HUNTINGTON - The most popular word on the initial Marshall football depth chart is its shortest - or. Those two letters link together two, three, even four names at various positions, making the order of first-, second- and third-string lineups much more fluid.
But the abundance of "or" doesn't mean that Coach Doc Holliday couldn't find a starter in those roles. On the contrary, that means he has more than one player he feels can crack the first string as the Thundering Herd prepares for its season opener at 7 p.m. Saturday against Miami University on the CBS Sports Network.
"Whenever you see an 'or' there, they're projected starters," Holliday said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. "Those guys that are 'ors' are considered starters and they'll play as much as the other guys."
The defensive lineup has a lot of wiggle room. Only four of the 11 positions don't have the word "or" between the first and second names. Middle linebacker Jermaine Holmes, strong safety D.J. Hunter, free safety Taj Letman, and nickelback Corey Tindal are the only concrete starters.
Otherwise, the defensive lineup is flexible: Jeremiah Taylor or Ra'Shawde Myers at one end, Alex Bazzie or Myers at the other. Brandon Sparrow or Jarquez Samuel at nose tackle, Steve Dillon or James Rouse at defensive tackle, Evan McKelvey or Neville Hewitt at weakside linebacker, Monterius Lovett or Derrick Thomas at one corner and Darryl Roberts or Thomas at the other corner.
The offensive lineup is more solid. Only three of the 11 starting spots have two names: Davonte Allen or Devon Smith at the "X" receiver, Sebastian Johansson or Josh Lovell at left guard and Essray Taliaferro or Kevin Grooms at running back. The rest of the starting lineup is Craig Wilkins at the "Z" receiver, Tommy Shuler in the slot, Gage Niemeyer at left tackle, Chris Jasperse at center, Alex Schooler at right guard, Garrett Scott at right tackle, Gator Hoskins at tight end and Rakeem Cato at quarterback.
Holliday considers the lineup's configuration a testament to the Herd's depth, something it hasn't had as much of in years past.
"At Florida, we had a lot of 'ors,' but not (at Marshall) since I've been here," the former West Virginia, Florida and North Carolina State assistant said. "It gives us an opportunity to play a lot more people, which is good."
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MYERS' CLIMB up the depth chart has been quick. He started one game last year - at defensive tackle versus West Virginia - and recorded just 16 tackles, 2.5 for a loss, in 11 games. This season, he's grown as a player to a point where Holliday considers him the equal of two players in Bazzie and Taylor who started every game at end last season.
"He's holding his weight, he's had an excellent camp and he's as good as those other guys right now," Holliday said. "He deserves to play. He can be the rush and the drop end, so he's able to play both."
Myers feels he's become a much better player and said he's gained about 20 pounds from last season, which has helped him become a better run stopper.