Herd Falls: Rice Ahead

Marshall lost to Ohio Saturday to see its record fall to one win and two losses. Ohio took back the bell, and Marshall prepares to head to Houston, Texas next weekend to do something it has never done before, win a football game in the Lone Star State. This time it will be against the Rice Owls, a win would get the Herd off to a 1 and 0 start in Conference USA play.

Marshall will enter that game coming off a 27 to 24 last minute set back to the Bobcats of Ohio. It was a contest that left many Marshall fans with a bad taste in their mouths, but for reasons that were not nearly as prominent as typically happened in losses in the last decade.

There was really no one to blame, no players or coaches for fingers to be pointed at. One could ask, well why not, there were turnovers, missed third down conversions, a seventeen point second quarter by the Bobcats, surely there is blame to go around? Right?

Let's take a look at a few of the aforementioned concerns.

1. The turnovers. Although Marshall had three, I am just going to look at the last two. First the fumble from Antavious Wilson. That was just one player trying to make a play, going against two others trying to make a play. Advantage Ohio, difficult to place any blame there at all. The other one was the interception by Rakeem Cato. The defender made an excellent play. Cato was six inches away from being perfect on that throw, unfortunately, it was not meant to be.

2. Missed third down conversions? My only concern would be the play calling on the 3rd and one near midfield. We ran a toss sweep. That play baffles me on short yardage. Typically only three things can happen and two are bad. The runner can get the first down, get crushed for a loss, or gain yardage only to have it called back to the all to frequent holding call. I felt the ball should have been ran between the tackles twice if needed. Other than that one play, the Herd converted 11 of 20 on third downs.

3. The seventeen point second quarter was crushing, however, it didn't cost the Herd the game. Marshall was able to bounce back in the third quarter and hold the Bobcats scoreless. Obviously some adjustments were made by the defensive staff. They were also able to hold them to just 10 total second half points, three coming off the fumble return deep into Marshall territory.

At the end of the day, it was a hard fought game between two above average teams, that was won by the team that made the biggest play last.

Most Herd fans should be able to walk away from this game feeling differently than most early season heartbreakers from the last 7 seasons. This game should not destroy the season. Walking out of this game, most fans should have the feeling that any team left on the schedule is still beatable. Marshall was able to amass nearly 500 yards of total offense for the third consecutive week.

Player of the Week: Rakeem Cato – Marshall record for completions in a game with 44,on 65 attempts. 432 yards, nearly 70% completion percentage, three touchdowns and one interception. Also, a stat which has gone unnoticed is the 46 rushing yards on just 6 attempts that he tallied.

Unsung Player of the Week: Alex Bazzie. The season, thus far, has seen the defensive line get little to no pressure on the quarterback. In addition to Bazzie's seven tackles, he also had 1.5 tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries. Marshall did not record a sack, but did get some second half pressure on Tyler Tettleton.

How about Tommy Shuler? Shuler changed numbers from 17 to 1. Started in place of Andre Booker in the slot, and ended the game with 13 catches for 121 yards. The 13 catches moved him up to 24 for the year which ties him with Aaron Dobson for the team lead, and puts both of them in a tie for 7th in the county.

Kudos to the crowd. Marshall fans stepped up as a whole this weekend and came out to the tame. Was it the 630 kick time, the Battle of The Bell, or the lack of TV? 33,346, the sixth largest crowd in stadium history.

I am hoping to touch base with the weekends visitors within the next couple of days, so stay tuned to Herdhaven.com for further updates.

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