HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall's No. 1 issue in spring practice is beyond obvious - it is the overhaul of a defense that ranked 101st in the major-college ranks in total yardage and 119th in points yielded.
To that end, the Thundering Herd has a new defensive coordinator and two other new coaches on that side of the ball. Add in a few midyear newcomers, and position and two-deep changes should be plentiful.
But coach Doc Holliday says the offense will not be overlooked, even with its 534 yards and 41 points per game, not to mention Conference USA's offensive player of the year in quarterback Rakeem Cato.
The biggest area of concern, from a standpoint of replacing departed personnel, is the wide receiver position, where the Herd lost NFL prospect Aaron Dobson, Antavious Wilson and Andre Snipes-Booker. Other positions are populated with returning starters and veterans.
But that doesn't mean the offense can't be beefed up. "Beef" being the operative term, as Holliday looks to upgrade the running attack.
Not that the Herd was destitute there, netting 2,030 yards with 24 touchdowns, and showing four battle-tested runners in Kevin Grooms, Steward Butler, Remi Watson and Essray Taliaferro.
But the Herd still rushed for fewer than 100 yards four times, thus putting Cato and the passing game in tough situations. That contributed to the 20 turnovers, a few too many for any coach's liking.
"Offensively, we've got to improve in a lot of areas," Holliday said. "We've got to become more physical up front. We have to be able to run the football; at times we've got to be able to change tempos not be a fast-paced, 'red' team. At times we've got to be able to slow it down, put hats on hats, knocking people off the ball. When we've got to get a yard, get a yard.
"[New assistant] Alex Mirabal has done a super job with the offensive line. We've got to get more physical up front - we've got to get better in all areas. Quarterbacks have to continue to grow, receivers have to make plays, those [freshmen] who played a year ago, along with Taliaferro, have to continue to grow in all areas."