The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

October 24, 2012

Thundering Herd must beat UCF in the trenches

Central Florida has the top-ranked defense in Conference USA.

What a shock.

The Knights are always at or near the top of the league in most defensive categories. Tulsa was in that position earlier in the season, but UCF has risen once again.

“They’re very physical and play extremely hard,” Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to balance things out, but they’re an excellent defense.”

The Knights are first in the league in total defense (352.9 yards per game), pass defense (200.9) and scoring defense (22.0 points per game). Of course, Marshall is first offensively in those categories — total offense (568.4), passing (390.0) and scoring (43.1).

The rivals will meet for the final time Saturday in Huntington. The 8 p.m. game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

Including UCF, which the Thundering Herd has not beaten since joining C-USA in 2005, three of Marshall’s next four opponents will be leaving for the Big East in July.

In order to end seven seasons of frustration, the Herd (3-4, 2-1 C-USA) will have to win the battle on the ground.

Which leads to another interesting statistic: While UCF’s run defense is fourth in the league, allowing 152.0 yards per game, Marshall’s run game is also fourth, gaining 178.4.

“That’s where we wanted to be,” Holliday said. “When you can throw it and run it both, it helps. I think the offensive coaches have done a great job at taking what the defense is giving them. We have to continue doing that.”

Marshall has ridden the three-headed monster of redshirt freshmen Kevin Grooms, Steward Butler and Remi Watson in a rushing attack that has slowly but surely progressed. All three scored touchdowns in last Saturday’s 59-24 win at Southern Miss.

Grooms scored on runs of 64 and 11 yards en route to a career-high 119 yards. The Herd ran for 275 yards in the game.

Grooms, Butler and Watson have combined for 1,076 yards and 14 touchdowns. Marshall had 16 rushing TDs total over the last two seasons.

“Number one, they’re all talented,” Holliday said. “I knew they were all talented. You just never know, as a coach, how freshmen are going to react.

“Similar to (quarterback Rakeem) Cato, the arenas don’t seem to affect those three guys. They love to play. You put them in any arena and they are going to compete. They love to compete and love football. Right now it’s a great situation to have and it has to get better.”

UCF (5-2, 3-0), meanwhile, is sixth in the league at 169.3 rushing yards. Storm Johnson, who once started at Miami, has run for 416 yards and four touchdowns.

Latavius Murray made his second start of the season in last Saturday’s 35-17 win at Memphis and went for 192 yards and two scores.

“We have to stop the run,” Holliday said. “If you stop the run then you have a chance to win any game you’re in. I thought our defense played extremely well in that Southern Miss game. They stopped the run and were creating turnovers.

“This week is going to be no different. There’s no secret to what UCF is going to do when they come in here.”

— E-mail: gfauber@register-herald.com

1
Text Only
College Sports
  • 041714 millard Kickoff time set for WVU-Alabama

    West Virginia football fans can now start counting down to the exact minute, instead of just the day.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Questions raised about Turnbull’s firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.

    April 17, 2014

  • 041714 wright Former Red Devil star realizing dream of playing D-I basketball

    When former Oak Hill High School standout Kalif Wright was a kid, he would play EA Sports’ NCAA March Madness video games and dream of one day getting a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mountaineers beat Buckeyes 4-1 in lefty Vance’s first career start

    In his first career start for the WVU baseball team, sophomore left-hander Ross Vance struck out 14 en route to a 4-1 victory over Ohio State on Tuesday evening at Hawley Field.

    April 15, 2014

  • Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage last Saturday.

    April 15, 2014

  • Wesleyan edges CU twice in softball

    The Concord University softball narrowly dropped a pair of games to No. 17 West Virginia Wesleyan, 2-1 and 4-3, Sunday afternoon at Culpepper Field.

    April 14, 2014

  • Concord baseball shuts out Cardinals

    The Concord University baseball team posted two shutout victories on Sunday, extending its winning streak to seven games by beating conference foe Wheeling Jesuit.

    April 14, 2014

  • dana Much still to be answered this fall

    In Saturday’s paper, I compiled a list of five things to watch at West Virginia University’s annual Gold-Blue Spring Game. Now, after watching the football scrimmage that concluded this year’s spring drills and taking some time to process what I saw, it’s time to go back and revisit those five points and how they turned out on Saturday.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • D’Antoni speculation now seems to have legs

    Kareem Canty got what he wanted, and Marshall fans should find out this week if they will get what they want.

    April 13, 2014

  • millard Specials teams shine at Gold-Blue Game

    The scoreboard said the Gold (offense) beat the Blue (defense) 37-27 in Saturday’s Gold-Blue Spring Game at Milan Puskar Stadium using a modified scoring system that rewarded the defense for stops and turnovers and the offense for scores.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo