Chuck Landon: More offense not always a good thing for Herd
There are three compelling statistics that are particularly relevant on this game day.
No. 1: Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato had the same total of incomplete passes (23) against Purdue a week ago as the Herd’s number of rushing attempts (23 carries for 95 yards).
No. 2: Cato has passed for 400 or more yards three times this season and Marshall has lost all three games.
No. 3: Although everyone is thrilled that Marshall’s offense is running 92.4 plays per game, they haven’t stopped to realize it’s a twin-edged sword. The fast-paced tempo has forced Marshall’s struggling defense onto the field for 83.8 plays per game.
The more the Herd passes, the less it runs the ball. The less it runs the ball, the more unbalanced the offense becomes. The more unbalanced the offense becomes, the more time the beleaguered defense spends on the field.
And what do those factors produce?
Defeat, defeat, defeat.
That’s why Marshall can’t fall into that trap when it hosts Tulsa at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, in Edwards Stadium.
Particularly since this is a “must-win” game. Yeah, I know coaches hate that term. But it doesn’t alter the reality that this is indeed a “must-win” game.
I mean, how many times has Marshall coach Doc Holliday waxed poetic that “all of Marshall’s hopes, dreams and goals are still in front of us?”
Well, it’s true. But it won’t be true anymore if Marshall loses to Tulsa.
A loss today would change the complexion of the rest of the season.That’s why the Herd can’t afford to get pass-happy and let the offense become one-dimensional. That’s why Marshall can’t allow its defense to spend another 84 plays on the field. That’s also why Marshall offensive coordinator Bill Legg, who calls the plays, can’t forget about the running game.
Speaking of forgetting, the Herd also can’t forget the humiliating, manhandling it took at the hands of Tulsa during a 59-17 loss last season.
Although Marshall allowed more points in a 63-28 loss to Houston, the Tulsa defeat was far worse.
Right, Aaron Dobson?
“It was worse,” said the senior wide receiver and co-captain. “Tulsa beat us up. They definitely beat us up ... offensive line, defensive line, they just beat us up.
“We definitely can’t let that happen here at home. It’s homecoming. So, I definitely feel like we’ve got something to prove. It’s a conference game, too, so no more losing. ... no more losing.”
Want more motivation?
How about the fact that Tulsa is one of only two Conference USA football programs that Marshall hasn’t defeated since joining the league in 2005? The other is UCF.
“And we’ve got them both here this season,” pointed out Dobson. “That’s why I’m ready for this game. I’ve got a chip on my shoulder. This is my last homecoming game, so I’m taking it personal.”
Every member of the Herd had better take it personally because otherwise all those hopes, dreams and goals will be gone.
“Everybody has to be ready,” said Dobson. “Everybody has to want it. Everybody has to go out there and play their heart out.
“It’s all conference games from here on out. So, if this team wants to be conference championship contenders, then we’ve got to play like it. We can’t lose. We can’t give any more games away.
“We’ve got to win-out.”
And it has to begin Saturday. Will it? Yes.
Marshall will win, 41-38.
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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