COLUMN: Herd has seen culture change in recent years

Shannon Stowers, Assistant Sports Editor

It’s amazing how things can change in the span of a year or two. We all experience changes in our personal lives, and it’s no different for the Marshall University football team.

It was evident the culture would need to be changed when head coach Doc Holliday took over. Although that change wouldn’t happen overnight, the freshmen classes of 2010 and 2011 are now part of a core group of leaders on an undefeated team.

The Thundering Herd trailed at halftime Saturday for the first time since its 41-24 loss to Rice University last season. The last time it lost at home was two years ago to the University of Central Florida.

Despite the Herd’s ability to find its rhythm and put points on the board in a hurry, it was still a bit of a shock and a tad concerning to see the Herd walking into the Shewey Building trailing on the scoreboard. The difference between this year’s team and the teams from 2010 and 2011 that didn’t necessarily win those types of games is the experience of winning and the right leadership.

“I’m not sure I saw that in 2010, there were some wide eyes in there,” Holliday said. “A lot of them are the same guys, but they didn’t know any better. They were young and didn’t know what it takes to win.”

Those young players have now turned into veteran leaders responsible for making sure the team doesn’t revert back to those old habits when situations like Saturday’s arise.

After the game Saturday, senior quarterback Rakeem Cato credited the experienced leaders on the team with making sure the Herd came out ready to play in the second half.

“I think the leadership did a great job at halftime of talking to the team, not letting them get their heads down and just coming out and putting on a great performance in the second half,” Cato said.

Holliday said in his first few seasons at Marshall the Herd found ways to lose instead of ways to win. To change that culture, he said the Herd had to learn how to win.

“To get that culture back where we want it, it’s all about winning games and finding ways to get that done,” Holliday said. “[The culture] turned about halfway through the season a year ago and has continued this year.”

With veteran leadership and a winning culture, the Herd has survived two-thirds of the 2014 season unscathed and it is four games away from going undefeated for the first time since 1999 and just two years after going 5-7.

It’s amazing how things can change.

Shannon Stowers can be contacted at [email protected].