By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
George Carpenter isn’t known as the most athletic player on Marshall’s football team. The defense has quite a few players who are just like Carpenter — hard workers who have bought into second-year head coach Doc Holliday’s philosophy.
But Carpenter played easily the best game of his Marshall career Saturday against Southern Miss. And he was rewarded by Conference USA, which named him co-defensive player of the week.
Punter Kase Whitehead was also honored, as special teams player of the week.
Carpenter shared the defensive award with SMU linebacker Ja’Gerad Davis.
Carpenter, the son of former NFL player Rob Carpenter and brother of current Detriot Lions Bobby Carpenter, led Marshall with a game-high 13 tackles. Two of them went for a loss, including one of five Herd sacks. He also recovered two fumbles, one of which he forced.
His tackles were just three fewer than he had all of last season.
Carpenter also was honored by CollegeSportsMadness.com. Defensive end Vinny Curry, meanwhile, was named National Defensive Lineman of the Week by CollegeFootballPerformance.com.
A 5-foot-11, 224-pound senior linebacker, Carpenter made his second start and was part of a Thundering Herd defense that smothered Golden Eagles quarterback Austin Davis in the second half, helping lead the way to a 26-20 win in both team’s league opener.
“That defense is rock solid,” Holliday said. “We’ve got some solid guys, George Carpenter and Tyson Gale and some unsung heroes in there that kind of hold that defense together.”
Holliday complimented not only Carpenter, but Gale, a fellow linebacker who had nine tackles against the Golden Eagles.
“They’ve got big ol’ hearts, and I’ll take that over anything else,” Holliday said. “Give me a guy that’s got a big ol’ heart, I’ll take a little less athletic ability. We’ve got a bunch of big ol’ hearts on that field right now and I’m proud of them.”
Whitehead, meanwhile, averaged 42.5 yards on eight punts. Five of those were downed inside the Southern Miss 7-yard line. One punt was downed at the 1, and Curry tackled Kendrick Hardy in the end zone for a safety and 26-17 lead in the fourth quarter.
“I’m not sure I can remember, as long as I have coached, any better,” Holliday said of Whitehead’s performance. “Maybe there is out there, if I go back. ... It was simply amazing. The kid did a great job.”
Whitehead, a senior from Maryville, Tenn., is averaging 43.4 yards on 13 punts through his first two games.
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