Marshall prepares for Charlotte’s defense


Marshall University’s football team will take on the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Saturday in search of its seventh consecutive victory.

Charlotte enters Saturday’s contest with a 2-5 record (0-4 C-USA), having lost its last five games.

Turnovers have doomed the 49ers this season as it has given the ball away 27 times, eight more than any other team in C-USA.

The team’s offense has not atoned for those giveaways with production in other areas, ranking second to last in both total offense and scoring offense.

The 49ers’ defense, however, ranks third in the conference, despite the lack of support from the other side of the ball.

Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said the defense’s success is largely due to Charlotte head coach Brad Lambert combining complex schemes and a demand for maximum effort from his players.

“They play a three-down look, odd front,” Holliday said. “They bring people from all over the place. They create a lot of disruption, a lot of negative plays. You watch that defense play, just the effort they play with, the disruption they cause, they’ve given most teams a lot of problems.”

Leading the Charlotte defense is junior nose tackle Larry Ogunjobi, who has 33 tackles, one sack and 8.5 tackles for loss this season.

Holliday said Ogunjobi is a highly skilled player, who may have a future in football at the next level.

“He looks like (NFL material) to me,” Holliday said. “He’s big, he’s physical, he can run and he looks like he’s got a shot. On film, he’s a good player.”

Marshall center Michael Selby said he has seen Ogunjobi on film and knows he will present a challenge on a play-by-play basis.

“They have a great nose guard,” Selby said. “He’s good, he’s twitchy and he’s good with his hands, so we just have to get ready for that guy and start watching film.”

Ogunjobi is not the only component of Charlotte’s defense that will require considerable game planning from offensive coordinator Bill Legg.

Holliday said the Charlotte defense deploys multiple defensive fronts and blitz concepts the Marshall offensive line will have to communicate to keep quarterback Chase Litton upright.

“We’ll have to try to get them blocked up, get them matched up, ID them the proper way and get hats on the people we need to get hats on,” Holliday said. “But they do a good job with mixing things up.”

Litton said he agreed with Holliday’s point of the defense giving opponents various looks, but said if the Marshall offense prepares properly during the week, it can have success.

“(Charlotte’s defense) likes to mix things up,” Litton said. “They like to play different things a lot of defenses don’t play. So, as soon as we can get that down on film to be consistent, to be ready for anything they can give us, we can be very special. But we just have to get ready for that.”

Bradley Heltzel can be contacted at [email protected]