Grant Traylor: O'Leary will send Knights running right at Herd
If ever a football program’s offense embodied its head coach, it’s UCF.
Coach George O’Leary doesn’t waste words or effort. He stays even-keeled whether things are going well or poorly for the Knights and he brings an intimidating aura into a room when he speaks.
The UCF offense acts much the same way.
There isn’t much flash or flair or deception.
They are going to line up and come right at you, and if you don’t like it, they’ll do it some more.
“Their mentality is ‘We’re going to come in and bully you guys,’” Marshall defensive end Alex Bazzie said. “With us being here at our house, we’ve got to protect the ‘M’.”
UCF visits Marshall for an 8 p.m., Saturday, game in Joan C. Edwards Stadium that is televised on the CBS Sports Network (Huntington cable Ch. 174).
O’Leary’s team features a terrific stable of running backs, led by Latavius Murray who returned to the starting lineup last week against Memphis and rushed for 192 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-17 victory.
Running backs Storm Johnson and Brynn Harvey, who rushed for a career-high against Marshall last year, also have the ability to break the will of the opposing defense while running behind an experienced line that has started every game together this season.
No matter what a team might do to defend the Knights, UCF’s offense seldom ventures outside of its norm of smashmouth football.
“It fires you up a bit because what they are saying is that they are more physical than you and that they can just run the ball when they want,” Marshall captain and defensive end Jeremiah Taylor said. “As a D-lineman, you take offense to that. You have to hit them back and let them know it’s not going to go how they think.”
GROOMS JOINS AWARD LIST: College Football Performance Awards named Marshall’s Kevin Grooms to the National Freshman Performer of the Year Watch List.
Grooms is tied for fifth in C-USA in touchdowns with seven and leads Marshall with six rushing touchdowns. His 71.8 rushing yards per game is good for sixth in the conference.
He joined UAB quarterback Austin Brown as the lone C-USA honorees on the list.
HERD TAILGATE: The Marshall Maniacs and the Marshall University Student Government Association are hosting a tailgate from 4 to 7 p.m., Saturday, on the practice football field next to the weight room.
Fat Patty’s is sponsoring the tailgate, which will be staffed by Sodexho. The first 100 students attending get a free burger from Fat Patty’s.
Fat Patty’s is also providing 300 wings with three different flavors while Sodexho will cater more than 200 hot dogs, two side dishes and cold beverages.
Alcohol will not be provided, or tolerated at the tailgate.
Admission is free from Marshall University students with their student I.D. and a valid “901” student number.
Grant Traylor is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter (@GrantTraylor).
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