Holliday no stranger to Florida
HUNTINGTON — A trip to the state of Florida is nothing new for Marshall University football head coach Doc Holliday, who made his recruiting name in the state in nearly four decades of work there.
This week, however, Holliday will be making the trip as a head coach as the Thundering Herd (3-2) looks to start 2-0 in Conference USA for the second consecutive year in a 5 p.m. Saturday game at Florida Atlantic (2-4, 1-3).
“If you look at FAU and what they’ve done, they’re a very dangerous team,” Holliday said. “They’ve gone on the road and beat South Florida, who just went to Cincinnati and beat Cincinnati this past weekend.
They also went on the road and beat UAB. …
“Anytime you are located in Boca Raton, Fla., with a brand-new stadium and a great school, you’re going to have players. There’s a lot of players around there that are very athletic.”
Florida Atlantic will be a tough test for the Herd because of a solid pass defense and a quarterback who has lit up the statistical charts in the past few weeks.
FAU quarterback Jaquez Johnson is the C-USA Offensive Player of the Week after compiling 404 yards of total offense in a 37-23 win over Rice, which was the Owls’ first-ever C-USA victory.
Johnson, whose 54-yard run set up the game-clinching touchdown, was 23 of 36 passing for 299 yards while also rushing for 105 yards.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound quarterback has caught the attention of the Herd coaching staff.
“He’s had well over 60 carries in their last four games that he’s played, so he can not only throw it,” Holliday said. “He’s part of their running game and he throws it plenty well to beat you if you’re not prepared.”
In addition to speaking about the upcoming contest during his Tuesday news conference, Holliday made a couple of announcements.
One major announcement involved tackle Jordan Jeffries, who has an injury to his hip that has ended his playing career at Marshall. Jeffries made 15 career starts during his time with the Herd and was the backup to both Gage Niemeyer and Garrett Scott.
Holliday also announced this week’s game captains with a pair of returnees offensively and a pair of newcomers defensively.
Offensively, center Chris Jasperse is a captain for the fourth straight week while quarterback Rakeem Cato also will serve as captain as he returns close to home.
On the defensive side, linebacker Neville Hewitt makes his first appearance at captain, along with defensive end Ra’Shawde Myers.
Hewitt, a 6-2, 220-pound junior, is leading the Herd in tackles with 34.
Myers, who has stepped into a starting role since the injury to Jeremiah Taylor, has elevated his game and added a huge interception in last week’s win over UTSA.
The two newcomers on the defensive side make the seventh and eighth players to serve as defensive captains this season.
“What’s great about that defensive unit is the amount of leadership we’ve got on that unit now,” Holliday said. “It’s good to see and it’s one of the reasons we are playing so well.”
The matchup pits Conference USA’s top two total defenses. Marshall is allowing 278 yards per game while Florida Atlantic gives up 359 yards per game.
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