No. 22 Herd, Owls to square off for Homecoming game

The Marshall University Thundering Herd football team is returning home this week after competing in two consecutive road games against Western Kentucky University and Louisiana Tech University.

The Herd (4-0, 2-0 Conference USA) is coming off a 35-17 win against the Bulldogs last weekend.

Marshall entered back into the Associated Press (AP) Top 25 rankings as No. 22 overall and No. 25 in the Armway USA Today Coaches Poll.

The Herd’s ranking in the Coaches poll is the first time there since being previously ranked No. 20 on Nov. 23, 2014.

Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said this week’s game captains are running back Sheldon Evans, offensive lineman Alex Mollette, running back Brenden Knox, defensive end Koby Cumberlander and linebacker Tavante Beckett.

“What matters is where you are at the end of the season, right now it’s exciting,” Holliday said regarding the Herd’s presence back into the rankings. “We can’t listen to all the noise and make sure the kids understand that we’re in the top 25, we have a bullseye on our chests every week.”

The Florida Atlantic University Owls (1-0, 1-0 C-USA) are scheduled to make the trip to Huntington, West Virginia to face the Herd in its homecoming game.

This will be the Owls second game of the season and first road trip due to previous games being postponed and canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Last time FAU played was at home on Oct. 3 against Charlotte and won 21-17.

Holliday said the Herd will be preparing to play the scheduled game this week.

“We’ll prepare as we are playing this weekend,” Holliday said. “We got to worry about what we can control. What I can control is what our team is doing here and preparing to play this game. We go to work every day and get better as a football team.”

Marshall redshirt freshman quarterback Grant Wells said he doesn’t focus on the honors that he has received so far this season. He was recently named to the FWAA Freshman All-American Watch List.

“It was a pretty cool honor,” Wells said. “I try to stay away from those as much as possible and focus on FAU. It’s been a weird couple months. We started to play and all these accolades coming my way and dealing with COVID has made it a wild couple of months.”

Wells praised the team for the hard work and dedication that has been put in for the Herd’s success this far into the season.

“This is a fun team to be on,” Wells said. “Each guy is playing for each other. Everybody is working for the guy next to him.”

Wells said Marshall has to prepare for the Owls even though the team has played one game this season.

“We have to adapt,” Wells said. “We have to get back in that mindset.”Redshirt junior safety Derrek Pitts praised the Herd’s defensive effort this season.

“That’s the great plan for Marshall, it all started at camp,” Pitts said. “We have a lot of confidence. Everybody is so competitive. Coaches coach, players play, I’m a firm believer in that. We got a great defensive staff. If it doesn’t work, then we will make it work. We just believe in each other. This team, the trust is so crazy. Everybody is just happy to be a part of the team.”

Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The game will be produced by Stadium and will air on FOX’s regional networks, the FOX Sports Go app and Stadium plus on YouTube TV.

Taylor Huddleston can be contacted at [email protected].