass trick play for a 75 yard touchdown. This play can be seen in the clip below.
From that point on, Marshall did whatever they wanted to on offense. They ran the ball at will and buried the Pirates. It seemed as though ECU's will was broken at that point and they simply gave up. On Marshall's next possession, Rasheen Ali broke through for a 56 yard touchdown run that made the score 24-13. That play can also be seen in the clip below.
After that, ECU threw an interception that set Marshall's offense up at the Pirates' 25 yard line. Ali capped that drive off with his 3rd touchdown run and iced the victory for the Thundering Herd, 31-13. This game was much closer than that score shows. However, the main takeaway here is that Marshall, even if their run game is struggling, will stick to it to stay balanced. This game will certainly re-assure them that sticking to their game plan and feeding the workhorse running back will pay off. Virginia Tech needs to be prepared to defend the run all game long, even if they stop them early in the game. It is essential that the defensive ends keep Fancher in the pocket. He can really hurt a defense when he gets outside on the edge. He is accurate throwing on the run and can scramble for first downs. The Marshall offensive line is not as good as Rutgers'. So, the Hokies have a real opportunity to have a great game on defense. Stop Ali and contain Fancher, and Virginia Tech will have a great chance at victory.
All stats via ESPN.com and photograph via ECU Athletics.