A Look at the Herd's First Third

The first third of the 2013 football season has sadly already come and gone. Teams across the country are going through different things on a daily basis. Coaching issues going on at Texas and Nebraska. Players across the country are having issues with the NCAA, but ultimately it comes down to what is going on in your own back yard.

For Marshall fans, that back yard is Joan C. Edwards Stadium and the Shewey Building. Marshall enters the middle third of the football season with a record of two wins and two losses. Many experts expected the Herd to be one game better. The loss to Ohio a week ago still stings, but it should not effect the Herd as they strive to reach their ultimate goals.

Yesterday, Marshall looked to take a step further towards showing they are back as a program, but on a rain soaked field they came up just short in three overtimes at powerhouse Virginia Tech. The final score was 29 to 21 and Marshall had many opportunities to win the game. A drop on fourth down in the corner of the endzone by Davonte Allen ultimately put the final nail in the coffin.

Lets take a quick look at the first third of the season.

What is improved:

Simply put, the defense. Marshall went from one of the worse, if not the worse defense in the country to a top 10 defense in terms of Total Defense. The season is still young, but with a BCS team, VT, and a high powered offensive team, Ohio, on the schedule, these numbers are impressive. The staff is also showing the ability to fix issues on the fly. Case in point is third down conversions. Two weeks ago Marshall allowed Ohio to convert 11 of 19, they bounced back by allowing VT to only convert 2 of 16. The defense also has nearly as many sacks and interceptions as they did most of last season.

What is needed:

Seems that only one thing is needed, and it could have been found yesterday. A Deep Threat. Devon Smith proved yesterday that he could be the answer, catching a 54 yard touchdown pass, and nearly catching another which would have been a game winner. Currently he is averaging 19.2 yards per catch. Davonte Allen has got to step up.

Marshall still has a lot to prove. Currently the two wins have been against programs who are not exactly on par with what the rest of the programs that the Herd will play. Starting on October 5th Marshall will dive headfirst into CUSA play as the out of conference schedule is over.

Marshall opens with CUSA newcomer UTSA. UTSA won a stunner last night on the road in their CUSA opener against in state UTEP. UTSA dominated the Miners throughout the game on a special night for UTEP as they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Sun Bowl.

The Herd then travels to FAU. FAU is 1 – 3, and 0 and 2 in CUSA play. FAU just lost a heartbreaking overtime thriller to MTSU. The section ends with a Thursday night game at MTSU, and a home game against USM.

First third Game Balls:

Offensive Player:

Rakeem Cato - Cato has thrown of 1,077 yards and is on pace to track down Chad Pennington's all time record. He has thrown 9 TD's and 4 int's. Cato has also added 141 rushing yards, and 3 additional rushing TD's.

Defensive Player – James Rouse. Rouse has battled injuries his entire career. Right now, as a senior defensive tackle he is proving to be an absolute force in the middle. This culminated with a 7 tackle, 1 tackle for loss, .5 sack day in Blacksburg.

Special Teams – At this point no one has really stepped up.

Freshman of the Year – Gary Thompson. The defensive end is becoming a threat off the corner to get to the quarterback on any given play. Had four tackles and a sack at Virginia Tech.

One other note, through four games, Marshall has out gained their opponents 1,943 to 1,140.

Stay tuned to Herdhaven.com for further updates as we venture into an off week and take a long look at recruiting and what the roster could look like this time next season.

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