John A. Gillis / Gannett Tennessee
MTSU safety Chris Brown blocks a punt by Marshall punter Tyler Williams in the first quarter Thursday night in Murfreesboro. Brown recovered the ball and scored a touchdown.


MURFREESBORO, TN—Marshall lost in two of the three phases of the game Thursday night against Middle Tennessee.  The defense gave up 585 yards of total offense to a team that came into the week ranked 104th in the country in offense.  However, even as bad as the defense played, The Herd was still just one play away from victory.

The game may have never come down to the final play if Marshall did not commit more special team blunders that directly led to points.

Special team flubs are the common thread that ties all three of Marshall’s losses together.  Major miscues on special teams directly led to 21 points in losses to Ohio, Virginia Tech and Middle Tennessee.  The Herd lost those three games by a combined 13 points.

You do the math.

What is alarming, Marshall is still making the same mistakes.

Against Ohio, Steward Butler bumbled a kickoff that rolled into the endzone and the Bobcats recovered for a cheap score.  Virginia Tech blew through the Marshall protection and blocked a Tyler Williams punt that was recovered in for a touchdown.

Thursday night, it was virtual replay from Lane Stadium when the Blue Raiders’ Chris Brown was nearly untouched blocked another Tyler Williams punt.  Brown finished off the spectacular play by recovering the block and notching a special teams touchdown.

“On the punt team, that should never happen,” Coach Doc Holliday said. “They guys have to do their jobs and we have to do a better job of coaching them, evidently.”

Three games, three teams and three scores without the opposition’s offense ever taking the field.

Marshall’s defense bailed out an earlier special teams error in the first quarter.

Devon Smith muffed on his own 32-yard line that was recovered by Reggie Whatley.  It looked as if the Blue Raiders were poised to capitalize on the turnover until Darryl Roberts picked off Logan Kilgore in the endzone to end the scoring threat.

Later, in the third quarter Marshall set up for a punt after being stopped on 3rd and 5.  Tyler Williams field a low snap and as he kicked the ball officials blew their whistles and stopped the play.  Williams field the punt on one knee.  As soon as he caught the snap with his knee on the ground he was, by rule, down.

MTSU got the ball back on Marshall’s 47-yard line. The Blue Raiders got as close as the one-yard line but a personal foul penalty forced MTSU to kick a field goal.

It’s hard to say that a single play over the course of a game was the difference between a win and a loss.  However, there’s no doubt that inept special teams have been major factors in The Herd’s three losses.

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  • Pride

    Doc is a good coach and recruiter. Give him time. 8-4 this year is an improvement.

    • Larry

      Marshall will not win 8 games, they have at least 2 more guaranteed losses, probably more.

  • ron51

    dear jr toten your in a poor conference and never go anywhere if you go 12 and 0 what a joke

    • Jr Totten

      You are correct ron. I am actually a WVU fan. I just think Marshall can compete in CUSA now that the bigger programs left for the old big east.

  • Brett

    I played sports for years and always felt like we played according to our level of competition. I know that isn't the way it is supposed to be, but when we played good teams we brought our A game and when we played teams we were supposed to beat we didn't do as well even if we beat them. Marshall has played lackluster again Middle Tennesse, Ohio, and FAU, while putting up an excellent fight against Virginia Tech.

    • Greg

      Don't overstate the Fighting Gobblers. Outside of putting up a decent fight against Bama their schedule is not that much better than Moo's. Watch for the mighty Dukies to take them down today.

      • Larry

        Good call on Duke beating VaTech.

  • JR Toten

    Bad Loss. But at least we are in the right conference now. We can compete in this conference now that the realignment has happened. We still should have won this game , we are the better team.

  • Big Larry

    Maybe Joe DeForest can stop by and give them a few pointers...

    • Hailey

      I agree, WVU's kicking game is one of best in the country

    • Interesting123

      By the looks of the defense up there last year and now special teams that will probably be the first time he has given pointers to anyone...

  • Jason

    3 parts of a football game...the O, the D, and the special teams...The O can score on anybody in the country...the D is average or slightly above average for CUSA...which is better than MU has had the past couple of years, so I will take it...the kicking game needs is a long season...they can still win CUSA...just need to the kicking game squared away...back to back road games is always tough to keep mentally focused as well...just need to square away the kicking game. All this is obvious...I brought nothing to the table...but it feels good saying it.

  • cutty77

    I don't know if its time issues,but it seems that almost everybody speical Teams are bad nowadays.

  • Brett

    The special teams need to get back to playing fundamental football. There is a definitely a link in the lost games and the special teams miscues. They are momentum changers.