HUNTINGTON — Last weekend in Charlotte, Marshall football’s world got turned upside-down with a disappointing loss to the 49ers.
The 24-13 loss took Marshall out of control of its own destiny in Conference USA’s East Division and left the Herd in a situation where they had to regroup mentally in preparation for FIU.
This week, Marshall is looking to return to normalcy — winning — in its world, but it won’t be easy against an FIU team that is coming off its program’s biggest win in history.
For Marshall to restore balance in its own realm, the Herd must restore balance on the offensive side of the football.
“It’s huge,” Marshall offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey said. “Our whole offense is predicated on run-pass, throw when they think we’re going to run and all that type stuff. We cannot get to a one-dimensional operation.”
As weather conditions deteriorated, so too did the Herd offense.
Marshall became one-dimensional as a running team and Charlotte took full advantage, loading up against the run and winning one-on-one battles in the pass game.
Conversely, the 49ers adjusted well and were able to balance out their offense with deep shots to wide receivers and underneath throws that kept the Herd spaced, which opened up the run in the second half.
It was a lesson for Marshall in what to do once inclement weather becomes a factor.
“It’s important that we get back to work there,” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. “It’s hard to be one-dimensional and we were a little bit. We have to get back to being able to do both (run and pass).”
Coming off a week in which Marshall wide receivers had just one total catch — that coming in the game’s final minute, Cramsey said getting them involved early is pivotal to re-establishing a rhythm within the offense.
That task becomes harder when factoring in an FIU defense that is stingy against the pass.
The veteran secondary of the Panthers is 15th in FBS in pass defense, allowing just 186.5 passing yards per game while also having 11 interceptions, which is tied for 25th.
FIU’s pass defense was also strong last season when Marshall went down to Miami and upset the Panthers, who led the East Division at the time.
On Marshall’s first drive, the Herd ran six plays — all pass plays — and Isaiah Green was on target, completing five of six before finding Tyre Brady in the end zone on a 16-yard touchdown to set the tone.
Cramsey said a fast start for the receivers is critical again if the Herd is to see success against FIU’s defense.
“It’s huge to mix it up early in the game and get tight ends and receivers — they are all the same room right now for the most part — get those guys involved early, get Isaiah involved early and that type of stuff,” Cramsey said. “Then, usually, people start clearing out the box once we start completing passes and getting some stuff down-field.”
With weather again expected to be in the mix (early forecasts have Saturday with an 80 percent chance of rain), it won’t take long to see if the Herd has washed away the mistakes of last week.