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Hungry Herd on defense

MU football
Aug. 06, 2013 @ 12:21 AM

HUNTINGTON -- As the old saying goes, to get where you are going, you must first know where you've been.

The players on Marshall's defense faced that exact omen on Monday afternoon.

Did they like bringing up a 2012 season in which they ranked near the bottom nationally in scoring defense?

Absolutely not.

But they owned it.

They know the 2012 statistics and they've waited nearly nine months to officially put those statistics aside.

Monday was the day.

Monday was the start of 2013 -- a year where the Herd is 0-0 and, in the players' minds, has the ability to do anything they want to do.

"The one word to sum it up is that we're hungry," Marshall strong safety D.J. Hunter said. "We're ready to get back out here because we've got something to prove this year. Last year, we were last in everything in defense and this year, we want to be on top in everything."

Marshall's defense ranked 119th out of 120 in scoring defense last year, which directly resulted in the team's struggles in several close games last season en route to a 5-7 finish.

It was an especially bitter pill to swallow, considering that Marshall's offense was one of the best in the nation in the 2012 season, finishing sixth in total offense.

"Being a defensive player and having that kind of season, you keep it in your back pocket," Marshall senior defensive end Jeremiah Taylor said. "You use it for fuel."

That fuel was evident in the spring when the defense came out and took it to the offense during the final two weeks to end spring practice on a high note.

Now, with the fall upon them and the season only 25 days away, the mindset has changed.

Players still think about it, but only as a memory.

"Having that happen to us last year, we're all hungry," Taylor said. "We want to change the culture around here. Everyone has that mindset. We're just putting it together."

As the Herd kicked off camp on Monday with two split-session practices, the defense was looking forward and showing off a new attitude and new swagger, which has been spearheaded by new defensive coordinator Chuck Heater.

Senior linebacker Billy Mitchell said the defense plans on following in the offense's footsteps. Of course, the offense had two less-than-stellar years in 2010 and 2011 before erupting in 2012.

"Our offense did amazing and now it's the defense's turn to turn it up a little bit," Mitchell said.

Marshall returns to practice for the second day of split-squad sessions on Tuesday with practices at 9:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m.

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