By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Marshall picked up a big win over Southern Miss last season thanks to a heavily disruptive defense that sacked quarterback Austin Davis five times and forced six turnovers.
Davis is no longer with Southern Miss. But, perhaps even more importantly, Vinny Curry is no longer with the Thundering Herd.
Curry keyed the defense that wreaked havoc on the Golden Eagles that entire early September afternoon. He had three of the five sacks and 4 1/2 tackles for loss, including one that resulted in a fourth-quarter safety.
Curry was a second-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in April. With his departure, the Herd seems to have abandoned that disruptive style.
At least the numbers would suggest as much. Marshall (2-4, 1-1 Conference USA) is last in the league with just four sacks through six games, and is ahead of only Southern Miss — Saturday’s 7 p.m. opponent — in turnover margin at minus-7. The Herd has gained just five turnovers.
As the second half of the season begins Saturday in Hattiesburg, Miss., coach Doc Holliday says improvement in that area is a must.
“It is always emphasized,” he said. “The thing we have to do a better job of is taking care of the ball and creating turnovers.
“Those are two areas we need to improve on as a football team. We won the game against Southern Miss last season because of turnovers, and because our kicking game and punt team forced them, I think, five times to go 95 yards-plus to score.”
Holliday again emphasized the need to cut down on turnovers. Quarterback Rakeem Cato has had a big year, but his six interceptions are a big reason why the Herd is below .500.
“Take care of the ball and keep doing what you are doing,” Holliday said. “I think we’re second in the country in third-down conversions (56.6 percent). We’re doing some really good things on offense, but take care of the ball. Just do that and we’re fine.
“Defensively, create more turnovers and tackle. It’s a really simple game. Get lined up, tackle and create turnovers. And, offensively, take care of the ball. If we can just do those things, we’re going to be fine as a football team.”
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