Georgia State at Marshall: What to look for

– By Bill Cornwell

HUNTINGTON, W.Virginia — Can Marshall go undefeated in November?

The answer to that question comes as the Thundering Herd (7-4, 4-3) wrap up the regular season Saturday afternoon by hosting Georgia State (4-7, 3-4) at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

The game will be shown on ESPN+.

Marshall has already beaten Old Dominion, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern this month, with last week’s 23-10 win over the Eagles earning Marshall his coveted bowl eligibility.

That same day, the Panthers fell 42-40 at James Madison when the Dukes came from behind to prevent Georgia State from having a shot at bowl eligibility.

Shawn Elliott is in his sixth year as the Panthers head coach. He has a 34-37 record at Atlanta. Elliott is familiar with the Marshall program because he was a player at Appalachian State against Thundering Herd from 1991-1995.

Here are three things to look out for on Seniors’ Day in Huntington:

More work for Ali

It came as a surprise to Marshall fans last Saturday when running back Rasheen Ali saw action at Georgia Southern. It was the first season of the season for Ali, who was considered one of the top players in the Sun Belt Conference after an incredible preseason 2021 season.

Ali was injured in the late stages of preseason practice in August, but he led the nation in 25 touchdowns last year while picking up 1,401 yards on the ground.

He didn’t show much rust last week carrying the ball 16 times for 79 yards.

The combination of Ali with backwater Khalan Laborn, a Florida State transfer who has led the offense this season with over 1,300 rushing yards, gives Marshall quite a 1-2 punch that Georgia State needs to find a way to to contain him.

Make the panthers one-dimensional

At the heart of Georgia State’s offense is senior quarterback Darren Grainger.

The Conway, South Carolina native is the definition of a double threat quarterback. He’s threw for 2,140 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, but he’s also rushed for 718 yards and six points. He’s the Panthers’ lead rusher and a master of run-pass option play with a bit of straight option football.

Grainger will be a big challenge for Marshall’s defense, which remains one of the stingiest in the nation, especially against the run.

However, the herd surrendered 143 yards on the ground to Georgia Southern’s Jalen White last week.

Now it’s the herd defense’s job to contain Grainger on Saturday and try to eliminate the threat of a ground game. That, in turn, should make it easier for Marshall to defend Georgia’s temporary assault.

Further development for a more experienced cam fancher

Marshall Redshirt freshman quarterback Cam Fancher is clearly playing with confidence as the regular season wraps up.

If Francher continues to take these steps, it will spell trouble for Panther. Fancher threw two touchdowns each in victories over Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, in addition to a 19-yard touchdown run against the Eagles.

Fancher’s performance has continued to rise since his first start of the season in a win at James Madison, when he overtook Henry Colombi as the team’s No. 1 quarterback.

Fancher isn’t exactly going to impress with a big arm, but his passing ability is enough and his athletic ability sets him apart and allows him to display qualities he learned during his time as the state triple jump champion at Wayne High School in Huber Heights has shown , Ohio.

The redshirt freshman will look to improve to 5-1 as a starting quarterback on Saturday.