Grant Traylor: Herd players sorry they let the Marshall fans down
Marshall University football players were struggling to find words to describe what last Saturday's 54-17 loss to UCF felt like once they came to grips with the defeat.
They could have been selfish and been sulking for themselves because a shot at the Conference USA East Division crown was lost.
Instead, the players were more focused on the fans that left wet and dejected following the loss.
"The fan base here is behind us so much and we don't ever want to let them down," Marshall offensive guard John Bruhin said. "Putting on a bad performance like that hit us at the heart. We love the fans and we've got to get back to winning here."
Huntington is a unique town where Thundering Herd players become celebrities quickly.
When things are going well, it's like a constant celebration with the fans.
When the team is struggling, players said it's hard to walk around town and look those fans in the eye with a smile on their face.
During this current three-game home losing streak, players are hurting, and they know the town is, too.
"I know they hurt because we haven't gotten them a great win yet," Marshall wide receiver Tommy Shuler said. "I went on my social networks and asked to come out and support us against Memphis and I promise we won't lose for them again."
Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said he doesn't want the fans disappointed, but given the circumstances, he's happy they are because it means they still care about the program and the direction it's headed.
"I don't want to be anywhere where our fans don't care," Holliday said. "There are places where that happens. I don't want to be the head coach at one of those places. I want to be the head coach at somewhere where our fans are upset because we don't win. That's the way it should be."
This week, Marshall isn't just going out to win the football game to keep its bowl hopes alive.
It's also going out to win its fans back.
ARRINGTON OUT: Marshall linebacker Devin Arrington is out for the foreseeable future because of a knee injury he suffered against UCF.
Holliday confirmed the injury during Tuesday's press conference and said it's a time when others are going to have to step up.
"He's probably at least 2-3 weeks and then we'll see at that point," Holliday said.
COACHING CROSSROADS: When Marshall and Memphis meet, there will be a couple of familiar faces on the sidelines.
Marshall cornerbacks coach Lytrell Pollard was the cornerbacks coach at Memphis in 2008 and 2009.
Meanwhile, Memphis defensive line coach Tim Billings was a Marshall assistant coach from 1990 to 1999. Billings was defensive coordinator for the Herd during the 1999 season when Marshall went 13-0 and finished No. 10 in the final Associated Press poll. That team allowed just 10.5 points per game.
Grant Traylor is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter (@GrantTraylor).