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Grant Traylor: Physical vibe for Saturday in Athens

Sep. 12, 2013 @ 12:42 AM

HUNTINGTON -- For the past few years, the stereotype has become that if a team runs a hyper-speed offense like the Herd does, that team is not a physical team.

The 2013 Marshall offense is looking to debunk that myth this weekend in their battle with Ohio.

"Just because we run fast and get lined up fast, that doesn't mean it's a vanilla offense," Marshall left tackle Gage Niemeyer said. "We'll line up and we'll punch people in the face. It's nice knowing that a usual offense runs 60 plays a game. We have another 30 plays a game where we line up and hit you in the mouth."

The physical mindset is one that might not have been seen from the team last season, but in the first two games of the year, it has been pounded -- literally -- into the opposition's minds.

Marshall has rushed for an average of 264 yards per game behind an offensive line that is pushing the pile to the tune of 5.5 yards per carry.

The team expects there to be a much-greater challenge posed this weekend when the Herd line is matched with Ohio's defensive front.

Ohio coach Frank Solich has based his program on being physical and seen great success in doing so.

It's an aspect that has the respect of Herd players.

"Their whole program is based on that," Marshall center Chris Jasperse said. "They are trying to be the toughest, the biggest and the baddest. We have to match that intensity and exceed it. That's how we're going to be successful running the ball."

Both Niemeyer and Jasperse agreed that as offensive linemen, their blood gets boiling a little more knowing the opponent comes into the game thinking they are the more physical team.

"It's awesome because it's a lot of competition and that's what we're here for -- to compete," Jasperse said. "That makes it so much fun to go out there and hit someone, knowing that they will come back the next play and try to do the same to you."

So where does Ohio rank on the physical barometer?

"They are going to try to run the ball down our throat and we're going to try and run the ball down their throat," Jasperse said. "We're coming off two wins and we've got these guys coming up. This is it. This is our test. We're going to war this week."

GROOMS' RETURN LIKELY: Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said during his Tuesday press conference that running back Kevin Grooms is likely to make his return to the Herd this weekend.

Grooms, who missed much of the preseason due to a high-ankle injury, saw limited action in the season-opening win over Miami (Ohio) before Holliday decided to hold him out of the Gardner-Webb contest.

MITCHELL LIKELY DONE: Holliday added linebacker Billy Mitchell's career is likely done after Mitchell sustained a serious concussion in the preseason.

"He was out three months a year ago with a concussion," Holliday said. "To have the concussion that he had this year, I would recommend, to be honest, that he didn't play. It's not worth it on his part.

"The quality of life you are going to have after football is more important. If he was my son, I sure wouldn't want him back out there with everything that's going on with these concussions."

OHIO FEELS THE THUNDER: According to Ohio football beat writer Jason Arkley of the Athens Messenger, the Bobcats' regularly-scheduled Wednesday practice was derailed due to lingering storms in the area surrounding Ohio University.

The practice was rescheduled for 6 p.m.

Like Marshall, Ohio University is in the process of constructing an indoor practice facility on campus.

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

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