Game # 8 - Marshall Thundering Herd

The Owls have been pressing all season to match last year's magical results without much success. The solution to the Owl's problem is right here...

I've got the perfect game plan for the Rice Owls as they face the Marshall Thundering Herd this Saturday. It didn't take hours of film study or charting tendencies. In fact, it doesn't weigh too heavily on the team they'll face much at all. The plan isn't extremely complex either, experience isn't required and our young guys are just as good at it as the upperclassmen. Here it is: just have fun playing football. Let it rip, lay the wood, blow some people up, let it roll, let it happ'n capt'n. Hoot! Holler! Woof! Shout it out to the mountain tops my brotha! If there's one thing missing from the team this year it's emotion. I said emotion, not desire. Our guys want to win badly, no question at all about that. But I think they've been focused so intently on repeating last year's success, or even improving upon it that they haven't been able to do what makes every player better – relax and play the game. Our guys have been tight all season – except for maybe the Southern Miss game. Accidental? Nope, I think the pressure was entirely on Southern Miss that night and we played like a team with nothing to lose. Which is where we are now, with nothing to lose. A lead in the conference, a national ranking, a dazzling record, one win to be bowl eligible – none of these apply.

I think Chase has felt the pressure as much or more than anyone. I'd like to see the offense pick up their pace a little – get to the line and run a play, establish a rhythm and keep it going. Mix in some 2-minute offense and put the defense on their heels. Let's get them thinking more, and us thinking less. What we lack in explosion we have to account for with confusion.

On defense, I'd like to see us blitzing and mixing coverages, namely bumping with our corners some in a "man tight". Basically, I'd like to see more "man-free" coverage than what we've been doing which looks more like a "3 Deep Zone" lately. Remember Andrew Sendejo left the game groggy last week so he's 50/50 for the game, which means we'll possibly have a freshman starting at Free Safety. I'd rather put pressure on our cornerbacks than rely on freshmen for deep help. Marshall has a speedy wideout (see below) so we won't get away with this exclusively. We couldn't stop much of anything last week. I am confident we won't repeat last week's struggles where we couldn't stop pass or run. I think we'll scheme to make them beat us with one or the other. One way or the other, I hope we fly to ball and swarm on defense. It's tough when you're as young as we are on that side of the ball to just "react and explode" rather than "think, react and explode". Obviously the difference is a step – and that extra step has been killing us. Here are some particulars about the match-up tomorrow…

Marshall-

Marshall Head Coach Mark Snyder is in his 3rd season as coach on the Huntington, WV campus of the Thundering Herd. Snyder has a solid resume, having coached under Jim Tressel and Glen Mason. He played defensive back for Marshall in the late ‘80's. Regardless, Herd fans are growing restless as a result of his 9-21 record, and winless season this year…

One Marshall player the Owls are glad they won't see: Albert McLellan. He was the C-USA Defensive Player of the Year last year with 11.5 sacks. McLellan had a season ending injury in pre-season practices…

The Herd has two dynamic receiving weapons in sophomore TE Cody Slate and junior WR Darius Passmore. Slate leads Marshall in receiving with 35 catches for 539 yards. He is second in the country among all tight ends in receptions, second only to USC's Fred Davis. He is a John Mackey Award candidate, which goes to the best tight end in the country each year. Passmore brings 4.3 speed with his 6-3 185 pound frame…

Much like Rice's defense, Marshall's is led by FS C.J. Spillman. The Louisville native leads the team in tackles with 72 tackles, 2.5 TFL and 2 forced fumbles. Weakside Linebacker Maurice Kitchens is second on the team in tackles but has 1.5 sacks and the team's lone interception of the year…

Scott Solomon will have his hands full Saturday against RT Daniel Baldridge, a nearby Opelousas, La. native. Baldridge tips the scales at 6-9 320…

The weather in Huntington tomorrow is expected to be in the mid-60's and rainy…

Rice-

Jarett Dillard leads Rice in receiving with 33 catches for 486 yards and 7 touchdowns. Justin Hill leads the Owls in rushing with a net (after losses) 180 yards – for the season…

Brian Raines leads the Owls defense in tackles (53), tackles for a loss (6.5), sacks (3.0), and quarterback hurries (2) – despite missing the UH game with injury…

The Owls lead the league in one category – a 35.4 average per game of penalty yards charged. Could be the refs though, their cumulative opponents rank is 4th. "Holding" in particular it seems is rarely called on our opponents. Our defensive ends have darned near had their jerseys torn off in many games this year, particularly the Big 12 ones…

Saturday Chase Clement has a chance to become the career leader for touchdowns thrown by a Rice quarterback. He currently has 38…

"I Am Irrrron Maan!" – George Chukwu has started 42 games while at Rice…

Rice has regularly played 20 true and red-shirt freshmen this year, including 15 players from its recruiting class signed in February…

Gary Anderson Jr. leads the team with 7 pass breakups. Good for Gary, a 5th year senior who's been plagued by injury his entire career…

Kickoff time is 3:30 PM central and will aired on CSTV.


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