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Holliday disappointed in season so far

Oct. 10, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- With a bye week coming at exactly the halfway point of Marshall University's football season, head coach Doc Holliday isn't happy with what he's seen so far.

Sure, his offense is one of the best in the country, statistically, but on the other side of that coin, his defense is one of the worst. Marshall is 2-4 (1-1 in Conference USA) and was unable to close out tight games at home against Ohio and Tulsa.

"We're not near where we should be," Holliday said at a Tuesday press conference. "My standards and expectations are extremely high, and for us to get where we've got to go, we have to beat a team like Tulsa, who is one of the better teams in our league.

"That has to happen and it didn't happen. It's disappointing, and we have to go back to work and get better."

Marshall had the lead late in its Saturday matchup with Tulsa, but struggled on defense -- giving up big plays on third and fourth downs -- and with turnovers.

The bye week, Holliday said, is a time for the Herd to focus on its problems and get ready for the second half of the season.

Marshall's next game is Oct. 20 at Southern Miss.

"It kind of comes at a great time," Holliday said. "We've got some guys we need to get healthy, which we'll do this week. We have to really focus the football team on getting better fundamentally and technique wise."

Holliday said the Thundering Herd's goal at the beginning of the season was to win the conference championship, and that hasn't changed. But the Herd's play has to elevate to make it a reality.

"For us to do that, we have to be able to line up against Tulsa at the end of the game and find ways to beat them," the coach said. "That didn't happen. We have to get better so that it does happen in the future."

Part of the problem on defense is nagging injuries, Holliday said.

Some of the starters on defense have been held out of contact during practice, which limits their growth when it comes to making plays in an actual game, Holliday said.

"They haven't been able to go through tackling drills and those things that they need to do to become better players," he said. "It's hard. You get better by practicing. Live tackling. Actually doing it. When you're standing out there in red (no contact) jerseys all the time and tagging a guy off, unfortunately, the game isn't played where you can tag a guy off.

"When you're not able to tackle and work on fundamentals and techniques you regress as a player."

Holliday said he hopes the bye week will help with that, and the defense will improve.

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