HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — After Marshall’s surprising home loss to FIU, the Herd have no time to dwell as they travel Friday to take on the FAU Owls.
The Owls are currently sitting atop the C-USA East Division after a 42-28 victory over Western Kentucky. Marshall sits one spot behind them, giving this game a little more meaning for conference championship aspirations.
“There is no question,” coach Doc Holliday said. “Anytime you are into conference play, every game you play is a championship game. Everything we want — all the goals, standards, and expectations we have here — are still out there for us. We just have to go win and be the best team on the field.”
FAU has won four games in a row, and the Owls have not scored less than 38 points in a victory this season. Friday’s matchup will be the third game of the 2017 season that the Herd enters as an underdog.
“We don’t look at that kind of thing,” said defensive lineman Blake Keller. “We are just going to go out there and play, whether we are 100-point underdogs or favorites, we are going to prepare the same way.
Special team’s ace D’Andre “Chocolate” Wilson said a short week following a loss will be a good after the FIU loss.
“We should have a quick turnaround,” Wilson said. “The bad taste in our mouth is over with. We know we made errors and lost the game. We just have to leave that behind and focus on the next game.”
Strength vs. strength
Marshall will have to be prepared for a high-powered FAU offense that has taken off after the first quarter of the season.
FAU running back Devin Singletary already has 1,053 rushing yards (ninth in nation) and 18 touchdowns (first in nation). The Owl’s second running back—Gregory Howell Jr., has 526 yards in his complimentary role—eight more than Marshall’s leading rusher Keion Davis.
FAU’s eighth-ranked rushing offense, which averages 295 yards per game, will be going head to head with a Marshall defense ranked 24th in the nation overall and 23rd against the run.
“They have a great offensive line, one of the best we have played to date,” said Blake Keller. “Their running backs are really great athletes. Singletary is a great player. We definitely have to focus on stopping the run game.”
Marshall will have to bounce back quickly after giving up 224 rushing yards, the most they have allowed to an opponent all season, to FIU last week
Linebacker Artis Johnson said the two losses this year have been more self-imposed than anything, and that when Marshall plays a clean game a victory usually follows.
“We beat ourselves as far as not going out and executing,” Johnson said. “We just have to go out there and be more focused on executing.”
Marshall finds themselves back in the spotlight this week on CBSS after showcasing their program two weeks ago in a 38-10 victory over Middle Tennessee on ESPN2.
“It is a huge game, it’s a big conference matchup on national TV,” said receiver Obi Obialo. “Everyone is going to be tuned in, we are playing against a really good team, and we are just ready to get started.”
Fellow receiver Marcel Williams said the team knows exactly what to expect from a short week considering they just did two weeks ago.
“We did it for Middle Tennessee, we turned up the intensity in practice to make sure we were prepared, we have to take everything into account for this next game,” Williams said. “It is always exciting to play, but having a game on Friday when the nation is watching, it is a little more exciting.”
High-profile games have treated the Herd well this year, their record this season when appearing on ESPN is 3-1, with the one loss coming against N.C. State.
Notes from the Herd
Chase Hancock set a career high in tackles against FIU with 17. … Receivers Marcel Williams and Obi Obialo both set career highs in receptions and receiving yards. … Quarterback Chase Litton, who was just 13 pass attempts away from surpassing Chad Pennington’s record of 177 consecutive passes without an interception, had his snap streaked with his two turnovers to FIU. … Offensive lineman Nate Devers, arrested after the loss to FIU on battery charges against a police officer, has been suspended indefinitely.
— By Troy Alexander