I am not going to tell you it will all be fine in two weeks when the Herd has a HUGE Homecoming game with East Division leader Kent State (bet you would have never thought you would see HUGE and division leader in a sentance about Kent State, huh?). I will say that the 2-3 start by the Herd is exactly one less win than I thought we would have at this point in the season.
Turnovers, three away games in the first five, the toughest stretch in Marshall history and numerous injuries are all taking their toll on the Herd so far this year. The season looks more like the typical Mid-American Conference team than what MU fans are used to: only two games at home early in the year, two big money games on the road and an early conference loss to a contending team.
We as Herd fans knew only five home games would test this team. We knew there were only 15 seniors on this team and Coach Bob Pruett was concerned about who would step up and become a leader. We believed that no team could come into Marshall University stadium and beat the Herd. We knew Marshall never loses to Troy State, not even on the biggest night in the history of the Trojan program and after the biggest win, according to many, in the history of the Marshall program. Right?
What we did not know was that the offensive line, with three new starters and its best player, Nate McPeek, severly limited by a disc surgery and the pain resulting from this buldging disc, would have trouble moving the pile on third and fourth and short. We could not have imagined Stan Hill would go down with a severe knee sprain against Tennessee and that one of the brightest young backups, Adam Black, would be lost for the year to an unheard of injury, by many local doctors, in his ear. We did not dream that games with Tennessee, Toledo and Kansas State would exact such a toll physically on the Herd, banging up four starters on the defensive line, linebacker J.T. Rembert and losing Kevin Atkins, Roberto Terrell and Butchie Wallace at Troy State. And who thought safety play would be a liability at the school that has sent Chris Crocker and Rogers Beckett to the pros in the last four year?
So what does all of this mean? Marshall must rest, heal and get ready to win the MAC East Division, beginning October 11th with the Flashes. Marshall has very little margin for error in the seven games left, where even one loss is two in the league and may keep Marshall out of the post-season for the first time since 1990. I, for one, think this team will regroup after a week off and begin a traditional Marshall march through the Flashes, Bulls, Broncos, Zips, RedHawks, Knights and Bobcats. A MAC East title and 9-3 mark still sends MU to a bowl after the MAC Championship, most likely at Northern Illinois. Just remember, at least none of the remaining opponents start with the letter "T," as in Tennessee, Toledo and Troy State (and turnover, for that matter-teams that do not take care of the ball do not win, period). The only letter the Herd must worry about now is "W," as in WIN!