Coach Mark Snyder of Marshall was not surprised by Ahmad Bradshaw winning the award. "He's very deserving," said Snyder. "He's a very special talent, a very special football player who plays with passion, emotion and heart." Bradshaw deferred all praise to his offensive line. "They did a great job," said Bradshaw of his line of Doug Legursky, David Ziegler, Brian Leggett, Seth Cook, Chris Barnes and John Inman. "They did of great job of getting me holes and I just tried to hit them hard." It was the third-best rushing performance ever by a Marshall back, and the first 200-plus rusher for the Herd since Chris Parker against ETSU in 1993. "It is an honor," said Bradshaw.
Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 242 yards against UAB to win C-USA Offensive Player of Week honors. He had 89 yards rushing versus Memphis last season, finishing with 997 for the season, but has now passed Orlando Hatchett and Larry Fourquean for ninth all-time at MU with 2,327 yards in his career. (HI file photo by Greg Perry)
Snyder also talked about the win over UAB and the upcoming game with Memphis, the 105th Homecoming game at Marshall this Saturday at 4:30 p.m. "It was a good win," said Snyder. "We got a win on the road. I hope it gives us some momentum and confidence and we reap some rewards." The Herd will host the Tigers, 1-6 and 0-3 in Conference USA. "Memphis is very good. Their record doesn't indicate how much talent they have. They have all tall receivers and that concerns me."
Memphis has had a big change on defense, since Joe Lee Dunn, the defensive coordinator for the last four years, was let go in week four. Head coach Tommy West is now calling the defense and Snyder likes what he has seen on film. "For the long haul, I like what he is doing," said Snyder. "There is merit in the other defense, its not really good or bad. But if you want to win championships, in the long haul, and it's just my opinion, I like what they are doing. It's a proven over the years." He also liked his defense coming up with two interceptions in the first half. "It hyped our confidence. Our record is indicative of our turnover margin (MU is 114th in nation of 119 teams). We managed to equal their takeaways and make plays." Snyder also saw a different Herd team before UAB. "The kids got tired of losing," said Snyder. "The look in their eye was different. It was a change in attitude and we finally put all three phases together."
Snyder was also happier with his secondary's play, although he was cautious in his optimisim. "You got to be careful, as they hit a couple of big ones early, almost a long touchdown, but they are being more aggressive. That comes with game experience. Zearrick Mathews tackled well and played with confidence. He is going to be a good one for years to come. J.J. (J.J. Johnson) had the interception and that was huge. The defense turned it up, found a little extra and found a way to make a play."
Tommy West of Memphis has watched the Tigers fall to 1-6, 0-3 with a 35-14 loss at UM's Homecoming game to West Division leading Tulsa. He likes the improvement of his defense, which has switched from a three-man front to a four-man front, but knows it is a slow process to change in-seasons. "Our defense is taking steps, but it is awfully slow due to the nature of where we were and what we're going to be. We are just trying to play base at this time." West, who coached the three-time C-USA Player of the Year in running back DeAngelo Williams, knows how dangerous a team with an outstanding running back, like Marshall's Bradshaw, can be.
"This is an unbelievable challenge," said West of playing the Herd. "Marshall is more of a power game (than Tulsa). They went crazy versus UAB and UAB has a pretty good defensive front." Marshall rushed for 317 yards in the game, a best ground effort in the Snyder era. " Demarcus Coker at Tennessee is good, but I think Ahmad Bradshaw is the best back we have played this year. What he, what any good back, gives you is the 40-50-60 yard runs or scores. It's hard to go 12-15 plays without someone messing up. He makes your quarterback better, he makes calling the game easier, especially this year with less plays." West was referring to the new faster start of the clock, which has cut down the total number of offensive plays somewhat.
As far as his offense, West is looking for improvement in what he calls a "big play" offensive team. "We haven't been as good as we have wanted to be," said West, whose only win this season is over I-AA Chattanooga. "We took 10 shots downfield against Tulsa and hit only one. We have to take 10-to-15 shots downfield per game and hit six or seven of these. We have got to get big plays, because we're not a two-back, hard-nosed offense that can drive it down the field. The first thing we do in the spring is throw, we've got to throw the ball." West is happy with the improvement of quarterback Martin Hankins, who transferred from Southeast Louisiana after starting there as freshman and sophomore for SLU coach Hal Mumme. "Being around coach Mumme, he learned to read defenses. We have been working on his fundamentals, but he played well last week and look for him to continue improving this week." Tiger running back Joseph Dodds also passed the 1,000 yard career mark this past weekend. "The last two or three games, Joe was not as good as we needed him to be," said West. "Against Tulsa, he had a hard run for a touchdown, breaking two or three tackles to get in. He did his own blocking on that play. Joe is playing better."