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Huff believes line play and depth made the difference in Marshall’s win at Notre Dame

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A cell phone filled with messages of congratulations awaited Marshall head coach Charles Huff as he boarded the bus following Marshall’s 26-21 win at Notre Dame Saturday afternoon.

“After the game I had about 350 text messages and social media messages. Obviously, it was a very monumental moment for this university and our players. A lot of people around the country recognized how our players played and how we represented this university,” Huff said on MetroNews Talkline.

Marshall rushed for 219 yards against the Fighting Irish and they averaged 4.4 yards per tote. Huff says depth on both the offensive and defensive lines proved critical.

“Coach [Nick] Saban has taught me that the game is won up front. You’ve got to have depth. So when we went out this offseason, we started bringing in some transfers and high school guys, we wanted to make sure we were built from the front back and made sure we had depth. We wanted to be able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

“I was a little concerned going into the game and as the game was going on that the depth of Notre Dame would kind of wear on us a little bit. But we were able to play a bunch of guys and keep guys fresh until the end.”

Khalan Laborn has assumed the starting spot at running back for the Herd while Rasheen Ali is away from the team for personal reasons. Laborn is a sixth-year transfer from Florida State and he rushed for 163 yards and a touchdown on Saturday.

“Last year, Ali had a phenomenal year. He’ll be back soon, sooner than later. He had a phenomenal year but we really didn’t have that production behind him. We wanted to go out and in the event that something happened, or to take some of the work off him, we wanted to go out and create a little depth at the running back position. I can’t say that I was hoping that Laborn would be the only running back that played against Notre Dame. But he stepped up to the challenge.”

Marshall [85 votes] was the first team left out of the AP Top 25 poll this week. The Thundering Herd rolled over Norfolk State, 55-3 in their season opener.

“We knew back in August that we were in control of our own destiny. How we prepare every week, how hard we play and how consistent we execute, we felt like we had a chance to be successful. We didn’t really get into, hey, in this game against this team, we have to do X, Y and Z. We just challenged the players to prepare hard every week no matter who the opponent was. We knew at some point the process would pay off.

“Notre Dame is a phenomenal team but I think our guys finally have bought into how we do things here. It has taken a while and that is natural. It was really good on Saturday to see them get their reward for all the hard work they have put in.”

The Thundering Herd continue their three-game road swing Saturday at Bowling Green. Marshall will visit Troy on September 24 in their Sun Belt Conference opener before returning home to host Gardner-Webb on October 1.

“The process was not put in place just to beat Notre Dame. The process was put in place to come out every week with the right consistency in our preparation and the right consistency in how we practice and the right consistency in how we play. It just happened to be Notre Dame. I told them at the beginning of the week, ‘If you prepare any different for Notre Dame than you did for Norfolk [State], than you did yourself a disservice against Norfolk’. You can say the same thing for this week.”

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