Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday.
It is mind-boggling. It is stupefying. It is inconceivable.
Marshall University’s football program should be scouring the transfer portal for an experienced collegiate quarterback.
It would be nice to have at least one on the team because with the start of practice only three days away on Friday, the Thundering Herd has none.
Since former quarterback Isaiah Green’s departure, Marshall doesn’t have a single quarterback on its roster who has ever thrown a pass in a college football game.
Zero. Zilch. Nada.
The list includes Grant Wells, 6-foot-2, 204-pound redshirt freshman; Luke Zban, 6-2, 201-pound redshirt sophomore and former walk-on; Joel Lambiotte, 6-2, 192-pound redshirt freshman walk-on; and Eli Sammons, 6-6, 205-pound true freshman.
And not a pass attempt among them.
It simply isn’t supposed to happen. And it shouldn’t have in this instance.
Marshall is caught in this unheard-of predicament simply due to poor game management and even worse personnel management, because what makes this situation even more preposterous is the fact that the NCAA allows FBS programs to utilize players in four games while still maintaining a redshirt year.
A perfect example was West Virginia University, which used redshirt sophomore quarterback Jarrett Doege in the last four games of the Mountaineers’ 2019 season. Doege ended up leading WVU to a 20-17 season-ending win over TCU and a 24-20 victory over Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas, to go along with losses to Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.
The point is, Doege finished with 818 yards passing while completing 79 of 120 passes with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. And now he’s ready to be the Mountaineers’ starting quarterback.
Marshall could have been sitting in a somewhat similar situation if the Herd had managed its personnel as well as WVU head coach Neal Brown did.
But obviously that didn’t happen.
And there’s no excuse for it.
Marshall’s heir apparent quarterback — Wells — easily could have and most assuredly should have gotten considerable game experience during the 2019 season.
There was ample opportunity during at least six games.
In the opening season game against VMI, Marshall led 35-7 at halftime and 49-7 after three quarters. Yet Wells never played. In Marshall’s defense, however, senior backup quarterback Alex Thomson was 6 of 7 for 102 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Marshall gets a pass on that game.
But what about the blowout loss to the University of Cincinnati? MU trailed 28-0 at the half and 45-0 after three quarters, yet Green quarterbacked every play in the 52-14 shellacking.
Then there’s Rice. Marshall had a 20-7 lead after three quarters and the Owls had lost starting quarterback JoVoni Johnson to injury. His backup, Tom Stewart, was a miserable 1 of 9 passing for 6 yards. Yet, again, Green quarterbacked the entire game.
Next there was the 31-10 home victory over Louisiana Tech. The Herd outscored the Bulldogs 31-3 after the first quarter, yet Green again played the whole game.
Even the 24-13 loss at Charlotte was a possibility. I mean, what did the Herd have to lose? Green was 6 of 17 for 86 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. So what could using another quarterback have hurt?
Finally, there was the 48-25 blowout loss to UCF in the Gasparilla Bowl. MU trailed 45-25 after the third quarter and Green was struggling again with incompletions and interceptions, yet he finished the game.
The sad truth is there were ample opportunities to get Wells some game experience, but, instead, the George Washington High School product’s action consisted of one play on a fake punt for a 1-yard rush.
And that’s also the very definition of mismanagement.
Why, the most experienced quarterback on Marshall’s roster is 6-3, 250-pound tight end Garet Morrell. He actually started two games earlier in his career. Remember when Louisville and Lamar Jackson came to town? Morrell was 9 of 21 that day for 59 yards and two TDs.
Then he started the last game of the season against Western Kentucky when quarterback Chase Litton was suspended. Morrell was 19 of 35 for 143 yards with one TD and two interceptions.
So that’s the current state of Marshall football.
A reserve tight end has more signal-calling experience than the entire current QB corps.
The overwhelming irony in this situation is veteran Marshall head coach Doc Holliday absolutely detests fumbles.
But he dropped the ball on this one.