HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The overriding question for Marshall fans Saturday night is if they will see an improved defense.
A subplot: How will cornerbacks play receivers in man-to-man coverage?
Nobody in the Thundering Herd camp is going to show his hand, understandably. The fact that it's a first game under a new defensive coordinator is presenting visiting Miami's offense a difficult preparation task.
But if you ask any cornerback his preference, he will tell you he wants to play man-to-man on every down. Corners all think they're Darrelle Revis, you know.
If you ask any Herd fan, he'd like the corners to play their man-to-man a little closer - in the same area code, preferably. Former defensive coordinator Chris Rippon was blasted to the moon and back for using soft cushions outside, which led to easy 8-yard passes.
Not this year, Derrick Thomas says: "There's no more 9 yards off the ball anymore, playing soft coverage. It's not in our strategy anymore."
Wide receiver Tommy Shuler confirmed he has been cleared for full contact after suffering a fracture of his fifth metatarsal in a foot. It's a pesky injury that tends to heal on its own schedule, and Marshall trainers were very cautious this month.
That, and Shuler's injury apparently healed quicker than most.
"I've just been blessed to get out there quickly," Shuler said.