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New Marshall football head man Huff looks to bring aggression to Herd
Newest Thundering Herd football coach Charles Huff laid out his plan for the program during his introductory press conference on Jan. 19. (Photo: Austin O’Connor, Courtesy: Marshall University Athletics)

New Marshall football head man Huff looks to bring aggression to Herd

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (BVM) — One thing was abundantly clear during his introductory press conference as the Marshall football head coach: Charles Huff is passionate about winning.

 “I want to win every game whether it’s checkers or Connect4,” Huff said during his introductory press conference on Jan. 19. “If we’re playing, we’re playing to win.”

As an assistant coach for 17 years, Huff knows a thing or two about how to win games. As an associate head coach and running backs coach for the Alabama Crimson Tide over the past two seasons, Huff has certainly been used to winning ways, helping the Tide to a 24-2 during his time in Tuscaloosa.

It also didn’t hurt that Huff helped mold one of the team’s greatest weapons in running back Najee Harris, who ended his Tide career as the program’s all-time leader in total touchdowns, rushing touchdowns and rushing yards. Huff has had a thing for molding running backs, as he was also the running backs coach at Penn State from 2014-17 and helped Saquon Barkley become one of the most electrifying players in all of college sports. While his other stops at Mississippi State (2018), Western Michigan (2013), the Buffalo Bills (2012), Vanderbilt (2011), Hampton University (2010), Maryland (2009) and Tennessee State University (2006-08) may not have had the high profile names of Harris and Barkley, his units were still able to deliver a significant punch for their respective programs.

It is due to this success that Huff was given the reins for a Marshall program that finished last season with a 7-3 record and a second-place finish in Conference USA. It is in the idea that the team is not in need of a total rebuild, but a reload, that Huff is excited about. He wants to bring a new attitude to the Herd with him on the sidelines.

“We’re going to be the fastest, physical, most aggressive football program in the country,” Huff said. “We want other teams saying after the game ‘I hate playing that team, don’t put them on the schedule because I hate playing them.’”

The culture surrounding the program was also one that drew Huff in. With a storied history of football and with a rabid fan base, Huff knew there was something special about Marshall and the Herd faithful. He also knows that in order to be successful, it is as much about the people supporting the team as it is about the people on the field.

“Everybody is going to have to be all in,” Huff said. “It’s not just me, my staff and the players. I need every fan, every alumni to get out of your house. COVID is going to pass and God willing we will be filling the stadium up. We need everybody pulling the rope in the same direction.”

As far as how he visualizes what the offense will look like, Huff wants to bring a combination of what he has learned from his stops like Alabama and Mississippi State while also integrating some NFL concepts. He hopes to have his offense to be an RPO style while sprinkling in classic NFL drop back football as well. Huff hopes this brings an exciting atmosphere to the team and its fanbase.

“It produces a fun brand of football,” Huff said. “I think everybody likes when the scoreboard goes up in our favor and that’s the goal. You cannot win the game if you don’t score and if you’re not trying to score why are you playing?”

As far as advice Huff received from his mentors before arriving at the job, the new head man mentioned some words of wisdom from his most recent cohort Nick Saban, a West Virginia native.

“Coach Saban loves this state,” Huff said. “The one thing he told me in our discussion before I left was that it’s a very proud state and a very proud university. He said, ‘If you go there and it’s done right, you’ll never want to leave.’ … In the 24 hours, 48 hours I’ve been here from the coffee shop, to the hotel, to the gas station, this community is screaming for energy, enthusiasm and getting this program back to the days we all know.”

With a youthful, experienced and somewhat successful program already in place, Huff will have the opportunity to build on what the previous regime was able to accomplish. With a large core of players returning for a team that was featured in the AP Top 25 for multiple weeks in 2021, the expectations are as high as the mountains surrounding the campus, but Huff isn’t worried about that.

“The expectations are high, but I can promise you that my expectations are higher,” Huff said. “We can do this together. We can do this united because we are Marshall.”

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