Herd football opens C-USA play at WKU


Franklin Norton

Quarterback Isaiah Green (17) runs off the field after NC State forced the Herd to punt. Green is suppressed by NC State’s heavy coverage of Tyre Brady.

Marshall football (2-1) will attempt to return to the win column Saturday at Houchens-Smith Stadium in its 7:30 p.m. matchup against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (1-3).

“We have an opportunity this week to play one of the top teams in our conference,” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. “It’ll be a great challenge for us, and we’ll have to do a great job with our preparation this week.”

After three nonconference games, the Thundering Herd begins Conference USA play in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  Marshall leads the teams’ all-time series 5-4 after a 30-23 Herd win at Joan C. Edwards Stadium last season.

The Hilltoppers sparked tension with the Herd in 2014, when the they ended Marshall’s perfect season and bid for a New Year’s Six bowl with a 67-66 overtime win. The Herd has eight redshirt seniors who were scout squad members on that 2014 Conference USA Championship team.

“There’s no doubt that we have had some history with Western Kentucky,” Holliday said. “They are an excellent football team and I’m sure they are treating it as a rival.”

Through its first four games, WKU has played four quarterbacks, including three different starters. Redshirt senior Drew Eckels, redshirt sophomore Steven Duncan and redshirt freshman Davis Shanley have all made starts at quarterback this season. WKU is the only FBS program to start three different quarterbacks through its first four games. For two consecutive weeks, WKU’s offensive starting lineup has been without a senior starter.

The Herd will be playing against one of the youngest rosters in the nation. WKU has 10 redshirt seniors and 11 total seniors. 70 out of the 102 players on the Hilltoppers’ roster are either true freshmen, redshirt freshmen, or sophomores.

Marshall has used one quarterback, redshirt freshman Isaiah Green, who became the first quarterback in Marshall history to pass for 250 or more yards in his first three starts. Green passed for 272 yards against Miami (Ohio), 278  yards against EKU and 270 yards against NC State. Redshirt senior running back Keion Davis set a new single-game best last weekend with six receptions for and 99 receiving yards. Davis finished with 203 all-purpose yards.

The Herd’s captains for Saturday’s game are Davis, senior wide receiver Marcel Williams, redshirt senior defensive lineman Ryan Bee and redshirt junior safety Malik Gant.

Morgan Griffith can be contacted at [email protected]