MU has no excuses, only mistakes
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- There were no excuses this time.
The only other time Marshall lost to UAB here in Legion Field it was because a fumbled kickoff led to poor field position and the Thundering Herd coaching staff still ran a scripted double-reverse out of its own end zone resulting in a safety.
The play-call lives in Herd infamy.
That's because it provided the final margin in the 23-21 loss to the Blazers during the 2008 season. It had been Marshall's only defeat in the Conference USA series since joining the league in 2005.
Until Saturday night, that is.
But this time there was no ill chosen play to blame, no poor decision to point to, no easy answer for a defeat that defies explanation.
Yet, incomprehensibly, Marshall still found a way to lose Saturday to UAB, 38-31,before 11,981 fans at Legion Field.
"It's obvious that we made too many mistakes in the first half," said Marshall head coach Doc Holliday.
Holliday was referring to a stunning 24-7 halftime deficit.
"UAB created issues for us in the first half that we couldn't handle," he said, after watching Marshall's record fall to 4-6. "We weren't blocking and we weren't making the plays we had to make.
"The second half we made those plays."
By then, it was too late.
But who knows? Maybe a double-reverse would have worked in the first half.
WAS THAT MARK SNYDER?: In the lobby of Marshall's team hotel, the Birmingham Marriott, on Saturday morning?
Yes, it was.
The former Marshall head coach and current Texas A&M defensive coordinator dropped by to renew acquaintances and wish the Herd luck before coaching his Aggies defense against the University of Alabama.
That means Snyder went 1-1 on Saturday.
His luck didn't rub off on the Herd, but it certainly worked against the Crimson Tide as Texas A&M upset No. 1 ranked Alabama, 29-24, at Bryant-Denny Stadium in nearby Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Congratulations to Snyder.
PERSONNEL MOVES: The offensive line, which has resembled a patchwork quilt lately, added a few different squares against UAB.
True freshman Cam Dees got his first starting assignment of the year at center, as usual center Chris Jasperse shifted to starting right guard. Garrett Scott, who started at right guard last week, moved to right tackle replacing Gage Niemeyer.
Then, Alex Schooler started at left guard in place of Josh Lovell. Right guard John Bruhin didn't take a single snap for the second consecutive game.
Defensively, Jermaine Holmes reprised his starting role at middle linebacker after a three-game absence with Billy Mitchell moving to weak-side linebacker in place of Deon Meadows, who had replaced the injured Devin Arrington.
NOT SO HOME ALONE: Ken Smith has had a roller-coaster ride of a season, health-wise.
First, the junior college transfer defensive tackle missed all of preseason camp and the first six games of the season with a lower back injury requiring surgery.
But, then, in Smith's first week back in action, the 6-foot-3, 288-pound junior actually started in Marshall's 59-24 win over Southern Miss in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Then, came another dip.
Smith didn't start but played in the Herd's next two games against UCF and, then, against Memphis last week, accumulating four tackles in those three games.
But here against UAB on Saturday?
Smith didn't even make the trip.
Joining him as a noticeable absentee was reserve safety Corie Wilson. That's noteworthy because it left Marshall with only three safeties. The list included starting strong safety Dom LeGrande, starting free safety Okechukwu Okoroha (who is playing with a broken right hand) and backup safety Derek Mitchell.
That means Marshall is getting alarmingly thin across the board in the secondary. Besides the safety positions, Marshall has serious injury problems at the cornerbacks.
Starter Derrick Thomas was held out of contact during practice, but as usual started against UAB. Fellow starter Monterius Lovett, who made the trip to UAB despite not practicing due to a foot injury this week, was replaced by Keith Baxter in the starting lineup. Baxter sat out the Memphis game last week with an injury.
But behind that trio?
Well, there's a reason walk-on cornerbacks Ardy Holmes and Derek Robinson made the trip here to Birmingham, Ala.
DOBSON INACTIVE: As expected, Marshall senior wide receiver Aaron Dobson didn't play against UAB.
He was on the sideline wearing his No. 3 jersey and game pants, but wasn't wearing pads. Dobson was injured on the first play of the Memphis game last week, after making a 5-yard catch.
He is sidelined with an injury to his right knee. It isn't believed to be serious.