Herd Football Faces Stiff Test Saturday

Marshall’s week three opponent is a team without a win this season, but they have not played like a winless team. East Carolina enters Saturday’s matchup with the Herd, 0-2 with losses to Appalachian State and SEC foe South Carolina. The loss to the Gamecocks this weekend was on a last-second field goal.  

     “They’re really good,” Marshall head coach Charles Huff said. “This will be the best team that we’ve played thus far in the season, the best overall team.”  

Third-year East Carolina head football coach Mike Houston believes there is momentum building despite the two losses. “I do think there’s some confidence gained from the way we competed and played,” Houston said. “I think there’s a lot of positives coming out of these first two games. I think there’s a lot of individual plays that get magnified in a very close loss when one thing goes our way, you win the ballgame. There’s a big difference in 1-1 and 0-2 right now where our program is.”  

This is a Pirates roster that has talent and experience on both sides of the ball. “This is a very experienced defense,” QB Grant Wells said. “I think they return somewhere between nine or 10 starters on defense. Whenever you play a team like that, you know they’re experienced, and they will play together.” 

Marshall running back Rasheen Ali said the East Carolina defense is similar to Marshall’s defense; one that the Marshall offense practices against daily. “I think playing them is just like playing our defense,” Ali said. “We’re going to be ready because we always play against our defense every day, so I don’t think it’s going to be any different. I think we’re going to be prepared, we’re going to watch film and we’ll do what we have to do to be prepared for them.” 

Offensively, East Carolina is led by its fourth-year starter at quarterback, Holton Ahlers. The Greenville, North Carolina native has twi touchdowns and three interceptions this season. CJ Johnson and Tyler Snead are wide receivers on the outside to whom Ahlers has thrown the football over the course of his time with the Pirates. ECU has used running backs Keaton Mitchell and Rahjai Harris to start the season. Both are in their second year with the team and have rushed for 92 yards this season. “When you put on the film, there’s nobody hiding,” Huff said. “There’s no, ‘Oh, here’s a weakness,’ or ‘Oh, here’s a size advantage,’ or ‘Oh, they have a good system, but…’ There’s none of that. This is a real football team.” 

Saturday’s matchup between the Herd and the Pirates will be the 16th meeting all-time and the first since November 29, 2013; a game in which the Herd was victorious.