Herd Defense "Jake" With John Jacobs Back

TULSA, Okla. – For five games, Marshall's defensive line was a bunch of sad sacks. I mean that literally. The injury-decimated unit had managed a meager five sacks and everyone was pretty darned sad about it. Especially Head Coach Mark Snyder. But, now, the front four is a bunch of happy sacks.

That's because Marshall's defensive line put more pressure on Tulsa star Paul Smith here Saturday than it had applied on any quarterback all season. The rejuvenated Herd sacked Smith twice and was credited with three hurries, although I thought there were several more.

So, does that mean everything is jake with the defensive line now?

Does it ever.

And, yes, I also mean that literally.

The return of high-motored John Jacobs was the catalyst of the improved pass rush. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound sophomore defensive end burst back onto the scene in a big way, registering one sack, two additional tackles for loss and four total tackles.

"Jake" supplied the pass rush off the edge that has been so lacking all season.

"Yes, he helped," said Snyder. "He gave us a little bit of depth and some more speed on the field, too. We were able to roll some guys tonight (Saturday) and keep some guys fresh, which we haven't been able to do."

Although Jacobs didn't start – the Herd defense opened in a nickel with Ian Hoskins and Mike Janac at the ends – he entered the game with 11:15 left in the first quarter and almost immediately started making plays.

Late in the quarter, Jacobs dropped Tulsa running back Tarrion Adams for a five-yard loss. Then, just before halftime he nailed impressive Golden Hurricane true freshman fullback Charles Clay for an 11-yard loss.

The coup de grace, however, came early in the second half when Jacobs roared off the edge to sack Smith for a 10-yard loss.

So, if you're looking for bright spots in the winless Herd's 38-31 loss to Tulsa here Saturday, look no further than Jacobs. He served notice that opposing quarterbacks' vacations are over.

"It felt real good to get back," said Jacobs, who missed most of four games with a broken right hand that required surgery. "It felt good to have a chance to come out here and play defense against a really good team. It was really good just to get out here and compete and help my team have a chance to win."

Jacobs admitted the forced hiatus had been driving him crazy.

"Oh my goodness, I couldn't stand just having to sit and watch practice, watch games," said the high-energy defensive end. "I sat at home last week while they were in Memphis and watched that game on television. I didn't go because I had some academic stuff that I needed to take care of.

"It just feels really good to be able to come back and not be on vacation anymore … an unwanted vacation.

"There were four weeks where I couldn't do anything. No running, no nothing because I had the pins in my hand and didn't want to get them infected and this and that."

So, Jacobs literally – there's that word again -- started making up for lost time against Tulsa.

"I just tried to play hard," he said. "I just tried to give my team a chance to win."

Mission accomplished. Snyder vowed that Marshall's pass rush would show improvement against Tulsa and Jacobs and his 4.6 40-yard dash speed helped make it happen.

"We worked real hard," said the Harrisonburg, Va., native. "That was one of our main focuses, actually, during I don't know how many days of practice. I think we had nine in a row. We worked a lot on pass rush and pressure on the quarterback because we weren't doing a good enough job of that before.

"I think we got a lot better this week because it was one of our main focuses."

Besides his motor and speed, Jacobs also brought some much-needed depth to the defensive line. His return allowed MU to rotate Jacobs, Janac, Ryland Wilson and Hoskins. It also allowed the Herd to move true freshman Johnny Jones inside to tackle, creating a four-man rotation there for the first time in weeks.

"It gives us more depth," said Jacobs. "Rushing the quarterback isn't an easy thing. You've got to run around a lot and you've got to hustle. The quarterback is throwing, so you've got to run to the ball. It gave us a lot more depth."

After his performance here, look for Jacobs to be back in the starting lineup when Marshall (0-6, 0-2 Conference USA) hosts Southern Miss at 8 p.m. Sunday in a game nationally televised by ESPN from Edwards Stadium.

"It was nice to, I don't know … help," said Jacobs with a big smile. "We've got a lot of youth in there. Those guys have a bright future. Johnny, Mike … all those guys. The linebackers … all of them have a bright future."

That includes a guy wearing No. 46 who plays with a great motor.

Yep, everything is "Jake" with Marshall's defensive line again.

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