The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 31, 2012

Marshall has moved past UCF debacle

By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor

— How do you treat a 54-17 beatdown?

Doc Holliday has the answer.

“We’ve put that last game behind us,” the third-year Marshall coach said, referring of course to last Saturday’s monumental loss to Central Florida.

It probably is best for all involved to forget what happened on a cold, wet night and focus on what appears to be a much more favorable portion of the schedule. A game against 1-7 Memphis should be a good start.

The Tigers visit Joan C. Edwards Stadium at 2 p.m. Saturday. The game will not be televised.

It will be the second straight game for Marshall (3-5, 2-2 Conference USA) against a team that is bolting for the Big East Conference — although the Big East is attracted strictly to Memphis’ basketball program.

The football team has seen better days. The Tigers were 2-10 a year ago and have lost three of four conference games this season under first-year coach Justin Fuente.

The numbers don’t suggest much improvement in the land of Elvis.

Memphis averages just 17.5 points and 286.5 yards of offense per game. Quarterback Jacob Karam, a transfer from Texas Tech, has only been intercepted twice in 191 pass attempts, but the Tigers have lost 14 fumbles in eight games.

The Tigers resort more to their running game to move the ball, which makes 14 fumbles look even worse. They average 140.2 yards on the ground, with five players running at least 33 times this season.

The Herd defeated Memphis 23-22 in the next-to-last game of the 2011 regular season. That team was highlighted by a talented defensive line, led by Kansas City Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe.

When looking at the Tigers, Holliday notices the effort instead of the 1-7 record.

“They play extremely hard from a year ago to now,” he said. “Regardless of their record, they show up and play. They have been in just about every game they’ve played in up until the end of some games. They’re doing some really good things.

“When you watch them (on film), you can see they’ve made great improvements from a year ago. We have to make sure we’re prepared.”

Which is possibly the bigger battle this week for the Herd.

“It’s important that we go out there and take care of ourselves,” Holliday said. “We have to make the plays that we’ve been making all year. Offensively all year long, we’ve made plays and last week we didn’t do that. We have to make sure we get back into doing that this week.”

Holliday has said it all week — from dropped passes to missed tackles, the spiraling loss to UCF came down to not making plays.

“When you don’t make the plays you’re supposed to make, then those (missed assignments) get magnified,” he said. “We just didn’t make enough plays. ... We are very capable of making those corrections and making sure that doesn’t happen again. It sure can’t this week because we have to play extremely well.”

— E-mail: gfauber@