The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

December 4, 2013

Running games move to the front

Rice, Marshall are top 2 in Conference USA

One team has the league’s top rushing attack. The other has the No. 1 overall offense, thanks in part to a ground game that is much improved from last year.

Good thing Rice Stadium has FieldTurf. Natural grass on the first weekend of December might not hold up under this kind of wear and tear.

Sans its lapse at Middle Tennessee State in October, Marshall’s defense has also been much improved. But the Thundering Herd will face another challenge from Rice and its vaunted offense at noon Saturday in the Conference USA championship at noon. The game will be aired on ESPN2.

Rice leads C-USA in rushing, averaging 240.3 yards per game. As would be expected, the Owls also have the top rusher in the conference. That would be Charles Ross, who checks in at 114.3 yards and has scored 12 touchdowns, also a league best.

But senior quarterback Taylor McHargue is also a threat in the run game. He has 437 yards on the ground.

"He's a big guy that is extremely physical,” Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. “If we can't stop the run then we have no chance. It’s going to come down to that again.

“Ross and McHargue both have the ability to run the ball. That’s the reason they are leading the conference in rushing is because of the people they have up front and those guys with the ball in their hands are good.”

McHargue can also throw the ball, so defenses have to stay honest. He has completed 153 of 193 passes for 2,070 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also has been picked off eight times.

Last year, Marshall beat the Owls 54-51 in double overtime despite a career day from McHargue, who ran for 153 yards and a touchdown, while also throwing for 314 yards and three scores.

“If you go back to last year, (McHargue) ran through us and around us,” Holliday said. “Of course, we are a different defense than we were a year ago. We couldn't stop anybody a year ago.

“We have great respect for him because he is a very talented individual. When you talk about Rice's offense it starts with McHargue. He makes them go and does a great job at doing it.”

The Herd, meanwhile, is second in the league in rushing at 219.9. Holliday and his staff have made a concentrated effort to be a more balanced offense.

“We’ve been able to do that this year. We're a much better offense than we were a year ago because we’ve been more balanced and been able to run the ball as much as we throw it,” Holliday said. “Hopefully, we can get that done again on Saturday because whenever we've been able to run the football, there’s no doubt that we are a better football team overall.”

— E-mail: gfauber

and follow on Twitter @GaryFauber

Text Only
College Sports
  • Trickett takes uncertainty away from WVU quarterback position

    Since the day Geno Smith was selected with the 39th pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, West Virginia’s football team has found itself in a rare position — searching for a starting quarterback.

    July 28, 2014

  • Fred Wyant talks about ‘Pappy’ Lewis and other items of interest

    I saved some other interesting observations from the recent interview with Fred Wyant which you may find worth reading.

    July 27, 2014

  • Herd featured prominently in website’s preseason honors

    Marshall received several nods in the preseason All-Conference USA awards released Saturday.

    July 27, 2014

  • Miners stop Lorain County 5-1

    The West Virginia Miners received a strong outing from starting pitcher Patrick LaGanke, and scored one run in each of the final five innings to defeat the Lorain County Ironmen 5-1 Thursday.

    July 25, 2014

  • Some topics of interest to area fans

    Tom Hart, a widely known retired Morgantown High School administrator and coach, continues to excel as one of the nation’s top bowlers

    July 25, 2014

  • 072514 WVU Replacing Sims a challenge for WVU

    Every year, almost every college football preview publication available lists one key statistic that most use to evaluate the prospects for any given football team — returning starters.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • WVU’s Worley clear starter at cornerback

    There were few bright spots in West Virginia University’s 4-8 football campaign last year, and even fewer on the defensive side of the football, where the Mountaineers gave up more than 455 yards and 33 points per game.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen to appear on ESPN special

    West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen will appear Wednesday on ESPN’s annual mid-summer college football coaches’ “car wash” — in which guests appear across multiple programs and platforms over one day.

    July 23, 2014

  • Holgorsen: WVU getting comfortable in new league

    Dana Holgorsen remembers the glory days of West Virginia University football — the ones that included conference championships and BCS bowl wins. In fact, he was part of one of those, leading the Mountaineers to a Big East championship and an Orange Bowl victory in his first season as head coach in 2011.

    July 23, 2014

  • 072314 miners Miners take series with Paints

    The way the West Virginia Miners see it, they don’t have the luxury of planning for tomorrow.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Saints Training Camp