A three and nine record a year ago left the Marshall Thundering Herd in a strange position. After all the Herd did average ten wins the three seasons before 2016, so a tough end to last year already had this team mentally gearing up for 2017.
"At first you dwell on it. It wasn't the season you wanted and your sad for a minute. Them you realize next season is coming whether you're ready or not. So that's what we've been trying to do," said senior offensive lineman Levi Brown.
And the 2017 season is going to start behind the arm of Junior quarterback Chase Litton who's started every year since he's been on campus. He led the Herd to a double digit win season his freshman but no doubt hit the sophomore slump after last year's disappointment, still, he says he's ready to take on what he expects to be his toughest season yet.
"When you're at this level it's all from the neck up. That's what separates the guys from who's successful and who's not. I've taken that on the chin and realize this bond and team is the most important thing," said Litton.
The run game didn't exactly take much weight off Litton's shoulders. The Herd's group of backs averaged about 108 yards per game, the lowest total in Conference USA, an area they think they've got depth and skill at this season.
"We're stacked on backs right now. Everybody compliments everybody. Right now we just take it a day at a time and trust the coaches and Doc Holliday and coach Pierson tells us,” said junior running back Keion Davis.
"Any great team needs to run the football. We've made improvements upfront. We've made improvements in the running backs room and we've made improvements on the offensive side of the football. I think that' something you're going to see us be able to do more. I'm excited to see how we run," said senior tight end Ryan Yurachek.
But maybe the most exciting factor surrounding this 2017 team will be the number of transfers who've been sitting on the sideline but haven't played. Wide receiver Tyre Brady sat out a season ago after transferring from Miami, as did former Alabama commitment, JaQuan Yulee, who didn't meet required test scores and joined Doc Holliday's team.
“Like I said it's been five hundred some days since I've been on the field. I'm just taking it day by day and going by how much I can do and what the coaches tell me is the best for me. I'm basically listening and I hope I can perform on the field," said Yulee.
"Last year was a bump. But we're focused on this year. We're a whole different team and we're ready," said Brady.