Chuck Landon: Doc resists defining it, but expect a shootout
All skate, everybody skate.
At least on paper, if not roller rinks, that is how Marshall's game against UAB at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. in Legion Field at Birmingham, Ala., projects.
It should be a shootout.
Every factor points in that direction.
I mean, these two Conference USA schools average a combined 954.1 yards total offense per game.
Nearly 1,000 yards!
And, defensively, Marshall and UAB combine to allow an average of 896.9 yards.
Nearly 900 yards!
It doesn't require an abacus to do that math.
That's why when I commented that this game had shootout written all over it to Doc Holliday at his weekly press conference Tuesday, Marshall's coach had trouble agreeing but even more difficulty disagreeing.
"I hope not," said Holliday, "but you're probably. ..."
Doc didn't want to admit that, of course. But, then, he danced all around the shootout projection.
"It does," he conceded. "Both offenses seem to be able to score some points. So, it's going to be important that we go in and play defense. We have to be able to get them stopped and get them off the field.
"Then, offensively we've got to score some points."
Good luck with the former, but the latter should be no problem.
And that's just fine and dandy with Chris Jasperse.
"When our offense is rolling, nobody can stop us," said Marshall's starting center. "And it's fun. It's exciting when every time we get the ball, just take it down the field and score.
"I love it. It shows what we can do as an offense. We score points. That's what we do. Our ultimate goal is to out-score the other team."
Which, unfortunately for Marshall, hasn't been quite the case. The prolific Herd offense is scoring 39.7 points per game, but the porous Marshall defense is yielding an average of 41.4 points.
That deficit explains Marshall's 4-5 record.
It also explains why Marshall's offense feels it needs to score on every possession.
"Absolutely," said Jasperse emphatically. "Every time we get the ball, we want to score. It doesn't always work out, but you know when you come back you have to say, 'Hey, look, this time we've got to score. We've got to get points on the board.'
"And not only scoring, but we've got to get our defense off the field. The other day we went three-and-out and were only on the field for 25 seconds. And our defense was right back out there after just coming off from an eight-play drive.
"That's huge. We've got to give our defense some rest."
But that rarely has happened in this offensive-oriented season.
"The problem is our three-and-outs are probably the fastest in the nation," reasoned Jasperse. "We'll go on 10- or 12-play drives and it still will only last about three minutes."
That's another reason the UAB game sets up as such a shootout. And, again, Marshall's offense doesn't mind that.
In fact, it's their mindset.
"Our goal in the offensive room is we have to score one more than what the defense gives up," said Jasperse. "So, it doesn't matter what we do. We just always have to score one more.
"I like it when we can out-score people like that. When people put 40-some points on us, we can get more than that. That's huge for our offense."
It's most likely going to be huge for Marshall on Saturday, much to a certain coach's chagrin. Imagine a guy named Doc Holliday not wanting a shootout.
Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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