What MU fans missed at the Joan
Pssssst, want to know a secret?
Here it is.
There were actually several interesting aspects to Marshall’s 30-13 win over Charlotte Saturday.
The unfortunate part is not nearly enough people were sitting in Joan C. Edwards Stadium to witness those aspects. What a shame. Particularly since the most intriguing events occurred in the second half when only about 15,000 hardy souls remained after a halftime exodus.
Sure, it was cold.
Sure, it was blustery.
Sure, I was sitting in a heated press box.
But that’s the inherent nature of football. It is a cold weather, outdoor sport. Cold. Cold. Cold. Those are cold, hard facts. Be that as it may, since I’m warm that means I’m feeling generous, so here are some of those interesting aspects.
• Redshirt freshman running back Brenden Knox stole the show.
Never heard of him? Join the club. It included Charlotte head coach Brad Lambert, who commented after the game that “I know who he is now.”
Knox is a 6-foot, 209-pound redshirt freshman who gains ground like a backhoe. After getting his first career carry in the second quarter, Knox dominated the second half by rushing for 113 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown burst, on 21 carries.
“Nobody runs the ball on that defense (ranked No. 3 against the run nationally) like we did in the third quarter,” said Doc Holliday, veteran Marshall coach. “Knox had 100 yards by himself in the second half. There’s going to be a lot of carries in his future.”
• The pendulum swung on time of possession in the third quarter.
At halftime, Charlotte was dominating this all-important statistic by a whopping 20:22 to only 9:38 for Marshall. But in the third quarter the Herd flipped the script, leading 10:25 to only 4:35 for the 49ers.
That broke the game open.
• Marshall played its best third quarter of the season while completely dominating Charlotte.
MU outscored Charlotte 17-3; had 167 yards total offense; ran 26 plays to the 49ers’ 10; rushed for 93 yards; and averaged 6.4 yards per play.
Meanwhile, Marshall’s defense was holding Charlotte to only 2 yards total offense, minus-2 yards rushing, 1-for-5 passing for four yards and a microscopic 0.2 yards per play.
There’s dominance and, then, there’s Marshall stellar performance in the third quarter.
“Our team came out and played well in the second half,” said Holliday.
That’s an understatement.
• Quarterback Isaiah Green didn’t throw an interception.
That hadn’t happened since Marshall’s season opening 35-28 win at Miami (Ohio). The next week, the redshirt freshman tossed an interception in a win over Eastern Kentucky. Then, Green threw a pair of picks in a loss to N.C. State. Next, he was intercepted three times in a narrow win at Western Kentucky.
Then, after missing the next three games because of a knee injury, Green came off the bench during the loss to Southern Miss last week and threw his seventh interception of the season.
But he had a clean performance against Charlotte, completing 15 of 25 passes for 178 yards with a touchdown.
• All this happened despite MU being a bit devastated injury-wise.
Running backs Tyler King and Keion Davis didn’t dress for the Charlotte game. Neither did starting linebacker Artis Johnson or defensive tackle Malik Thompson.
But thanks to Knox and a domineering defense that notched six sacks, the injuries had no impact.
Now, everybody is all caught up.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.