HUNTINGTON — Marshall senior offensive lineman Will Ulmer has seen it before.
So, too, has Marshall senior defensive back Nazeeh Johnson.
Those veterans players have been at Marshall long enough to experience some of the program’s lowest lows in recent memory — that coming in the form of a 2016 season in which Marshall was thought to be among the favorites in Conference USA, only to see early adversity decimate team chemistry en route to a 3-9 mark.
To this day, they remember exactly what that looked and felt like.
“Nobody ever wants to talk about it, but it was a really bad year for the Herd,” Ulmer said. “I’ve seen some ups and downs in my time and we’ve dealt with a lot of adversity. I think it gives me a good opportunity to be a leader and to step up. You look to your brother and say, ‘Come on, man. Let’s hold your head up and let’s get one.’”
The memories of what happened during that 2016 season are still etched in their brains. It isn’t something they want to relive.
“When I was here in ‘16, when we started losing, everybody started falling apart,” Johnson said. “We started pointing fingers at what the offense could’ve done better, what the defense could’ve done better, coaching here and there.”
It was an ugly situation internally that played out externally with big losses — including the Herd’s lone loss in its history to Old Dominion — coming during that season.
Johnson and Ulmer each were intent in saying the Herd’s current situation — a three-game losing streak — isn’t like 2016. They are intent on keeping it that way, too.
Johnson has been adamant about pointing out to the team that it is just 11 points away from being undefeated despite all the mistakes they’ve made to this point.
That is a quiet source of confidence that counters the skid’s negativity as the Herd looks to host the Monarchs at 2 p.m. on Saturday for Homecoming.
“Right now, what I see is everybody coming together,” Johnson said. “We don’t have no finger-pointing. Coach (Charles) Huff is big on that. He always says, ‘We got here as a team, we’re going to leave as a team, win or lose as a team.’”
Ulmer agreed that this situation is nothing like 2016 in which the locker room became fractured.
While the situation isn’t similar, the Herd is able to use that situation as a teaching tool due to the number of veteran players who were around for it.
Ulmer said that is what this week’s practice is all about.
“You use that season as a blueprint of what not to do and how not to operate as a team,” Ulmer said. “We’re not at that point. Our team is in great shape. Our guys are jelling and we love each other and everything. We just came short on a couple of games and we need to go get us one.”
Johnson said there is only way to end the streak: go out and play as one team and execute in all phases.
“This week, we’re focusing on us,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to execute. That’s the biggest thing. We’re not executing as how we know to do at Marshall.”