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Changes coming for Herd defense

The Parthenon

Published: Friday, March 29, 2013

Updated: Friday, March 29, 2013 00:03

Besides J.C. Price, who moved from defensive line coach to handle defensive tackles, the Thundering Herd enters 2013 with entirely new defensive coaches.

Defensive Coordinator Chuck Heater, linebacker Coach Adam Fuller, defensive ends Coach Sean Cronin and Price make up the current base on the defensive side of the ball.

Last season’s stats indicate a tough road for the new coaches. Marshall ranked 101st in total defense and 119th in scoring defense, which ranked next to last for FBS teams in 2012.

Heater said Tuesday, after the team’s first spring practice, that there were a few bright spots in his first chance to coach the unit on the field.

“They kind of had a good idea of what was going on, and that was good because we had a lot of new things happening in terms of systems. So, that was encouraging,” Heater said. “Some guys kind of just need to get a bit of football about them. With a bunch of guys, we have to coach and get them to play better, but there are a lot of positive things.”

Heater and Fuller are entering the Conference USA ranks for the first time. The conference takes a different approach to offense, with most teams employing a high octane spread attack. Heater said the coaches will be able to gauge other defenses by practicing against the Herd offense and their fast-paced system.

“You get a lot of teams that play similarly to how we play with fast tempo and spread offenses so we’ve seen those and we know how to do it,” Heater said. “It’s good if our offense does it because it’s got good carryover for us and puts us in uncomfortable situations like we’ll see in real life situations. We’ll have to adjust, but it gives us a good idea about what’s going on out there.”

From a player’s perspective, defensive lineman Jeremiah Taylor said the overall tactics with the new coaches are similar to some of the older ones.

“Really, it’s not that much different,” Taylor said. “You just have a few tweaks here and there. Pretty much it’s just the same plays, but different names.”

Taylor added that some differences come from coaching philosophy. Taylor said Cronin stresses repetition and hard work to the defensive ends in practice.

“He emphasizes effort,” Taylor said. “The stuff we need to know, we’ll get later through repetition. The thing he is harping on is effort and trying to make us go 100 percent all the time.”

Taylor also said the philosophies of two new coaches help his position to see things in a different way.

“We’ve got two new defensive linemen coming in with different perspectives with Coach Price and Coach Cronin,” Taylor said. You’re going to gain perspective from both guys.”

The team is hoping that perspective will produce results in spring practice, as the first kickoff against Miami Ohio on August 31 does not seem too far away.

Kyle Gibson can be contacted at


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