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Chuck Landon: Marshall struggles with extra time off

Sep. 28, 2013 @ 11:24 PM

It’s like a week-long day off.

That’s what happens when Marshall’s football program has a bye week.

And that was the case last week.

After losing to Virginia Tech, 29-21, in triple overtime on Sept. 21, the Herd had 14 days before hosting UTSA at 2 p.m., Saturday, in Edwards Stadium.

Fourteen days.

That means Marshall has two weeks to fix the problems which led to consecutive losses to Ohio and the Hokies. Some of the ailments are health related. Some are strategy adjustments or the lack thereof. Some are game decisions. Some are personnel problems.

The bottom line is Marshall has a 14-day grace period before it embarks on its Conference USA schedule.

It appears like perfect timing, doesn’t it?

But is it really?

No.

At least, not lately.

Since joining C-USA in 2005, anytime Marshall has had more than the normal week of preparation in between regular-season games the Herd’s record is an appalling 3-18.

Yes, 3-18.

I know, I know.

It sounds ludicrous. It seems inconceivable. It flies in the face of any logic.

Given extra preparation time, extra time to rest and heal and extra time to make adjustments, a reasonable expectation would be an 18-3 record.

Instead, it’s reversed.

Why?

I don’t know. Perhaps, the bye week breaks continuity and rhythm. Maybe the time isn’t well spent. Or maybe it feels too much like a vacation.

Those are just guesses.

But the fact remains Marshall is 2-8 at home and 1-10 on the road during the last eight seasons anytime the Herd has more than a week in between games.

It all began in 2005 during Mark Snyder’s first season as Marshall’s head coach. There were nine days to get ready for Kansas State at home, but the Herd still lost, 21-19. Next, 14 days before a road game at UCF that ended in a 23-13 loss. Then, there were 10 days before a 27-24 overtime loss to Southern Miss in Edwards Stadium. And, finally, 11 days to prepare for a home game against East Carolina, resulting in a 34-29 loss.

That seemed to set a tone.

In 2006, Marshall lost a home game to UCF, 23-22, despite 11 days to prepare. Then, there were 10 days before a 31-21 loss at SMU.

The next three seasons it was more of the same. The Herd went 0-3 in extra-preparation games in 2007, 1-2 in 2008 and, finally, 0-2 in 2009. Snyder ended his Marshall coaching career with a 1-13 record in games that involved additional preparation time.

Then, the Doc Holliday coaching era began.

In 2010, Marshall was 0-4 in these games. The Herd lost at home to WVU, 24-21 in overtime (eight days); at Bowling Green, 44-28, (eight days); home to UCF, 35-14 (11 days); and at East Carolina, 37-10 (10 days).

Next, in 2011, MU was pummeled at Tulsa, 59-17, despite having 14 days to prepare. But the Herd beat East Carolina, 34-27 (nine days) at home.

Then, in 2012, Marshall routed Southern Miss on the road, 59-24, after a full bye week.

So far, Holliday is 2-5 in these contests. The good news, however, is Marshall has won its last two games involving extra preparation time.

That recent trend needs to continue against UTSA on Saturday.

And if it does?

Maybe then we can put that horrific 3-18 record in the rear-view mirror.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at  clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

 

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