CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- D.J. HUNTER richly deserves his honor as a Freshman All-American, as awarded by Sporting News, and it seemingly bodes well for the near future of Marshall football.
It does not speak well for the present, however.
Let's recap the honor roll for the Thundering Herd: Quarterback Rakeem Cato was named most valuable player in Conference USA, and running back Kevin Grooms is the freshman of the year.
Cato and receiver Tommy Shuler were first-team All-Conference USA picks, while receiver Aaron Dobson and tight end Gator Hoskins were second-team picks. Dominick LeGrande was a second-team pick on defense, while three offensive linemen were among the honorable mention picks.
Hunter was not on the honorable mention list somehow, but he was one of four Herd players on the All-Freshman team.
He started the final 11 games after Herd coaches got smart and shifted him to linebacker, where he immediately became the best at that position despite being undersized. He made 102 tackles, most among freshmen in C-USA, and had an 18-tackle
performance in the season finale against East Carolina.
Don't blame him for the defense's troubles, for he often made tackles a long, long way from his position. I cringe at the thought of Hunter not getting on the field, as well as I cringe at the thought of the season without LeGrande and Okechukwu Okorha. Just how bad would MU's defense have been?
With all these awards, you've got to ask yourself: Exactly how did Marshall finish 5-7 and sit home for bowl season?
Now that I'm warmed up, some other throw-downs:
The idea comes about after watching this Herd team repeatedly botch stickbacks, layups and even dunks over the last two weeks. Saturday night against Coppin State, MU wiped the glass with the Eagles, collecting 20 offensive rebounds. Coppin had only 21 defensive rebounds, which further illustrates the Herd's dominance.
Except the Herd wasn't so dominant converting those into points. MU was credited with just 10 second-chance points, about a half-point per offensive board.
I am not sure what a good or average number would be, but I know that's not acceptable. It's a large reason this Marshall team is looking so ugly in the last four games.
For the season, Marshall has 131 second-chance points off 159 offensive rebounds, while opponents have scored 98 points off 125 offensive boards. The Herd has a better average (0.82), but I'm thinking that's not great.
In the last four games, it's worse - 36 second-chance points on 71 offensive boards, including two off 10 boards against West Virginia. The four foes have scored 44 points off 53 offensive boards, a much-better 0.83 average.