Herd Returns Home to Try to Get Back on Track

Zach Bollinger, Sports Columnist

It feels like an eternity and a half ago that Marshall was victoriously walking off the field in
South Bend after knocking off the number 8 team in the country. Since then, however, things
haven’t been going the Herd’s way.

Marshall has dropped back-to-back games against Bowling Green and Troy since. Now, returning home to the Joan C. Edwards Stadium to take on Gardner Webb, here’s how the Herd can get back in the win column.

Continue to Win on Defense

Marshall’s defensive unit has impressed all season, even in a tough loss to Troy, the defense did not surrender an offensive touchdown. The front seven has proven its ability to win in the trenches against opposing offenses allowing just 84.2 rushing yards per game. The defense will have to control the game upfront and get Gardner Webb off the field every opportunity
they get.

Control Time of Possession

Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. Marshall has only lost the time of possession battle once this year. Bowling Green held the ball for 32 minutes compared to Marshall’s 28. Marshall’s most dominant win of the year, Norfolk State, saw them control the ball for 36 minutes. You must stay on the field on third downs to keep the ball. This year Marshall is converting just 44% (25/60) on third downs. If this offense gets back on track, they must stay on the field as long as possible.

Stay Ahead of the Chains

To put this more simply, stop getting in third and long. Marshall needs to put themselves in manageable situations, starting with the offensive line. Marshall has allowed 16 sacks, including 15 times in the past three games through four games.

The O-line needs to give Henry Colombi more protection if Marshall wants any chance of the offense returning to their efficiency in the season’s first two matchups. Leaning on the running game on early downs will allow Marshall to stay in short-yardage situations where they can enable their talented backs to make plays.

Win the Turnover Battle

Last game Marshall saw a strip sack scoop and score by Troy’s Buddha Jones be the only touchdown the Herd surrendered in a 9-point loss. Marshall has seen firsthand the difference a significant turnover can make in a game. Steven Gilmore had a late game pick 6 to seal the deal against Notre Dame. If the Herd wants to win this game, they will need to protect the football on offense and swarm to it on defense.

If Marshall can stay consistent on the ground, control the clock, keep the QB up and win the turnover battle, then they should leave the Joan C. Edwards stadium Saturday at 3-2.