TAMPA, Fla. — Teams are always looking to peak at the right time during a season.

The Marshall football team did just that as Thundering Herd coach Doc Holliday called his team’s performance Thursday night in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl the best overall game the team has played all year.

That has become tradition at Marshall, as Holliday discussed the program’s seventh straight bowl win, a 38-20 thrashing of South Florida, on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

“Our freshman quarterback who went through some growing pains this year is really starting to grow up and execute,” he said. “You win with playing great defense, that is where it all starts. The staff has done a great job with those guys and they played extremely well. Then, of course, the special team game was huge for us. We pinned them down inside the five on punts, had some big kick returns and punt returns that turned the game around.

“Overall it was a great performance. I am just so proud of the way our kids prepare and went to work every day. Getting these results, I am so proud of them.”

Holliday improved his bowl record to 6-0 as Marshall’s coach, and the Herd (9-4) amassed 500-plus yards against the Bulls (7-6) on their home field, Raymond James Stadium.

“Our kids buy in,” he said. “They get upset with me sometimes because we do work. It’s like a spring practice to us before the bowl game. We get after them, we are physical with them, we are tough.

“At the end of the day, as I said in the locker room after the game, that is why we do what we do. This is why we win the games. It is because the way you prepare and I really do appreciate them. They bought it for six straight times and found a way to win.”

One of the keys to Marshall’s dominance of South Florida was the fast start and the tone up set up front. The Herd ran for 282 yards and five touchdowns, two from Keion Davis, and one each from Isaiah Green, Brenden Knox, and Anthony Anderson.

Davis was named MVP of the bowl game, running behind offensive linemen of Tarik Adams, Levi Brown, Jordan Dowrey, Cain Madden, Alex Locklear, and Will Ulmer.

“I thought our offensive line, Greg Adkins has done a great job with those guys all season long, played their best game as well,” Holliday said. “That great thing is, all those guys are back.

“You always want to start fast. If you can start fast in any game you play, it is helpful. We got out there and that was one of our goals, in what was a physical game to begin with, was to start fast. We did that which was critical.”

The Herd will say goodbye to a talented group of seniors, including standout wide receiver Tyre Brady. The Senior Bowl invitee, who surpassed 1,000 receiving yards on the year Thursday night, elected to play in the bowl game and said there was no doubt about it.

“He appreciated what Marshall University had done for him,” Holliday said. “Being the first guy in his family to walk out with a college degree, he felt like he owed it to Marshall to go play that game. That says a lot about him.

Marshall’s streak of seven straight bowl game wins is the longest active streak in FBS. With a program minimum of 10 games, the Herd has the best record in bowl games in FBS history at 12-2.

“I talked to our kids from the day we accepted that bowl game and said you’ll remember the bowls you win. You can create a memory of a lifetime with a win here. There is not a greater feeling in the world than in that locker room after a bowl win.”

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