HUNTINGTON, W.Va.– The Thundering Herd has started slowly the last two games. It found itself trailing Southern Miss 14-0 before it kicked it into gear. The defense started particularly slow.
Southern Miss came into the game averaging a woeful 90 yards rushing per game, but seemed resolved to punch Marshall in the mouth and run it down the middle of the field. And it did, for a while. Coach Doc Holliday said the Herd was able to make some adjustments and slowdown the Golden Eagles.
“It’s easier said than done because you’ve got to get that information relayed to your players and they’ve got to be able to execute it,” said Holliday. “We work on those adjustments during the week so when they happen they understand what they have to get done.”
Holliday knows his team can’t get behind against Rice like it did at Southern Miss then go on a 63-3 run.
“Against Rice you’d better start fast and finish fast because they’re going to play extremely hard,” pointed out Holiday.
Rice has been particularly good in the second half this season. Rice has outscored the opposition 100-34 in the second half and has allowed just one touchdown in its last seven second half quarters.
The Owls were able to jump out on Marshall last season, stunning the Herd with a 75-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Taylor and building a 14-0 lead Marshall never overcame. One that day Rice was undoubtedly the better team on the field.
“We know what happened last year when we went to Rice and everybody is just focused and motivated on what we need to do to be the better team this game,” insisted defensive lineman James Rouse.
For Marshall to have success, it must find a way to slow down defensive ends Zach Pratt and Briand Nordstrom. The pair has combined for 15 sacks this season, the second best combined total in school history. Rice has 32 sacks as a team, one shy of the single-season school record.
“Those ends are relentless, it’s an all-out war,” insisted Van Horn.
The Owls recorded a season-high seven sacks against FIU and Pratt was credited with five of those.
“That have good players,” noted Doc Holliday. “There is a reason they won six straight because they are well coached and they have players that play extremely hard. They will come in here and play extremely hard against us.”
Kickoff is set for 2:30.