The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

October 6, 2012

Thundering Herd defense still trying to keep pace

Offensively, Marshall is certainly keeping up with the times.

The defense is, too — just not in a good way.

The offensive fireworks that have taken over college football should be on display in Huntington today when Marshall hosts Tulsa. The 3:30 p.m. game can be seen live on CBS Sports Network.

Marshall (2-3, 1-0 Conference USA) has the league’s top-ranked offense, averaging 555.6 yards per game. Tulsa (4-1, 2-0) is third at 481.4.

The Herd is averaging 92.4 plays, making it among the faster paced offenses in the nation.

“It’s almost coming down to who has the ball last,” Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. “In our case it happened to be one or two turnovers (in losses against Ohio and Purdue). It could be two defensive stops. I believe that you have to play great defense to win championships. We are working extremely hard to get there.”

Like a lot of defenses today, Marshall is having trouble keeping pace. The Herd is allowing a conference-worst 44.4 points per game and is next to last in total defense at 495.8 yards per game.

Tulsa, meanwhile, leads the league in rushing defense (104.6) and total defense (338.0).

“Defensively, the key is getting your tails lined up in the right place and playing,” Holliday said. “I’ve said all along if you are thinking on defense and not playing, then you’re not going to be any good. You have to get lined up and play hard. I think that is what our kids did in the second half of the Purdue game was stop thinking and play the game. That has to carry over into this game this week.”

The defense has a tough assignment in trying to stop the Golden Hurricane.

Quarterback Cody Green is a Nebraska transfer who started for the Cornhuskers as a true freshman. He has completed 85 of 166 passes for 1,041 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions.

Trey Watts is the Hurricane’s top runner, averaging 72.6 yards. He has scored twice.

Tulsa has one of the best pass rushes in the nation, topping college football in tackles for loss (10.6) and sacks (5.2).

— E-mail: gfauber@register-herald.com

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