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Andrew Ramspacher: Holliday says MU's offense similar to Southern Miss

Oct. 12, 2011 @ 12:24 AM

Take touchdown juggernaut Houston out of the picture and Southern Miss is your Conference USA football leader in scoring and total offense. Even if you leave the No. 25 Cougars alone, the Golden Eagles are still tops in C-USA in rushing O.

Now, close your eyes and imagine Marshall doing the same things.

It's difficult, right? Especially when the Thundering Herd is sitting at the bottom or near the bottom of almost every offensive statistical category through six games.

But, really, both teams aren't that far off from each other.

In terms of scheme. Not necessarily production.

Let MU head coach Doc Holliday explain.

"Our offense is very similar, as far as our philosophy goes, to Southern Miss," Holliday said. "And Southern Miss is 18th in America right now in total offense. A lot of that has to do with because they have a fourth-year quarterback, they have good skill kids. A lot of things go into that, but our offense, from a philosophical standpoint, is no different than what they do.

"We run the same plays. We run the same routes. Are we doing it perfect right now? No. We're not. We have to get better and we have to continue to work hard this week to get better."

Where Southern Miss has one of C-USA's top passers in senior Austin Davis, Marshall is now in a quarterback dilemma. Where Southern Miss has running back Kendrick Hardy and his 85.2 yards per game, Marshall has a pair of backs that doesn't combine for that total.

Similar philosophy, different personnel.

Lately, a lot of fire has been thrown at Herd co-offensive coordinator Bill Legg for his play-calling.

With A.J. Graham getting the starting QB nod over Rakeem Cato for this Saturday's 3 p.m. Homecoming game with Rice, Holliday said the game plan won't be altered.

"It doesn't," Holliday said. "I'm anxious to see how A.J. goes and plays. He's going to get his opportunity. It doesn't change anything."

CURRY UPDATE: Vinny Curry's status for Saturday's contest remains unknown.

The star senior defensive end is in his home state of New Jersey for the funeral of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer late Sunday evening.

"Vinny, I can't say if he will play or not at this point," Holliday said. "I know that they're making arrangements right now for the funeral.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Vinny. We're going to support Vinny on whatever he decides to do. He lost his mom, that's tough. But we got things set up to where we can get him back here afterwards. We'll se what happens.

"That's up to Vinny."

INJURIES: Junior receiver Aaron Dobson, still nursing a foot injury, held his own at UCF, making a team-best three catches for 33 yards.

"He's got to practice," Holliday said. "He's going to be better this week, I think. It's hard for a guy to go out and play on Saturdays and not do it during the week. And that's what you're getting into a little bit.

"At times, we've done some things there that hopefully he can get some practice time this week."

As for freshman safety D.J. Hunter, who starred in the spring but has yet to touch even the practice field in the fall because of a torn meniscus, Holliday said there is progress.

"He's going closer," Holliday said. "I don't know what the timeline is. I'd love to be able to sit and tell you he's going to play. He is practicing and he's going to go practice out there today (Tuesday).

"We just have to make the right decision from our doctors and our trainers. We can't set that kid back. I owe it to him as a head coach not to do that to him. ... I don't know if he'll play this week or not. We'll see how it goes."

LINEMAN COMMITS: Marshall added its seventh commitment to its class of 2012 on Tuesday as offensive lineman Cameron Dees of Seffner, Fla., made his verbal pledge, according to a report on ESPN.com. Dees is a 6-foot-1, 280-pound center who chose MU over Ohio, FIU, Delaware and Western Michigan.

BOOK SIGNING: Veteran sportswriter and Marshall graduate Craig T. Greenlee is the author of "November Ever After," a memoir that takes an up-close and personal look at the MU 1970 plane crash and its aftermath as seen through the eyes of those who were left behind.

The book is available at the Marshall University bookstore in Memorial Student Center.

Greenlee, a former Herd defensive back, will be at the bookstore for a signing session Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

M CLUB TAILGATE: Highlighted by a Young Thundering Herd 40-year reunion, the M Club will host a tailgate at 1 p.m., Saturday, at the M Club Pavilion. M Club members have free admission. Guests are $5.

QB CLUB: The Marshall Quarterback Club has an 11:30 a.m., Thursday, luncheon meeting at the Pullman Plaza Hotel. The cost is $12 for members and $15 for non-members.

Andrew Ramspacher is a sports reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or aramspacher@herald-dispatch.com.

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