— By Bill Cornwell
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall’s football team gets an unusually early break in its schedule with an open week following its first two games.
The Thundering Herd (2-0) has extra preparation time for next Saturday’s sold-out noon matchup with Virginia Tech at Edwards Stadium.
The Hokies (1-1) play Saturday at Rutgers.
Even with no game this weekend, Marshall coach Charles Huff recognizes the importance of this week and what it means for his squad’s development in the short team and throughout the rest of this season.
“We have a lot to clean up before we think about Virginia Tech,” Huff said. “It’s an opportunity to look at what you’re doing well, what kids are struggling with, get them some extra reps, mend some bruises wherever they may be. We’ve got to make sure we maximize this.”
Through two games, Marshall’s offense has dealt with several notable issues. The Herd has started slow offensively in both games, scoring only 10 first-half points which all came in last week’s win at East Carolina.
Marshall actually struggled in the second and third quarters at ECU, but turned things around with a 21-point fourth quarter that powered MU to the victory.
Marshall’s veteran defense is getting the job done. That unit, guided by first-year defensive coordinator Jason Semore, allowed East Carolina to gain 269 years, 31 yards fewer than the 300 Albany gained in the season opener. Two fourth-quarter interceptions by senior Micah Abraham highlighted the Herd’s stingy defensive showing against the Pirates.
“Now that we’ve got two games on guys we can start to see some consistency in production and some inconsistency, so we’ve got to be able to make adjustments, coach up the inconsistencies and retain the consistencies,” Huff said. “This bye week will be a big piece of that. We still have some young guys on this team who are really close to playing and we’ve got to get them ready because as the season goes, we’re going to need them. This week’s going to be big for those guys.”
There is also no shortage of special teams attention as Marshall has looked at several different returner combinations in the early season.
The Herd’s kicking situation is also in flux, and last week, Marshall replaced sophomore Rece Verhoff with junior Kameron Lake, a transfer from Division II Washburn
Lake made 1-of-2 field goals and all four point-after kicks.