Chuck Landon: Marshall runs out of second chances
Don't look now, but Marshall's degree of difficulty for reaching bowl eligibility just climbed off the charts.
Having to win out was already tough enough.
Granted, needing a victory over Houston at noon, Saturday, in Edwards Stadium is no daunting challenge.
The Cougars match Marshall's 4-6 record, have been clobbered in consecutive losses to East Carolina and Tulsa, never have won in Huntington and, again like the Herd, haven't defeated an opponent with a winning record this season.
But, next is a Thanksgiving visit to Greenville, N.C., for a regular-season finale against surprising East Carolina, which should be 7-4 by then.
Now, that is a formidable task.
But wait. It just got worse. Peruse Marshall's results game by game and see what jumps off the page, screen or iPad.
The Herd doesn't have a winning streak this season.
Of any kind.
Not even of the modest two-game variety.
That's right, Marshall hasn't won consecutive games all year. But, now, the Herd has to find a way or stay home for the holidays.
"That's what we've been talking about," said center Cam Dees. "It's no mystery. We've been talking about it in our team meetings that we need to put a streak together and this would be the best time to do it."
Best time? No, it's the only time. It's now or never.
"It is kind of a do-or-die situation," agreed Dees.
Is it ever.
Win out or spend an entire off-season trying to figure out what went wrong.
So, just exactly why has it been so difficult for this team to win back-to-back games?
"That's the answer we're all looking for," said Dees. "Our coaches seem to change something every week to try to fix it. But we haven't been able to quite get it fixed yet. But I hope we can now."
Tommy Shuler believes the problem is complacency.
"I feel like once we get one win, we get relaxed," said the slot receiver. "Every time we win, we relax. We relax and just think we're going to win. I feel like we went out for the UAB game underestimating them. We felt like they were going to give us the win.
"We didn't go out like we did against Southern Miss and Memphis. ... knowing that we had to play hard and that we had to get a win. We went out there flat and in the second half we tried to pick it up, but we ran out of time."
Well, now, Marshall is really running out of time. With its back to the wall, the Herd has to muster two firsts: win consecutive games for the first time this season and beat an opponent with a winning record for the first time this year.
Can that happen?
"I just feel like we did it last year. ... we played under pressure," said Shuler. "We've just got to play hard. Play hard like we played the second half against Purdue. Play hard like we played the second half of this last game."
It's going to take something else that would be a first this season, a complete effort.
"It's going to take consistent work ethic," said Dees. "Everybody pulling together for a full-team game. Having a good effort as a team, not just one unit here and one unit there.
"If we put it all together, you'll see a nice winning streak to end this season."
Wouldn't that be a pleasant surprise?
Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.