The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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November 14, 2012

Injuries plague Marshall seniors

Eight seniors will be honored prior to kickoff of Marshall’s home finale at noon Saturday against Houston.

Whether they will actually play is the question.

It will be the final game at Joan C. Edwards Stadium for wide receivers Aaron Dobson, Antavious Wilson and Andre Snipes-Booker, linebacker Devin Arrington, offensive lineman John Bruhin, running back Martin Ward and safeties Dominick LeGrande and Okechukwu Okoroha. But Dobson, Snipes-Booker and Arrington all are injured and may not be able to play.

That may somewhat skew their memories down the road, but the disappointment would be softened a little if Marshall is able to win its last two games and get that magical sixth win.

For the second year in a row, the Thundering Herd is 4-6 (3-3 Conference USA) and faces a must-win scenario in order to even be considered for a lower-tier bowl game.

“I think our kids understand what is at stake,” third-year Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. “They have to go play extremely well. It is the same scenario we had at Memphis a year ago, too. We found a way to go win last year and that is what this team has to go do.”

Marshall, with fingers crossed and prayers numerous that quarterback Rakeem Cato would not get hurt, escaped two-win Memphis last November with a 23-22 win. An overtime win over East Carolina in the season finale made the Herd bowl-eligible.

The road will be slightly more difficult this time around.

Houston (4-6, 3-3 C-USA), while down, will present more of a challenge than did Memphis last season.

David Piland is no Case Keenum, the Cougars’ former NCAA record-setting quarterback, but he is capable of leading Houston up and down the James F. Edwards Field turf.

Piland has completed 57 percent (255 of 447) of his passes for 2,942 yards and 16 touchdowns, although he has thrown 12 interceptions.

“He’s a quarterback that likes to throw on a rhythm,” Holliday said. “He’s really accurate with the quick-outs, bubble screens and those things that they do when he can stay in a rhythm. People that have put pressure on him have created issues for them. It’s going to be important that we try to get that done. We have to try to get him out of that rhythm and force him to hang on to the ball a little bit.”

Then, should the Herd be fortunate enough to beat the Cougars, they face a road game against ECU the day after Thanksgiving. The Pirates will be looking for revenge after last year’s 34-27 overtime loss that kept them home for the holidays.

“It’s going to be important that we go out this week and we get better as a football team,” Holliday said. “We’re glad to be back home. We’re going to run our eight seniors out there on Saturday. We’re looking forward to coming out and playing hard for those eight guys.”

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