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MCGILL: Bee Gives @HerdFB Athletic Look Up Front

Ryan Bee.
Sept. 1, 2017

By Chuck McGill

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – It has been 37 days since the Marshall football team starting practicing for this – the 2017 regular season opener against Miami (Saturday, 6:30 p.m.).

And boy is Levi Brown sick of seeing his friend Ryan Bee before every snap.

“He’s bigger – he put on about 20 pounds,” said Brown, a sophomore and the Thundering Herd’s starting center on the offensive line. “He’s strong as all get out. He’s long. It will be a great move for him.”

The move for Bee, a 6-foot-7, 282-pound junior, is to slide a few feet inside and play defensive tackle this season, instead of the end position he starred at the past two years. That means more 1-on-1 encounters for Brown and Bee in practice, so Brown has seen this experiment often over the past five weeks.

“The fact that Bee has played defensive end his whole life, he knows how to rush the passer better than a lot of people,” Brown said. “He knows how to use his hands in ways that are different than guards or centers.”



This isn’t Bee’s first experience with the position, though. Injuries forced Bee inside late last season, and in January he was told by the coaching staff that he was going to make the transition to defensive tackle full-time. He began to bulk up, among other necessary tasks as he made the switch.

“The main thing was gaining the weight and learning the new schemes,” Bee said. “I think when I got here I was 240 (pounds) on a good day.”

Bee enters Saturday’s game as the team’s leading returner in tackles for a loss (15.0), sacks (8.5) and fumbles recovered (4). Marshall coach Doc Holliday said the move “made us more athletic inside.”

Bee agreed. He’ll face a different type of offensive lineman on the interior, which should allow the Herd to get more athletic at all four defensive line spots.

“I was used to playing on the end so I was going against a little bit more athletic guys,” Bee said. “My athleticism down there will help me out.”

*Depending on initial offensive and defensive alignments, Marshall could have anywhere from eight to 10 first-time starters against Miami. Among the starters listed on the two-deep depth chart, there are two seniors, six juniors, one sophomore and two freshmen on offense, and two seniors, five juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen on defense.

“There’s a lot of new guys out there running around,” Holliday said. “It’s going to be fun watching those guys go play. I’m anxious to see our guys go play against somebody else.”

No matter the class, the coaching staff knows they’ll be discovering information about their players on the fly.

“First games there are a lot of unknowns … there’s going to be some adversity,” Holliday said. “First games, the coaches have to make some adjustments because they are going to do some things that are different than what they did a year ago and so are we. We’ll have to make some adjustments early on and the kids will have to handle those adjustments and go play.”

Other notes:

*Miami has dropped three straight in this series and eight of nine overall, but the program’s last successful trip to Huntington extends farther in the history books. Miami has lost five consecutive games in Huntington, last winning here in 1979 – a 28-0 win against the Herd.

*Marshall quarterback Chase Litton begins his junior season with 21 consecutive games with a touchdown pass, the longest active streak among FBS QBs. The next closest on this list is Middle Tennessee’s Brent Stockstill (16), followed by Penn State’s Trace McSorley (15).

Litton has already cracked the Thundering Herd program career list for completions, touchdown passes and completion percentage. He has a chance to break into the top 10 in career passing yardage against Miami. Litton needs 186 yards to tie Brian Anderson for No. 10 on the career list.

Litton also needs four touchdown passes to catch John Gregory for No. 6 in program history with 51.

This will be the 182nd game in the history of Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Marshall is 151-30, which comes out to a winning percentage of .834. Marshall has the fourth-best winning percentage in its current home, following Colorado State (1-0, 1.000), Houston (18-3, .857) and Georgia Southern (186-36, .838). The schools that follow Marshall on the list: Boise State, Alabama, Oklahoma, Penn State, Auburn and Ohio State.