Report Card: Marshall @ Western Michigan

In the most complete effort for the Herd offense and defense since at least Kansas State (and maybe the entire season), Marshall gave up an early touchdown set up by another failure on special teams (more on that area later), but reeled off 24 unaswered points to put away Western Michigan on "Blackout Saturday" in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Herd appears to be on a roll as we head back to Huntington for a little Halloween trick on the Akron Zips, but first the grades for the Bronco Busting Herd:

Offensive Line A+ What can you say? No sacks (I'm sorry, but Jason Babin's tackle of Stan Hill on the fumble at the line is not a sack, no matter how bad you want him to break Joel Smeenge's WMU sack record, Broncos stat crew) against a team thet averaged nearly four per game (on 27 pass attempts!). Nate McPeek and Nate Griffin DOMINATED the outstanding Western ends, while Joey Stepp, Luke Salmons and Toby Bullock bulled the defensive front and linebackers all day.

Quarterbacks A Stan Hill was huge before reinjuring his knee, hitting 14-of-17 (83%) for 231 yards and one touchdown to Darius Watts. If he cannot return for Akron (and Miami seems more in line with resting knee), "G-Squared" was even more impressive. Graham Gochneaur looks more at ease than any time in the last two years in the Marshall offense, hitting 7-of-10 for 95 yards including a pretty of a pass to Watts for 41 yards as Chad Pennington, Byron Leftwich or any other MU quarterback ever threw. So much for not being able to go downfield. Add 59 yards rushing and now you have a quarterback like the ones who have frustrated MU on defense through the years; guys like Josh Cribbs, Butchie Washington, Taveras Bolden and Charlie Frye of Akron (who may not play, as he has a very painful hip pointer from the UConn game).

Running Backs B Butchie Wallace returns to lineup with a 26-yard score on his first carry-welcome back, kid, as he gains 49 yards on 11 carries (4.5 ypc) and another score. Earl Charles runs for a tough 61 yards against a defense obviously keying on #34 and chips in score. Don't forget Watts and Josh Davis, who chipped in 50 yards on four carries and Davis has a score from five-yards out.Grade A if no fumble by Charles in "redzone."

Receivers A "Mercy," as Steve Cotton would say, there is no way freshman corners can cover these guys. No one else can, either, as Watts continues to add to his record-setting career. Nine catches for 170 yards and one touchdown. Tight end Jason Rader caught four for 33 yards while Davis had three for 55. Wilbur Hargrove made his first career catch for 15 yards. Hiram Moore also had a 15-yard catch, giving Herd fans and foes a taste of hwat's to come in the receiving department. Charles adds 31 yards on two catches to give him nearly 100 total offense on the day.

Defensive Line A Stayed in the face of Jon Drach all day, adding up three sacks between Jamaal Whyce, Reggie Hayes, Jonathan Goddard and Jamus Martin. Holds Western to 47 yards net rushing and Martin leads defense with five solos and five assists.

Linebackers A Welcome back, J.T. Rembert! In his first significant playing time due to injury, Rembert steals ball from WMU on second defensive play of day by Herd. Kevin Adkins had seven tackles and Charlie Tynes had three tackles. Demarcus Thomas had two "Big Hit of Day" plays on special teams.

Defensive Backs B Best game of year for this unit against one of the best passing offenses in MAC and NCAA. Curtis Keyes interception huge at the end of the half. Whip Gladstone Coke continues to get better, with five tackles and one sack. Willie Smith covered like glue and had three solos. With Keyes and Roberto Terrell out for second half, Moriah Anderson (five tackles) Chris Royal (two tackles) step up.

Special Teams C- What is the deal? For every good thing (Nick Kelly career-best 43-yard field goal, good kickoff (16 yards per return, long of 25) and Tremel Guillory's four punt returns for 36 yards) there is even more bad. Lack of coverage on punt returns set up both WMU scores with short fields. Punter Klint Rose returns and averages 39.5 on two punts but both kicks are directly to Kendrick Mosley, one of the MAC's best return men. Ian O'Conner has a kick out of bounds, Chris Royal fumbles a kickoff return, MU averages seven yards per kickoff return on two tries and Ben Lewis misses an absolute chip-shot field goal for the first MU lead in game. Special teams coach Lou Anarumo is not wearing his hair shorter, he may be pulling it out every week as there is some different breakdown on his special teams units.

Overall B Offense and defense-good. Special Teams-puzzeling. Team-ready to deal some revenge to the Akron Zips on Saturday and the only way to see it is live at MU Stadium.

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