Depth on Herd's offensive line taking a hit
The hits just keep on coming for Marshall University’s offensive line.
To start his Tuesday press conference, Marshall head coach Doc Holliday announced that the career of tackle Jordan Jeffries has ended because of injury. The injury has to do with Jeffries’ hip, which had become a progressive problem for the senior from Oswego, Ill. “He’s got a hip that doctors told him every time he steps back on that practice field, it’s going to affect him as far as his quality of life down the road,” Holliday said. “He’s made that decision and he made the right decision.” While Jeffries won’t be on the field, the engineering major will be counted on as a vital cog to coach up some of the younger players, Holliday said.
“He’ll be at practice every day,” Holliday said. “The only difference is that instead of a uniform, he’ll have a whistle and a hat. He’s a great kid that’s going to be an engineer someday and he’ll be fine.” Jeffries was part of a three-man platoon at the tackle position as Marshall looked to run several bodies in and out of the lineup to keep players fresh.
With Jeffries out of the lineup last week Garrett Scott and Gage Niemeyer logged all 83 offensive snaps – the 81 recorded plays and the two plays brought back by penalty.
Clint Van Horn, who has seen time at tackle and guard, missed last week’s game with concussion-like symptoms, but is expected to return and fill the void left by Jeffries.
Marshall played just six offensive linemen against UTSA with true freshman Michael Selby backing up both guard spots.
In addition to the loss of Jeffries, the Herd had to shuffle the offensive front during its off-week before playing UTSA when offensive lineman and former starter Josh Lovell decided to leave the team for what was dubbed “personal reasons” by Holliday.
At the beginning of the season, the offensive line was thought to be a strength with position coach Alex Mirabal able to roll eight to 10 players out to get snaps.
Now, the offensive front is in a position where it can’t really afford to lose any one else for an extended period of time.
The hope is that the team can redshirt Cam Dees, who saw action as a true freshman last season, but has yet to take the field this season after suffering a concussion in the preseason camp.
That might be put to the test if the Herd sees another injury along the front.
To alleviate injuries, the Herd might use H-Back Devon Johnson a bit more frequently, perhaps even in a true tight end form. Johnson saw his most snaps on Saturday – mostly off-set at the H-Back spot in the backfield – and caught a 17-yard touchdown pass.
MORE INJURY NEWS: Florida Atlantic coach Carl Pelini said the Owls will be without cornerback Keith Reaser this week against Marshall, and likely for the rest of the season.
Pelini spoke on the loss of Reaser during his press conference this week.
“Keith is a leader on this team and people respect him,” Pelini said. “Sometimes it is easier to handle that loss in the midst of a game when everything is rolling and you put your guys in there.
“You don’t really know until your first full week of preparation without a guy like Keith. I have my fingers crossed on the test today, but we are prepared to go either way.”
Grant Traylor is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or gtraylor@herald-dispatch. com. Follow him on Twitter (@Grant-Traylor).
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