For the first time since the 2015 season, the Marshall Thundering Herd broke in a new starting quarterback to start a season Saturday in the season opener on the road at historic rival Miami (OH).
The unexpected departure of three-year starting quarterback Chase Litton caught Marshall football followers by surprise, but when the Herd signed highly-touted graduate transfer quarterback Alex Thomson, it appeared as if Litton’s heir apparent was already a done deal.
However, a redshirt freshman quarterback named Isaiah Green changed that notion with stellar play throughout the offseason leading into the 2018 season and coupled with some lingering injury issues for Thomson from last season at Wagner, Green was officially named the starter an hour before the Herd’s season opener on Saturday.
Marshall and the RedHawks of Miami have a long football history together and the 2018 meeting looked to be a crucial game for both teams. The question on every Herd fans’ mind was how would Green do in his first collegiate start? He wasted little time proving what he is capable of doing.
Green led the Herd down the field for two touchdown drives of 75 yards and 80 yards respectively to open up the game with a 14-0 lead after the first quarter of play. After Miami scored its first touchdown of the game with 2:32 remaining in the second quarter, Green led one final first-half touchdown drive.
The 11-play, 75-yard drive was capped off with an Anthony Anderson 1-yard touchdown run that was set up after a beautiful Green pass to Tyre Brady that went for 21 yards. Marshall took a 21-7 lead into halftime and Green looked poised and composed throughout the entire half.
The redshirt freshman would notch his first career touchdown pass at Marshall with 6:32 remaining in the third quarter when he threw a perfect pass to Brady for a 30-yard touchdown to extend the Herd’s lead to 28-7.
But those pesky RedHawks didn’t go away and after two straight touchdowns, Marshall’s lead was down to 28-21 with 9:20 remaining in the game and Miami had all the momentum with the home crowd getting back in the game as well.
After an electrifying 50-yard punt return by Marshall’s Tyler King, the Herd added one final touchdown when Green again connected with Brady on a spectacular touchdown, this time a 21-yard strike to give the Herd a 35-21 lead with 5:27 to go in the fourth quarter.
The Herd did have to weather one final Miami touchdown, but Marshall pulled out a 35-28 win over the RedHawks to open up the season 1-0. The Herd has now won 10 out of the last 11 against Miami including five straight.
There are still plenty of improvements to be made as the season progresses, but everyone involved with Marshall football should be pleased with the play of Green in his first start at quarterback for the Herd. He played about as well as one could have hoped for under the circumstances.
The 2 1/2 hour weather delay threw a wrinkle into everyone’s day, but given how Green was making his first collegiate start on the road against a historic rival that’s supposed to contend for a MAC East Division Championship this season, that was even more pressure on him.
Not only did he handle the pressure, he did so with flying colors. Green finished the game completing 24 of 37 pass attempts for 272 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers, good for a 71.6 quarterback rating on a scale of 0-100.
He completed 65 percent of his passes, threw for 272 yards and two touchdowns, and didn’t turn the ball over at all, that’s a productive day for any quarterback. But for a quarterback making his first start on the road, that looks even better.
Green did miss a few passes like any quarterback misses week in and week out, but even with a few misses and a dropped pass or two, he still had a high completion percentage.
He also made several plays with his feet and his athleticism and escapability definitely throw a different wrinkle into Marshall’s offense moving forward. Green’s debut with the Herd ranks among the top five in pass attempts, completions, and passing yards for a quarterback making his first career start.
Is this redshirt freshman the next great Marshall quarterback? If his first start is any indicator, he could fit that mold. Only time will tell, but so far so good.
Green and the Herd will look to keep the momentum rolling at home on Sept. 8 against Eastern Kentucky in Marshall’s 2018 home opener.