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Marshall football: Defensive coordinator Rippon resigns

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Less than 24 hours after the Marshall football team's season ended with a 65-59 double-overtime loss to East Carolina, Defensive Coordinator Chris Rippon has resigned. 

The announcement was posted on the Marshall athletics website Saturday afternoon.

"I would like to thank Chris for all of his service to our program," Head Coach Doc Holliday said in the release. "We wish him and his family the best."

A search for his replacement is underway. Rippon declined comment, according to a university spokesperson.

The Thundering Herd had one of the worst statistical defenses in the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2012. Entering Friday's loss to the Pirates, Marshall was ranked 97th in total defense and 116th in scoring defense. It finished the year averaging 43.1 points and 456.6 yards allowed in 12 games. Marshall finished the season at 5-7 despite having Conference USA's top offense in average yards (534.2 per game) and points (40.9 per game) gained.

The Herd had a chance to win Friday's game in regulation, but the defense allowed East Carolina to convert a fourth-and-10 situation with less than two minutes left. ECU quarterback Shane Carden found Justin Hardy for a 19-yard completion and, nine plays later, Carden hit Danny Webster for a six-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone to send the game into overtime. 

After the game, Holliday pointed out that the teams in line to play for the conference championship – the University of Central Florida, provided the Knights beat the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Tulsa – are the top two defenses in the conference. He said the 2012 numbers wouldn't cut it in 2013.

"We have to get better on defense, that's just it," Holliday said. "We've got to start playing better defense around here to get where we've got to go." 

The Herd's defense began the year inauspiciously, chasing West Virginia University's offense around the field in a 69-34 loss. Marshall gave up at least 40 points seven times this season and gave up at least 50 points five times.

Rippon joined the Marshall staff in February 2010. He spent five years (1999-2003) as Syracuse's defensive coordinator and had stints at Syracuse (1995-98), Mississippi (2005-07) and Rutgers (2008) as special teams coordinator.

The 2012 Herd defense had to deal with the departure of defensive end Vinny Curry, the 2011 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year and the Philadelphia Eagles' second-round draft pick, and safety Omar Brown, who recently was released from the Baltimore Ravens' practice squad.

The Herd also dealt with injuries throughout the year. Linebacker Billy Mitchell missed the season's first six games recovering from a concussion and started five of the team's last six games. Linebacker Evan McKelvey (knee) was lost three games into the season and senior defensive captain Devin Arrington missed two games with a knee injury. The unit also missed 2011 starting corner Darryl Roberts (broken ankle) and four-star freshman corner A.J. Leggett (shoulder surgery) for the entire season. 

-- Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.


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