Can Herd Shake Road Woes?

It has been well documented, discussed by head coach Mark Snyder and his players and cussed by Herd fans watching and listening at home: road losses. Since taking over in 2005, Snyder's teams are just 2-17 away from the confines of the Joan C. Edwards Stadium and have lost the last nine trips in a row. That mark is way off the all-time record of 21 lost in a row by Marshall, from 1965-69.

Marshall lost its last trip to Hattiesburg, Miss. in 2006, when the Herd was 5-6 and looking right at a .500 season and a possible bowl game. Southern Miss blew out the Herd, 42-7, and are just as successful at "The Rock," or M.M. Roberts Stadium as Marshall is at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The Herd is 114-14 since 1991, and USM has had the same kind of success at its stadium.

"It's a lot like our place, you look at our record at home. Southern Miss is just a hard place to play," said Snyder. "They have great fans. Their players feed off of them just like our player feed off of our fans. You cannot turn the ball over and have blocked punts and a lot of penalties to give them anything to cheer about because it brings their team to life, just like our team."

QB Mark Cann, shown against Memphis, must move the offense with no turnovers if the Herd is going to pull out a win at Southern Miss on Saturday. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

Going back to earlier this decade finds the road has not been the Herd's best friend. If you discount the bowl games, at neutral sites, and throw out the 2005 win over Tulane in a game in Mobile, Ala., Marshall is just 15-31 away from "The Joan," but 4-1 in neutral or bowl games on the road.

The past two seasons, Marshall last won at UAB, beating the Blazers at historic Legion Field on October 21, 2006. Last season, however, it appeared MU was getting closer, losing by seven at Tulsa and Houston, both who went to bowls, and losing by three at Memphis, another bowl team. In 2006, except for the UAB win, the closest loss was by ten points at SMU, and no game was closer than a ten-point loss in 2005 at UCF, who broke a 17-game losing streak with that win.

In those close losses against the Golden Hurricane and the Cougars, Marshall did not turn the ball over and had two take-aways, but turned it over twice against Memphis. In those games, the Herd had three penalties at Memphis and at Houston, and seven for minus-60 yards at Tulsa. The Herd also limited kickoff returns and punt returns in all three games.

In the big losses on the road, MU turned the ball over with four interceptions at Miami, along with 12 penalties; lost two turnovers against Cincinnati with 13 penalties; and had three turnovers and eight penalties, along with giving up 26 yards per kickoff return, at UCF. If the Herd can take care of the ball, continue to limit penalties like they have this season and get some big special teams plays, Marshall might just break that road streak in a big way at "The Rock."

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