Marshall Opens C-USA With Memphis

Marshall has won big and lost big to open the 2008 season, winning at home against Illinois State and losing on the road at No. 10 Wisconsin. But those were out of conference games and Conference USA wins are the wins that take a team like Marshall to a chance at a league title and shot at a bowl. The Memphis Tigers come in a little banged and bruised, with losses at Ole Miss and to Rice.

Saturday night at 7 p.m., either Marshall or Memphis will find itself in a 0-1 hole in Conference USA play and that's a place no team wants to be. The Herd got back to work on Tuesday in full pads for one of the first times since August, working on making mistake corrections on offense where three second-half interceptions gave the Wisconsin Badgers all the momentum they needed in a 51-14 win in a game that was 14-0 in the Herd's favor and 17-14 at the half.

On defense, Marshall knows exactly what's coming from the Tigers of Memphis. "We are a pass first, run second team," said U of M head coach Tommy West, who sees his Memphis team surrendering 83 points in the first two games of the year. The quarterback who is leading the charge is junior transfer Arkelon Hall, who played at the College of the Sequioas last year. Hall has thrown for 532 yards against Ole Miss and Rice, along with three touchdowns and three interceptions but finds his team 0-2 to start the season.

There has been some discontent in the Tiger camp this week, as Memphis receiver Duke Calhoun, No. 7 in receiving all-time for the Tigers, did not show up for Sunday practice. West assured the media Calhoun, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound junior, would be with the team at Marshall. "He made a mistake, a 21-year old's mistake," said West, who is in his eighth year at Memphis with a record of 41-46 but also four bowl appearances. Many Memphis fans have not been happy either with West using a three-man front, but the coach defended his defense by showing the Tigers used the three-man front much more often in the first half than the second, when Memphis allowed 29 points in the fourth quarter to Rice in the loss.

Marshall knows the Tigers will throw, and cornerback Josh Miller has known Hall since high school. Both were at the College of the Sequoias last year, along with MU tight end Maurice Graham. "He has no conscious," said Miller of Hall. "He'll thrown an interception, and not even think about it on the next play." Miller said they called Hall, "Big Back," because he could make the big play at any time.

The Marshall corners will especially be tested Saturday by Calhoun and the other big, tall Tiger receivers. Maurice Jones is 6-foot-4, Carlos Singleton is 6-foot-8 and Steven Black and Earnest Williams are both 6-foot-3. In fact, Marshall practiced against reserve MU tight end Jamie Hatten, who is 6-foot-5 and lined up at receiver during practice with the scout offense to simulate the height. In any case, Saturday is a tall order for the Herd's defense but Marshall won at home two year's ago despite Martin Hankins throwing for 322 yards and two scores in a 41-27 win. It may be a shootout once again for the "M & M" boys of C-USA.

Notes: With rain expected this weekend, equipment manager Rich Worner was seen pouring water on the ball and hands of MU long snapper Sean McClellan. He did not mis-fire on a single snap despite the wet ball and hands...Connie Reed of "McReedo's" in Huntington has challenged every business in town to put "Beat Memphis" on their marquee, or to come by McReedo's and pick up a sign to put in the front window...It will be Medical Appreciation Night Saturday night, and all hospital and medical persons can get discounts on tickets with their ID badges...King's Daughters Medical Center in Ashland went one better by purchasing 1,200 end zone tickets and selling to employees of the hospital for just $1.

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