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5 Points to Ponder

Nov. 14, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

1. What problems does Tulsa pose?

Tulsa is still very similar to the team that won the Conference USA championship last season. Running back Trey Watts is among one of the best in C-USA, but turnover problems and lack of production at key positions (offensive line and secondary) have hindered the Golden Hurricane. There is still plenty of talent around to make life miserable for the Herd -- especially considering how poorly Marshall has played on the road.

2. What does Marshall have to do to overcome recent road struggles?

The Herd needs to take care of the football -- something it has struggled with in road contests this season. The team also will need to get off the field on third down, which plagued them in the loss to Middle Tennessee and last year's home setback against the Golden Hurricane. For Marshall, it's just as much mental as it is physical, though. The Herd has to take the same confidence and swagger on the road as they bring at home. It starts with game-week demeanor, which has been good on the short week.

3. How will the Herd look to earn the victory?

Marshall's rushing attack has been a major part of the success of the offense over the past three weeks and all three running backs -- Kevin Grooms, Essray Taliaferro and Steward Butler -- have a lot of confidence. Look for the Herd to try and churn out drives with the rushing game to open up the passing game for Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato. The success of the rushing attack has just as much to do with Cato not being sacked in two games as does the pass protection.

4. Will the short turnaround be a critical component of the contest?

Not really. While short weeks are hard for any team -- especially when a team is traveling -- Marshall should be relatively fresh for the game. UAB posed no real threat on Saturday, Cato never was knocked down and reserves started filtering in midway through the third quarter with the game in hand. The Herd should actually be more rested than a Tulsa team who traveled back from East Carolina on Saturday after a demoralizing loss to the Pirates.

5. What is the key for a victory?

The Herd needs to overcome itself, really. Most of the road woes the team has experienced have been self-inflicted mistakes and missed opportunities. Whether it was the unforced turnovers of Ohio, the lack of execution against Virginia Tech or the dropped interceptions in key situations at Middle Tennessee, each loss featured a time when the Herd could make a play and failed. That's the difference between being a good team and a great team. Marshall has shown glimpses of greatness, but it has to occur on the road in an adverse environment to be validated.

--Grant Traylor

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