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Marshall is doing the little things

Sep. 11, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Last week, Marshall running back Steward Butler enjoyed a banner day with a 151-yard, three-score performance.

But his highlight run of the day -- a 46-yard score -- provided one of the many reasons that the Herd has been thundering through opponents over the first two weeks of the season.

On the play, offensive tackle Gage Niemeyer was supposed to block the defensive end, but he was able to get the end down quickly.

Niemeyer instinctively ran down-field and demolished the only thing standing between Butler and the end zone -- Gardner-Webb safety Lonnie Johnson.

Johnson froze for a split-second to try and get Butler to commit one way or the other, but Niemeyer steam-rolled the free safety five yards back and Butler waltzed into the end zone.

Was Johnson the man Niemeyer was assigned to block? Nope.

But after getting his block, he decided to go after one more on the play.

It's that commitment to doing the little things that has the Herd outscoring the opposition 107-14 on the season.

"It comes down to a mindset," Niemeyer said. "You have to know that just doing your job isn't enough. You have to go above and beyond. I should make a block, but if I have the ability to make a block, run down-field and make another block, that's what I have to do. If everyone gets that mentality -- which it seems like it has been -- then we are going to do really well this year."

Wide receiver Tommy Shuler, who was named a captain for this week, said seeing Niemeyer's down-field block got everyone hyped and opened everyone's eyes as well.

"When you see an O-lineman beating you down-field to make that block, that's telling you something," Shuler said. "They are trying to make a block and we're trying to make those big blocks, too, and that just shows you that we could be a great team."

In addition to those blocks, it has been about finishing plays, which Marshall has done well. The Herd hasn't just tipped passes or forced fumbles, they've finished out the play and jumped on the ball to give the offense a short field with which to work.

It's all about hunger and desire -- and doing the little things right.

Niemeyer made no bones about how important those little things are to winning football.

He used 2012 -- and the Herd's 27-24 loss to Ohio last season -- as examples.

"It would've been different," Niemeyer said. "But our whole season would've been different if we had focused on those little things. We're coming together as a team, we have a great defense and having offense, defense and special teams all focusing on those little things to help the team, it's helped a lot."

VIRGINIA TECH GAME: As announced on Monday, the Marshall-Virginia Tech contest at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg on Sept. 21 will be a noon kickoff.

The definitive station it will be shown on has not been confirmed and it will be decided after this weekend's games. The game will be shown on either ESPNU, ESPNews or ESPN3.

Grant Traylor covers Marshall football for The Herald-Dispatch. He can be reached by email at gtraylor@herald-dispatch.com or by phone at 304-526-2860. Follow him on Twitter @GrantTraylor.

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