Offensive Performance Wasted

Case Keenum and the Cougar offense stole the show Saturday evening in Houston. Keenum broke Timmy Chang’s record becoming the NCAA career total offense leader with 17,173 yards and the Houston offense was simply unstoppable, basically scoring at will. Lost in the blur of red and white streaking down the field was a very balanced and improved performance by Herd quarterback A.J. Graham.
Making the second start of his career, Graham had a solid day completing 27-of-35 for 257 yards and two touchdowns. Graham also rushed for 74 yard on 12 carries. On most days that type of performance would likely be good enough to put The Herd in a position to win the game. It just so happened, it came against the offensive juggernaut that is the Houston Cougars.
“We knew we were going to have to put up a lot of points going into that game with the way their offense puts up numbers,” said Graham. 
Marshall’s offense had its best game of the season, statistically speaking. The Herd rushed for 197 yards and threw for 309 yards for 506 yards of total offense. Prior to that Marshall’s best offensive game was 378 total yards in its 26-20 win over Southern Miss. Marshall’s gameplan coming into the game was clear. Run the ball, work the clock and keep Case Keenum on the sidelines. Marshall did that holding on the ball for 42:15.
“Anytime you can do those things, milking the clock and keeping the ball out of Case Keenum’s hands and scoring as much as possible, you have a chance,” said Graham.
Marshall just was not counting on Houston being able to score on nearly every single play. Houston’s longest scoring drive was seven plays. It felt that each time the Cougars touched the ball they were just a step away from taking it to the house. A game like that doesn’t do much to help a defense that was gaining confidence and that had carried the team through the seven games and was the reason Marshall had won three of them. 
“They [the defense] have been carrying us all season,” Graham said. “They’re going to bounce back this week with another big game coming up before the bye week.”
UAB could be a good bounce back game for a Thundering Herd team that needs the confidence builder of putting a complete game together. The Blazers have won just one game on the season. However, that win came last week against a UCF team that had its way with The Herd in Orlando. 
The good news for Marshall, the schedule matches up favorably down the stretch. The combined record of the four remaining opponents on the schedule is 10-19 and Tulsa is the only team with a winning record at 4-3. 
“As long as we go out and take each practice day by and each game play by play we’ll be fine,” according to Graham.
Follow Dave on Twitter @wvmetro_dwilson. E-mail comments to

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