When the Marshall Thundering Herd invade Nippert Stadium on Saturday, there will be a lot of players wearing green. Some will play well, some will play poorly and some won’t play at all. The same goes for the Cincinnati Bearcats. But you can’t be expected to know every single player, so here’s a cheat sheet of the players that will matter most in this game.
Tyre Brady, WR
The 6’3 wideout and former Miami (FL) recruit put on a show against North Carolina State in week two, tallying 248 yards and a touchdown on 11 receptions. That’s Randy Moss-esque. Such an effort has inflated Brady’s numbers to an extent, but he is a favored target for the offense and, considering Marshall’s weak run game so far, he’s the best playmaker on the roster. His matchup with Linden Stephens and the rest of the UC secondary will go a long way in determining how this game plays out.
Tyler King, RB
So remember how two sentences ago I said Marshall has a weak run game? Throw that out the window. It still does, but King may be turning things around for the ground game. A redshirt freshman that comes in just below 6’0, King rushed for 101 yards and a score on 14 carries against Kent State in Marshall’s last game, the first of King’s career. Kent State may be the No. 130 team in the country as measured by S&P+, but that’s still a strong output for a freshman. King needs to be monitored, especially since UC has not exactly cracked down on the running game.
Chase Litton, QB
With only four touchdown passes and three interceptions in two games, you may think that Litton isn’t a quarterback that needs to be worried about all that much. If you think that, you are wrong. In week two, NC State sure didn’t get a taste of a run-of-the-mill quarterback as he threw for 350 yards on 60.5 percent passing (26-of-43). The problem for Litton is that he hasn’t done much in terms of throwing scores, but then again, Marshall has only scored a touchdown on 3-of-7 red zone trips, so that is more of a team-wide issue.
Keion Davis, KR/RB
There’s a reason Marshall has a positive reading in special teams S&P+ and UC doesn’t and its not just because of the Bearcats’ problems in the kicking game. Davis is one of several strong special teams performers for the Herd, having run back two kick returns for touchdowns while averaging 44.3 yards per return.
Ryan Bee, DL
Bee is a monster of a man, standing at 6’7 and weighing in at 280 pounds. He has leveraged that size to produce at a relatively high level from the defensive line, racking up 18 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks in his three years with Marshall. His pass rushing has improved this season and that has shown in his sack total (3.0) which already has him on pace to break the personal-best of 4.5 he had a year ago.
Hayden Moore, QB
Which Moore are we going to get? The one who could barely complete a pass against Michigan and Miami (Ohio) or the one who lit up Navy like a Christmas tree? If its the latter then strap in because the offense is going to be humming, with big plays breaking out all over the field. Despite Bee and a few other’s efforts, Marshall isn’t a great defensive team, so this sets up as a day for Moore to prove he can be consistently excellent.
Mike Boone, RB
Boone was never really in danger of losing his starting running back job as he sat out the last two games with an ankle injury. Gerrid Doaks did fine as the fill-in but Boone’s talent is too great for him to be sidelined when healthy. He is listed as probable for this game and if he does end up playing, it will be worth seeing if he still has the explosive ability that has been his trademark.
Devin Gray, WR
Gray is a good receiver and last week he finally reminded us of that. With six catches and 112 yards against Navy he more than doubled his season output for catches and yards in one game. Gray and Moore’s fates may be intertwined here since Moore can only play as well as his receivers, who have dropped a few too many passes early. We know Kahlil Lewis is going to be a big part of the passing game, but Gray’s reemergence can lift the offense to new heights.
Cortez Brought, DL
The defensive line was supposed to be somewhat of a strength this season and it really hasn’t been. Flashes from Kevin Mouhon and Marquise Copeland have kept Bearcat fans from the panic button, but Broughton’s less than stellar play has been concerning. He’s an all-conference talent when playing to his potential, but thus far he has only one sack and has not been as involved as expected. With four games already gone, Broughton is running out of time to show that this is just a slow start.
Jaylyin Minor, LB
There’s one thing Minor hasn’t been doing for the defense and that’s rushing the passer. It can be partially put on the scheme, but the team’s leading tackler (31) has yet to record a single quarterback takedown this year. The team as a whole hasn’t rush the passer all that well (sound familiar?) and it may need Minor to lead the way in the other direction.