Chuck Landon: Holliday gets help from old WVU pal
Give Doc Holliday credit.
When Marshall's head coach recognizes a problem in his football program, he addresses it.
The Herd's anemic offense.
Although Marshall produced a 7-6 record including a Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl win, it was in spite of the offense rather than because of it. Simply put, Marshall's impotent offense was one of the worst in the country in 2011.
The Herd ranked near the bottom among 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools in total offense (No. 102, 333.38 yards), first downs (No. 110, 16.23), fourth-down conversion percentage (No. 117, 25.0 percent) and rushing touchdowns (tied for No. 117, nine).
Why, Marshall's opponents actually outscored the Herd, 28.6 points to 21.8 per game last season.
How often is a team going to compile a winning record with that sort of deficit?
That's why Holliday is addressing the offensive woes during Marshall's ongoing spring practices at Edwards Stadium. First, he revealed that offensive coordinator Bill Legg would move from the sidelines, where he called plays the last two seasons, to the press box beside quarterback coach and co-offensive coordinator Tony Petersen.
But that move wasn't as intriguing as what happened at practice on Tuesday.
The smattering of fans in the Edwards Stadium stands may have noticed a tall, lanky, sandy-haired guy following the offense around while he scribbled notes.
If that name sounds familiar to Mountain State fans -- especially of the WVU persuasion -- it's because it should. Mullen was the Mountaineers' offensive coordinator for three seasons (2008-2010) under former coach Bill Stewart.
And who spent two seasons on that same WVU staff with Mullen?
So, when Doc needed a respected offensive mind to take a look at Marshall's struggling offense and offer an evaluation, he contacted Mullen.
According to multiple sources, Mullen allegedly was paid to give Holliday an evaluation of the pros and cons he saw from Marshall's offense during Tuesday's practice.
Mullen was spotted exiting the Shewey Building prior to Marshall's practice on Wednesday, apparently leaving to return to Charlotte, N.C., where he serves as offensive coordinator for the University of Charlotte.
Since the 49ers' fledgling program doesn't begin competing in FBC until the 2013 season, Mullen was available to do some contract work.
That's fortunate for Marshall.
A fresh set of eyes is often hugely beneficial for any coaching staff that may not see the proverbial forest for the trees simply because its aides witness the same players and the same plays day after day.
A new perspective on an offense that grew progressively more stale last season could be invaluable.
That's why bringing Mullen in was such a smart move, although it was fairly unprecedented.
If Mullen spotted just one flaw that could be fixed or offered only one piece of advice that could make a positive difference, it was money well spent.
So, yes, give Holliday credit.
He's trying to put a better offensive product on the field for next season.
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Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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