Herd football sticking to business during emotional week


In the lead up to the Marshall University football team’s sure-to-be emotional outing Saturday against Florida International University, the team is attempting to manage those emotions with a business-like approach coming off a triple-overtime loss to Middle Tennessee State University last weekend.

Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said his team has embraced the onset of emotion bound to occur Saturday, but also maintained the game is crucial to the team’s goal of achieving a second-consecutive conference championship.

“I think that all takes care of itself,” Holliday said. “Our kids have done a pretty good job balancing emotions. It’s also a big game because our goals and dreams are still out there. We have to take care of business this week and find a way to win this game, which is going to be an extremely tough game for us because FIU has done a great job.”

Holliday said he is expecting FIU to present a formidable challenge to the Herd, citing the team’s sense of urgency and its coaching acumen.

“(FIU head coach) Ron Turner has done a tremendous job with that team,” Holliday said, “and they’re playing for bowl eligibility, so we know that we’re going to get their best shot like we do everybody else, and it’s a big game because of that.”

The contest Saturday looms large in the conference standings as the Herd sit one game back from the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers with two games to play, including a head-to-head matchup with the Hilltoppers in the final week of the season Nov. 27.

As a result of the future head-to-head matchup the Herd still it controls its own destiny in terms of reaching the conference championship game, a message senior wide receiver said was reiterated after last weekend’s loss.

“We still control our destiny,” Reaves said. “The team meeting on Sunday, that’s when Doc really explained we still have a chance; it’s not over for us, we just got to keep taking care of business.”

Holliday said the tough triple-overtime loss has generated bitterness throughout the locker room due to the players’ competitiveness and passion for the game; a quality he said thinks will reflect in the players’ work ethic as the season winds down.

“What you saw in that locker room after the game, what I saw was a really good thing,” Holliday said. “If I see a bunch of guys with smiles on their faces, I’m pissed off because they don’t care. These kids care. It’s important to them that they get back and get to work because the only way you’re going to get that feeling out of your stomach is to go back to work and find a way for that to never happen again.”

“We know how we felt in the locker room and we know how we still feel now,” true freshman quarterback Chase Litton said. “This team wants to be conference champions; you can tell by after the game in that locker room just the crickets, just the ache in the stomach. But as soon as we got on that plane, we knew that we have to bounce back. Doc said it perfectly, he said ‘we’re not going to let this loss beat us twice.’”

Saturday’s game kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

Bradley Heltzel can be contacted at [email protected]