2019 Conference USA QB Preview: Marshall
Like several other current Conference USA schools, Marshall has a history of producing quality quarterbacks. While the majority of college football and NFL fans know about Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich, who each had long, successful careers in the NFL, those aren’t the only solid quarterbacks Marshall has produced over the last 15-20 years. Chase Litton, the most recent Marshall quarterback to make it to the next level, was on the Kansas City Chief’s practice squad last season and is currently on their roster now, hoping to make the 53-man roster for the 2019 season. Before Litton, there was Rakeem Cato under center. Cato is the career leader at Marshall in passing yards and passing touchdowns. After college, Cato played in the CFL for a few years as well as in an arena league. While he wasn’t able to make an NFL roster or preseason roster, he had a historic career at Marshall. Even Bernard Morris, who quarterbacked at Marshall a few years after Leftwich, had a solid last year at Marshall and went on to play more than half a decade in the AFL. I am not sure the average football fan realizes the talent that not only Marshall has produced at the quarterback position, but the talent the conference as a whole has produced as the quarterback position as well. As of today, and according to the NFL website, CUSA has the most quarterbacks on an NFL roster out of any Group of 5 Conference, that number is 8. Current Marshall quarterback and 2018 Conference USA Co-Freshman of the year, Isaiah Green, is on pace to become the next great Marshall quarterback and continue the line of CUSA quarterbacks to play at the next level.
Fans closer to the program than I may have heard different, but going into the 2018 season, I was under the impression that transfer quarterback Alex Thomson would be starting under center. From what I read and from what I saw people posting and talking about, there was some hype around Thomson and people were excited. Admittedly, I didn’t watch any film of him from when he was at Wagner so I had no opinion. When Green started the 2018 season under center, he quickly showed Marshall fans why he was the quarterback of the future. Green missed 3 and a half games during the middle of last season, and while Thomson came in and competed and helped Marshall get a couple of victories, it was obvious the offense was missing the big play ability that they had with Green under center. With Green as the established starter heading into 2019, I want to spend the majority of the article breaking down some of his film, what he does well as a passer, and how he can continue to improve to take the next step at the quarterback position. We will also briefly look at the depth behind him and how Marshall looks as a whole at the quarterback position.
2018 QB Performance
- Green- 2,459 yards passing, 15 passing touchdowns, 10 interceptions with a 56.7% completion percentage. Added 116 yards on the ground and 1 rushing score. Did all this in 9 ½ games as he missed several games to injury.
- Green had five games with at least 270 yards passing or more.
- Thomson- 506 passing yards, 5 passing touchdowns, 3 interceptions with a 53% completion percentage. Added 1 rushing touchdown. Started in 4 games when Green was injured, but was pulled mid-way through the 4th game he started (against Southern Miss).
- As a team, they averaged 228.1 yards per game passing, which ranked 8th in conference.
2019 QB Preview
Green, who will be a Redshirt Sophomore going into the 2019 season, is looking to build on a solid 2018 season. Green helped lead Marshall to a 9-win season, a bowl win over South Florida and coming close to making it to the conference championship. As Green takes the next step as a quarterback, I would not bet against Marshall getting back to the conference championship game sooner rather than later. Marshall’s only two conference losses last year came against Middle Tennessee and Southern Miss. Green did not play against Middle Tennessee and did not start against Southern Miss, but came off the bench after being injured for a few games. Green is a natural thrower with a smooth, effortless release. He demonstrates great touch and throws a very catchable ball, always giving his wide receivers a chance. He also has a great feel on when to put velocity on the ball, when to loft it, when to air it out, etc, which is all determined on the route by the receiver and the coverage by the defense. Most quarterbacks at this level can throw a good ball, but being able to put the right amount of touch or velocity can make the difference between a successful and a non-successful quarterback.
Like any young quarterback or quarterback in general, there is always room for improvement. As Green looks to take the next step in his development, cutting down on turnovers will be one of his focuses. In Green’s 9 ½ games played last year he had 13 turnovers according to CBS. He had 10 interceptions and 3 lost fumbles. In going back and watching his film from 2018, he tended to get in trouble when his mechanics faltered. He would have a tendency to throw off his back foot at times and not use his lower half as efficiently as he can, which would lead to some balls sailing or floating on him. Most throws in an actual game are never going to be perfect from a mechanical view point due to the pass rush and the window to fit the ball in, with that said, you still want to avoid throwing off your back as much as possible and eliminate trying to force things that aren’t there. With Green having a full season and off season as the starter, I expect we see the turnovers to decrease and the completion percentage to increase in the 2019 season.
Clips of Green from 2018
*Below is a clip of one of the things Green does so well and naturally, throwing the deep ball and giving his guys a chance to come down with it. Perfect ball here, good protection up front as well.
*Below is another clip of Green throwing the deep ball. Hits his receiver perfectly in stride for a touchdown. Smooth release and accurate ball downfield.
*Below is the last deep ball clip. Hits his receiver in stride even with the pass rush in his face.
*Below is a clip of Green demonstrating good anticipation throwing the ball before his receiver even breaks. This also shows his strong arm throwing from the opposite hash across the field.
*Last clip of Green shows what a good play fake can do by getting the defense out of position. Quick release and good job getting the ball into one of his playmakers hands.
*I would feel bad if I didn’t put a clip of their star receiver Tyre Brady. Brady has gone on to the NFL, but was a large part of Green’s success last year. Watch his strong hands here as the defensive back has no chance even with good coverage on the route.
Alex Thomson was Marshall’s back-up quarterback last year and started in several games. While you could tell there was an adjustment in getting use to the talent at the FBS level, as he transferred from Wagner before the 2018 season, he still managed to help Marshall get two wins when Green was injured. Thomson will provide good depth at quarterback and his experience last year will help him this year if his number gets called on. Marshall signed two quarterbacks this past recruiting class that will add depth as well as the other quarterbacks already on the roster.
Green is on pace to be the next great Marshall quarterback. With Mason Fine from UNT and James Morgan from FIU both being seniors this year, Green is next in line for contention on being the top CUSA quarterback, though there will be competition. Regardless, the Marshall football program is in good hands with Green under center and the fan base will be expecting another conference championship or two in the next few years.