Herd to confront air attack
HUNTINGTON -- Marshall University's defensive players better keep their legs stretched on the Friday flight to Birmingham, Ala.
That's because Saturday, the back seven are certainly going to get quite the workout in a Conference USA football game at UAB.
Marshall (4-5, 3-2 Conference USA) meets UAB (2-7, 1-4) at 4:30 p.m., Saturday, in Legion Field. The telecast is on WVAH-11 and CSS (Huntington cable Ch. 68).
UAB quarterback Austin Brown likes to sling the ball around and he's not afraid to take chances down the field.
Expect him to test the Herd linebackers and secondary early and often.
"They're going to take shots," Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. "The quarterback has done a nice job at throwing it and they have some receivers that can go and get it."
Holliday described the UAB offensive unit as one of the most skilled he's seen and the Blazers feature several dynamic receivers who can make an impact.
Jackie Williams leads the receiving corps with 39 catches for 674 yards and a touchdown, but in Holliday's eyes, the big-play threat is Jamarcus Nelson.
Nelson missed the previous two games, but in his seven games played, he has 384 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 20.2 yards per catch.
To complicate matters, the Herd has been severely hindered because of injuries in the secondary.
Last week, the Herd had two cornerbacks play the entire game -- Derrick Thomas and Monterius Lovett. The interesting thing about those two is that neither practiced during game-week because they were battling their own ailments.
Yet, they manned up Saturday and went the distance. They will be expected to do the same this week, although it is likely Keith Baxter also returns to the mix.
With UAB possessing so many weapons, though, the play of the safeties and even linebackers with secondary experience -- especially Marshall's D.J. Hunter -- will be needed to slow down the passing attack led by Brown.
"I spotted a couple of good receivers on film and the quarterback likes his targets," Marshall safety Okechukwu Okoroha said. "(Brown) takes those chances. If he sees something he likes, he's throwing it. He's got a cannon for an arm, too. He's going to get the ball there. We've got to be ready."