Two big things can happen today at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
First, Marshall can become bowl-eligible and move one step closer to winning a division championship. Second, the Thundering Herd can exact some revenge.
It was 364 days ago that Marshall went into Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., and lost 38-31 to UAB. That game forced the Herd to win out for bowl eligibility, something it could not convert after a 64-58 double-overtime loss at East Carolina in the last game of the regular season.
The Herd (5-3, 3-1 Conference USA) can erase all that with a win over the Blazers at noon today in Huntington.
Marshall coach Doc Holliday wants to be sure his players remember the feeling they had after dropping that game. The emotional factor is important, but he wants them to remember how they felt physically.
“You have to respect that team coming in here. They physically beat us last year,” said Holliday, who planned on making sure they understand it during practice Tuesday. “Hopefully that is motivation for our guys to make sure that we have a great practice today, because today is going to be a physical practice and our most physical of the week. I’m hoping when our kids run on the field for practice today that they remember how physically beaten they were by this team last year. Hopefully that happens.”
Marshall trailed the Blazers 24-7 at halftime before orchestrating a second-half comeback. Still, the Blazers had 232 of their 406 total yards after the break.
“They were especially physical in that second half,” Holliday said. “We had an opportunity to get them stopped, and we didn’t do it. Our kids have to respect this football team because what they did to us a year ago and because they have the ability to come in here and beat us if we do not take care of business in our preparation.”
The Blazers (2-6, 1-3) like to run the ball, but a start like the Herd had last week against Southern Miss would help in getting UAB out of its game plan. Marshall scored 28 points in the first quarter on its way to beating the Golden Eagles 61-13.
Likewise, UTSA jumped to a 24-0 lead against the Blazers two weeks ago in winning 52-31.
“I think it is critical in any game to start fast, and this will be no different,” Holliday said. “Hopefully we can get out of the gates here like we did a week ago.”
Stopping the run was a problem in Marshall’s 51-49 loss at Middle Tennessee State on Oct. 24. Marshall gave up a season-worst 308 yards on the ground in that game.
That, plus the chance to avenge last season’s loss, should serve as motivation for the Herd.
“If they weren’t disappointed with the way they played at MT, then we have problems,” Holliday said. “They played a lot better this past week, but it’s going to be even more critical and a bigger challenge this week. We told them on Sunday to go put their big boy pants on, because it is going to be a physical, get-after-them type of game. If that offensive line is able to physically get after our defensive line, then it’s going to be a long afternoon. They’d better be ready and had better come out and play like they did against Southern Miss.”
A win today would make the Herd bowl-eligible this early for the first time since it was 6-3 in 2003, although it did not play in a bowl game that year.
“There’s no doubt that becoming bowl-eligible was one of our goals, but it’s just one of them,” Holliday said. “The ultimate goal is to go win a championship. The only way to get to that goal is to go get this next one, which will be number six. We have to focus on ourselves this week and becoming a better football team. We have to go out and play like crazy on Saturday and see what happens. There is no doubt that is important.”
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Two big things can happen today at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
- College Sports
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘Huey the Punter’ makes transition to LB
The first reaction of the 10,000 fans in attendance at Milan Puskar Stadium for Saturday’s Gold-Blue Spring Game when No. 42 shot through the offensive line and put junior college transfer quarterback Skyler Howard on the ground in the second half was to ooh and aah.
Crutchfield again named Furfari Award winner
Already the winningest men’s basketball coach in college history in terms of percentage — yes, better than guys like John Wooden, Adolph Rupp and Roy Williams — West Liberty’s Jim Crutchfield is heading into some lofty territory within the confines of his home state.
Five things to watch at WVU spring game
Spring practice will come to an end for West Virginia University this afternoon when the Mountaineer football team hosts the annual Gold-Blue Spring Game at 1 p.m. at Milan Puskar Stadium.
- More College Sports Headlines
- Mountaineers beat Buckeyes 4-1 in lefty Vance’s first career start