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Derek Redd: Will remake of Herd offense be as good as original?

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's never easy remaking a classic. But, by golly, Marshall offensive coordinator Bill Legg and his new corps of assistant coaches are going to try.

The Thundering Herd's 2012 offense often approached the sublime. No Football Bowl Subdivision team in America threw for more yards. Only five gained more yards per game and only six averaged more points. Be it by Rakeem Cato's arm, Tommy Shuler's hands or Kevin Grooms' legs, few opponents could corral it. Only Central Florida held it below 24 points, and it often left foes and fans alike shaking their heads at its almost unstoppable ability to march down the field.

Yet while much of that cast - Legg, Cato, Shuler and Grooms, among others - returns from that group, the Herd replaced all but one offensive assistant. And now Legg, alone as coordinator after sharing the role with Tony Petersen, leads a new crew of coaches. On paper, it looks as formidable as the old cast.

There's the familiar companion, new offensive line coach Alex Mirabal. There's the former defensive assistant cast in a new role, new tight ends coach Todd Hartley. There's the former SEC star, new running backs coach Thomas Brown. And there's the former NFC receptions leader, new receivers coach Mike Furrey.

It isn't easy replacing a good non-automatic qualifier coaching staff with pieces of the same caliber. The specter of an AQ school poaching its football offices looms constantly. But this group has the resume to pick up where the previous regime left off.

Looking like you can do it and actually doing it are different, though. Just look at Hollywood.

Will Marshall's 2013 offense shape up like the Cohen brothers' remake of "True Grit?" The Cohens didn't have long-gone John Wayne to cast, but Jeff Bridges was fantastic as Rooster Cogburn and the supporting cast plus the gorgeous cinematography made it one of the best films in recent years.

The Herd could have that in them. Legg and his new lieutenants employ a formidable gunslinger in Cato. He returns his top red zone target in tight end Gator Hoskins, his top target everywhere else in Shuler, a legion of blazing fast young running backs and the majority of his offensive line.

The coaches already have mentioned that "complacency" will be a dirty word this spring, so Marshall will work toward getting even better - and the idea of "better" with this offense should terrify opposing defenses.

Remakes don't always outdo the original, though. Remember Gus Van Sant's shot-for-shot remake of "Psycho?" It's OK if you don't. Most folks who did see it have purged it from their memories.

Van Sant's version of the Hitchcock masterpiece tried to convince us that the dude we loved trying to pick up cocktail waitresses in second-string casinos in "Swingers" could become the terror that Anthony Perkins was as Norman Bates. It didn't work.

That's not to say people didn't think it would work. Van Sant had just left movie critics salivating with "Good Will Hunting."

He had an all-star cast in Vince Vaughn, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy and Viggo Mortensen.

The pieces were in place for success. It's just that those pieces didn't come together as a whole.

And that could be the concern with Marshall's offense. No one doubts this staff's track record at their previous stops. They've all played or coached - or done both - at high levels, and the players they have to work with are nearly the same as the group that almost caused scoreboards to flash "TILT" in 2012.

But sometimes a talented group with the best intentions can't recapture the magic of the original.

Holliday is saying the 2013 remake of Marshall's record-breaking 2012 offense won't be a note-for-note reheating. You'll see a few edits here and there.

"We've got to become more physical up front, offensively," Holliday said. "We have to be able to change tempo at times and not always be a fast-paced 'red' team. We have to be able to slow it down and put hats on hats and knock people off the ball when we've got to get a yard."

Will it work? Sneak previews are available three days a week until April 27.

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.


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