Chuck Landon: Marshall needs to prove it can win on the road
TULSA, Okla. -- Chris Jasperse vividly remembers the last time he played in H.A. Chapman Stadium.
In fact, it blew him away.
"You know the wind there is pretty bad," said Marshall's standout center. "The last time I played there, it was the first game I've ever been in where we didn't kick the ball off.
"Either at halftime or the beginning.
"That was weird for me. They wanted to kick the ball off both times because they wanted to play the wind. So, that plays a big factor into it."
That's what Jasperse and his Marshall teammates have to look forward to when they take on the aptly named Tulsa Golden Hurricane at 7:30 p.m. Thursday here.
Welcome to the road.
"There are strategies and everything," said Jasperse. "This is where we really have to pick it up now. We've got one home game later down the road. But it's time to go on the road."
More to the point, it's time to win on the road. Marshall has a 6-3 record and all three losses have been in away games.
So, why the road woes?
"I just think it's going into somebody else's house," said Jasperse. "I don't know. We've had trouble recently on the road.
"That's where we've got to bow up now because we've got two road games. It's go time. And we have to win these two. We have to start by winning at Tulsa."
This one is all on the Herd. There was a strong contingent of Marshall fans at FAU and Middle Tennessee, but there won't be more than a handful here.
"No one is cheering for you," said MU running back Essray Taliaferro. "That's when it comes on you to be self-motivated to play your best.
"It's a real big us against them situation. ... it's us against the crowd. Especially when you go to a loud environment. You definitely have to zone them out and focus on your game plan and focus on you and focus on executing."
What happens when Marshall plays somewhere like Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee, FIU or UAB where there are small crowds and no game atmosphere?
"I would say that factors in, too," said Taliaferro. "But at the end of the day, it's all about us. That shouldn't matter. What should matter is going out there and executing and trying our best to get a victory."
Tommy Shuler couldn't agree more with the basic premise. But he disagrees with the lack of game atmosphere factor.
"It really isn't a big factor," said Marshall's star wideout. "We went to Rice and beat them and there were only about 200 people there. You just have to take care of business and not make too many mistakes."
Ah, there's the crux of the matter. Mistakes are magnified on the road.
"We can't make too many mistakes because normally on the road the home team has a great crowd advantage," said Shuler. "And not just the crowd. People play good at home because they feel like they're in their own backyard and feel like they have to win. So, playing on the road can be kind of tough.
"But if you take care of business, it can be just like a regular game."
That's what Marshall has to make this contest.
And I believe the Herd will.
MU will win, 38-17.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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