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One-on-one battles crucial for Herd

October 11, 2018

Marshall's Kereon Merrell (5) defends against Middle Tennessee wide receiver Tavonn Salter (86) during a C-USA football game on Oct. 5 at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — Football is considered the ultimate team sport with 11 guys on each side of the ball trying to work as one unit.

If one part of that equation falters, it signals failure for the unit, which is what Marshall University football head coach Doc Holliday said his team ran into during last week’s loss to Middle Tennessee.

“We had opportunities,” Holliday said. “You think of that game a week ago and, it wasn’t like they weren’t covered. We had guys there that did a nice job as far as technique and coverage-wise. You just have to make a play at some point. Those (Middle Tennessee) kids on Friday night made plays and ours didn’t.”

As the Thundering Herd (3-2, 1-1 Conference USA) Herd moves forward to a 3:30 p.m. Saturday matchup with Old Dominion University (1-5, 0-3) in Norfolk, Virginia, Holliday said the emphasis is on completing the task — especially on defense.

“It’s going to be critical that we do it against these guys because these guys are going to have a lot of opportunities now,” Holliday said. “If you go back and watch those (last) three games, you’ll

see where they throw up a lot of 50-50 balls and we’re going to have to make our share of them.”

Marshall safety Malik Gant said reviewing video of Friday’s loss to Middle Tennessee showed the secondary what their head coach was describing.

“Just execution and being more disciplined in the 50-50 balls was the (biggest) thing out of all,” Gant said. “Throughout the whole night — just like the N.C. State game, we had balls that could’ve gone our way or could’ve went their way. Really, almost all the balls went their way and, when things like that happen, you can’t get a win.”

Marshall linebacker Chase Hancock went a step further, saying that it isn’t just on the secondary. It’s on every one-on-one battle on either side of the football.

“If you look, the last couple of games, that’s what the game has come down to — those 50-50 balls or tackles in the open field or whatever,” Hancock said. “Those are the plays that have to be made.”

The feel of Marshall’s contest with Old Dominion should have a bit of a desperate feel for both teams.

Marshall knows another loss likely would eliminate the Herd from any thought of winning the C-USA East Division and potentially playing for a league title. Old Dominion knows another loss likely ends any hopes they have of making a bowl game.

That sense of desperation is going to play out on the field into a battle of who wants it more.

“It’s like that every time that we play against them,” Hancock said. “I don’t expect anything less.”

MARSHALL (3-2, 1-1) AT OLD DOMINION (1-5, 0-3)

WHEN: 3:30 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: S.B. Ballard Stadium, Norfolk, Va.

TV: Stadium

RADIO: WDGG 93.7-FM, ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM

HERD OL MOLLETTE OUT FOR SEASON

Marshall head coach Doc Holliday announced Tuesday that starting right guard Alex Mollette is out for the year with a leg injury.

Mollette started in the Thundering Herd’s first four games before missing last week against Middle Tennessee.

Mollette is a redshirt sophomore, but the fact that he only played in four games means should he unexpectedly miss another portion of a future season because of injury he would likely be eligible for a sixth-year.

The Suwanee, Ga., native has 10 starts in his career.

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