Marshall has a long history of putting up huge offensive numbers and running up crazy scores on weeknights and in bowl games. This year has been no different as the Thundering Herd has started the season slinging the football all over the field on their way to putting up 50 points per game. Marshall likes to spread the field and get the ball out of the quarterback's hands quickly, but this year they have utilized their depth at wide receiver well and have been pushing the ball down the field more often. They have a big size advantage over Louisville out wide so it will be interesting to see if they try throw it up to their big receivers often.
Chase Litton is the Marshall quarterback who has been tasked with leading this talented skill group. Litton is a Florida kid that chose Marshall over USF and he's been very good for the Herd after taking over as the starter in game three last year as a true freshman. Litton threw for 23 touchdowns last year against 8 interceptions and he started out this year very well with an impressive game against Morgan State where he threw 6 touchdowns in 8 completions at one point. Litton didn't fare as well against Akron last week, throwing three picks, but he was accurate for most of the game and had a few fluke plays that led to turnovers. Litton has plenty of arm strength and puts great touch on his deep balls. What really stands out is his trust for his receivers. He thinks that his guys will go up and make a play for him and for the most part they do just that. Litton is rail thin and it's very obvious that he's not the type of guy that can handle a lot of hits. Louisville's zone blitzes have worked very well so far this year so I wouldn't be surprised to see Litton take a big hit on a coverage sack after a linebacker or linemen jumps into a passing lane.
The Marshall running game is fairly non-existent, but that is pretty much the norm. The Herd like to split carries between Hyleck Foster and Keion Davis pretty evenly but neither running back has done much to impress this season. Davis is the bigger of the backs, but both have pretty good speed to get through an open hole and get a chunk run or two. I don't really expect Marshall to run the ball much and I don't think their running backs will be a big factor in the game.
The Herd really has a nice group of receivers that are all big and athletic and this group runs deep. Litton's favorite target is Michael Clark who is 6-7 and hadn't played football in five years before this season. Clark was a basketball player at Fordham and wasn't getting much playing time so he decided to transfer and give football another shot. Clark looks very natural as a receiver and he is a perfectly serviceable route-runner which surprised me. He is their obvious red zone choice and he has very good hands. Tight End, Ryan Yurachek is one of the better tight ends that Louisville will face this season. He can line up out wide and run most of the routes the receivers can but he's also a solid blocker and can be a security blanket for Litton. Josh Knight and Deon-Tay McManus are the other two receivers Louisville will see the most on Saturday with Justin Hunt being the veteran of the group who happens to be off to a slow start. Each of the receivers mentioned above are averaging over 17 yards per catch and it is very obvious that this Marshall offense wants to be vertical and use their size to create big plays.
The offensive line for Marshall has played pretty well over their first two games. Akron's blitzes gave them some issues at times but for the most part, they have given Litton enough time and they've cleared some good lanes for the running backs. I think that Todd Grantham will bring just as many, if not more, blitzes as usual as Litton is more or less a statue in the pocket so Marshall will likely try to get the ball out very quickly. This should make the line less of a factor, but Louisville has faced similar offenses and have had no problem getting pressure.
KEY PLAYERS: QB Chase Litton, WR Michael Clark, WR Josh Knight, TE Ryan Yurachek, WR Justin Hunt