By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
When Marshall’s players walk into Legion Field today for their game against UAB, they might be reminded of what coach Doc Holliday says was a similar situation earlier this season.
“Comparing it to Rice is a great example,” Holliday said. The Owls play at Rice Stadium, which seats 47,000 but potentially could expand to accommodate 70,000. But the Owls don’t average anywhere near even the former number, making it feel as if the game is being played in an empty stadium.
Attendance for Marshall’s 54-51 double-overtime win over Rice on Sept. 22 was 14,204.
The same is true for Legion Field, which has a seating capacity of 72,000. The Blazers (2-7, 1-4 Conference USA) haven’t had 72,000 fans combined attendance at their four home games to date.
So the Herd could be in for an intensity-draining quiet day today in Birmingham, Ala. Kickoff is 4:30 p.m. (EDT) and the game can be seen on WVAH-TV.
The Herd (4-5, 3-2) last played at Legion Field in 2010, winning 31-17.
“A lot of our players were there two years ago,” Holliday said. “We walked in there two years ago and found a way to win that game. The circumstances were very similar. A lot of our kids have been there, but for the ones that haven’t, this will remind them of the trip to Rice and it will be very similar. So we will have to prepare the same way.”
Under first-year coach Garrick McGee, UAB’s season is already finished. There is, however, pride, but Holliday is not worried about that being a factor.
“We have to worry about ourselves,” he said. “We have a lot to play for. There is a lot left out there on the table for us. I mentioned last week that we had four shots and now we’re down to three shots. Good things can happen for this football team, but you have to take them one at a time. Shot No. 1, we took care of Memphis and did what we had to do.”
After today, Marshall will return home to face Houston at noon Saturday, Nov. 17. The regular season will end the day after Thanksgiving at East Carolina.
Marshall punter Tyler Williams was announced as one of 10 semifinalists for the 2012 Ray Guy Award, announced Friday by the Augusta Sports Council. The Springfield, Ore., native and Fort Wayne, Ind., resident was the only freshman to make the list.
Williams leads C-USA and is eighth nationally with a 45.81-yard average. Of his 32 punts, 12 have been placed inside the 20-yard line, six have been fair-caught and 10 have been of the 50-yards-plus variety. On the season, the Herd is fourth nationally in net punting with a 45.67-yard mark.
The 6-foot, 195-pound Williams was named C-USA Special Teams Player of the Week following his Sept. 22 performance at Rice, where he averaged 50.8 yards (including a 66-yarder) on his five kicks, dropping three inside the 20.
If he maintains his current average, Williams will set the single-season school record, surpassing that of Travis Colquitt, who averaged 45.1 yards on 37 kicks in 1994.
The candidates were evaluated on their overall statistics and contribution to the team. Particular emphasis was placed on the punter’s net average, percentage of total punts inside the 20-yard line and percentage of punts not returned. A national voting body of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) coaches, sports information directors, national media and former Ray Guy Award winners will decide the three award finalists, who will be announced Monday, Nov. 19. Voters will then cast a second round of ballots to decide the winner.
The presentation of the Ray Guy Award will be featured on The Home Depot College Football Awards live on Thursday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org