It's not just a jump in senior population, though the 16 on the roster this year dwarfs the eight that populated the 2012 roster. There are plenty of juniors, like Wilkins, Shuler, quarterback Rakeem Cato and center Chris Jasperse, who have taken on that role, too. More players have been in the Herd program three years or longer and they've taken ownership of it.
"This is the first time we've had a lot of leaders," Jasperse said. "It's not just four or five guys. We have, like, 20 leaders, really capable leaders that have done a great job. It's really helped things run a lot smoother.
"They say you want to have more Indians than chiefs," he added. "Sometimes it's good to have a couple of chiefs out there. Those chiefs get together, they work together, and it's great."
Those veteran players also know the importance of keeping the team focused, no matter the opponent, which could be important as the Herd gets ready for the Panthers (1-9, 1-5 C-USA). FIU's only victory this season came in a one-point win over winless Southern Mississippi, a team Marshall beat by 48 points. The Panthers are last in C-USA in scoring offense (10.1 points per game) and total offense (223.7 yards per game), and are 11th or worse in the 14-team league in several other categories.
But with this win streak comes the desire to keep it going, Shuler said. The players want the team meals to keep tasting better. They want the weights to feel lighter. That comes with winning and that, he said, keeps the team from looking past a struggling opponent like FIU. Because if Marshall doesn't win this weekend, the chances of playing for an East Division title or a conference title start to shrink.
"Knowing we can control our destiny and play for a championship, that would be big," Shuler said. "Like (Coach Doc Holliday) said, we don't want that taste in our mouth that we had at Middle Tennessee, walking off the field after the last play of the game. We don't want that taste anymore."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.r...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.