Hanshew: Tailback suspended for opener
Marshall University football will be without Marshall in its season opener.
Two-year starting tailback Darius Marshall is suspended for the Sept. 5 matchup with Southern Illinois following an incident in May when he was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession. Terrell Edwards will start in his place, backed by redshirt freshmen Martin Ward and Jordan Taylor.
The Thundering Herd running game likely will prove pivotal early while breaking in a new full-time starting quarterback in Brian Anderson and a talented, but unproven wide receiver group.
Edwards, a 6-foot-2, 208-pound sophomore, rushed for 154 yards last season, including touchdown runs of 53 and 49 yards.
"We'll go into the game with Terrell Edwards," Thundering Herd head coach Mark Snyder said. "He's the only one with game experience.
"We feel very comfortable with Martin Ward. My concern with Martin is holding onto the football, but you can see he's very talented.
"Jordan Taylor's got a little ways to go. He's got some work still to do. He'll have a limited role the first game and it'll be Terrell and Martin Ward."
Expect Edwards to earn a majority of handoffs. He appears recovered from a shoulder injury and has returned to power back form.
"He's a big back that runs low to the ground," Snyder said. "He lowers his shoulders very well, and he's a powerful back. I think fans are going to be pleasantly surprised with Terrell Edwards."
So many taller tailbacks have to learn running low the tough way, taking jarring torso shots. Edwards serves as the exception, Snyder said.
"He naturally does that," Snyder said. "He did that in high school. That's what we liked about him. Our defensive guys gripe all the time because he's always got that shoulder lowered when we not tackling and he's running through people."
Ward (5-9, 204) was recruited by several Southeastern Conference programs and has displayed top-shelf talent. The lone hiccup is the occasional fumble.
"It's a focus thing," Snyder said. "He's got to hold onto the football. That's what these practices are for. We're stripping at him every time we have an opportunity.
"He's got a little bit of power. He's got really good vision. He's got some power, but he's shifty as well.
"The scary thing with Martin is that it's his first college (action). The talent is there but it's his first chance in college to go out and play."
Darius Marshall, who rushed for 1,095 yards and five touchdowns last season, will be eligible for the Sept. 12 game at Virginia Tech. As for the opener, Snyder cautiously is confident.
"You always worry about the unknown, but Terrell has played," Snyder said. "He's waited his turn. I know he's excited. I think he wants to go take that job. You like that part of it."
SCRIMMAGE OPEN: Thundering Herd preseason camp kicks up a notch with Saturday's full scrimmage, which is open to the public. Practice begins at 10 a.m. at Joan C. Edwards Stadium and coincides with a Choose-A-Seat season ticket sales event.
Anthony Hanshew covers Marshall football for The Herald-Dispatch. He can be reached at 304-526-2766. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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