Chuck Landon: Green vows to improve in red zone
TAMPA, Fla. - Isaiah Green has had enough.
Marshall University’s quarterback is tired of driving the Thundering Herd’s offense inside an opponent’s 20-yard line and coming away empty-handed.
Green is tired of watching touchdowns turn into field goals.
The redshirt freshman is tired of Marshall’s lack of efficiency in the red zone.
So, Green is doing something about it.
He’s putting it on his own shoulders.
“I’m definitely putting it on myself because I’m the leader,” said the 6-foot-2, 202-pound Fairburn, Georgia, native. “You feel me? So, when we get down there I feel like it’s my job - by any means - to make sure we get in the end zone.”
That hasn’t happened with nearly enough regularity. Marshall ranks a lowly No. 115 (out of 129 FBS programs) in red zone offense (76.9 percent) according to NCAA statistics. Actually, the Herd is tied with Central Michigan, which has a 1-11 record.
Marshall’s red zone offense also ranks next to last in Conference USA, ahead of only Western Kentucky.
So, what’s the problem?
“I don’t really feel like there is just one thing,” said Green. “I don’t feel like the play-calling is bad. I don’t feel like we execute bad. I don’t know. It’s just not clicking right now. I’ve just got to manage certain situations better, I feel like.
“I feel like if I do that, everything will get better down there in the red zone. In between the 20s (yard lines), we’ve moving the ball like it’s nothing. We’re just going up and down the field whenever we want to. But we’ve just got to lock in and focus in when we get down there that close. We have to turn those three points (field goals) into sevens (touchdowns).”
It has become an alarming problem lately. In Marshall’s last three games, the Herd is only 8-for-15 in the red zone for a mediocre 53.3 percent. Worse yet, MU has scored just five touchdowns in the red zone in 15 chances.
So, that has to be Marshall’s priority heading into its Gasparilla Bowl matchup against South Florida at 8 p.m. Thursday in Raymond James Stadium.
“Sometimes it’s everybody not being on the same page,” said Green. “We’ve just got to focus a little bit more.”
It doesn’t take much to keep a team from scoring in the red zone. A penalty here, a missed block there, a wrong pass route anywhere is more than enough.
“Yeah, small stuff like that,” said Green. “It’s just small things that we really need to tighten up on and just focus in on because there’s a small margin for error.
“When we’re in the open field, it’s easy for us to get a penalty and come back with a big play on the very next play - 40, 50 yards downfield. But when you do that in the red zone, it’s a killer. It just kills drives.”
That leads to frustration which leads to even more ineffectiveness.
“It definitely gets frustrating, but it’s just football - you have to keep going,” said Green. “Eventually, it’s going to click for us. Eventually, we’re not going to be able to be stopped down there. We just have to keep working. Usually, any problem we have we just fix it within the next couple of weeks.
“I expect for that to be fixed going into this bowl game.”
Spoken like a man on a mission.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at email@example.com.