What is the biggest area of emphasis
for Marshall as it heads to Boise?
It's the little things. Marshall has to take care of the fine details against a Boise State team that simply doesn't have weaknesses. The Broncos are a fundamentally-sound team that is well-coached and does everything well. A cross-country trip isn't easy by any stretch, but add in that it's the first road game for many of the Herd defenders and it's a game that could slip away if Marshall's mindset is not right going into Albertsons Stadium. Veterans such as Levi Brown and Chris Jackson have to lead on both sides. Any lapses in focus and Boise State makes a team pay dearly. Just ask Florida State.
What does Marshall have to do early to establish rhythm?
Offensively, the team has to get the ground game going. Moving the ball on the ground and getting a couple of first downs under its belt will help with calming the entire team in its first road trip and also squelching what should be a boisterous crowd for the Broncos' home opener. On the defensive side, Marshall's front seven has to come up with ways to rattle the cage of Boise State true freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier. That is not going to be easy considering that kid was punished early on against Florida State, but kept right on moving and eventually led the comeback win. Channing Hames is a guy that needs to be a big source of pressure in the middle, getting into the sightlines of Bachmeier to disrupt throws.
What is one aspect that could be
Marshall's downfall in this game?
Turnovers, which is a two-pronged deal as I consider them. The general norm is that a fumble or interception is a turnover, but I'll take it one step further with three-and-outs, also. Against a team like Boise State who methodically drives the ball down-field, a three-and-out is almost as bad as a turnover. It could be the very factor that leads to Marshall only having possession over a 9-10 minute stretch of action, which taxes the defense - as was shown against Florida State when Boise State ran 108 plays, courtesy of the Broncos' defense. Florida State jumped to a big lead, but the Seminoles' last nine drives featured seven punts, a lost fumble and a turnover on downs. Of those seven punts, five came on three-and-outs.
Name a player on each side of the football that Marshall needs to have a big game in order for the Herd to see success on Friday.
On the offensive side of the football, running back Tyler King is a guy who needs to have a big day. It isn't just about the production standpoint from King; however, it is also that "lightning in a bottle" nature of his runs that seem to energize the entire sideline. King did so in road wins over Middle Tennessee two years ago and Old Dominion last season. Defensively, it is much of the same rhetoric with Darius Hodge, who plays key roles on defense and special teams. Hodge has the ability to change a game at any point, and forcing turnovers has seemed to be in his DNA. Coming off a week in which Marshall lost the turnover battle, a spark is needed from the defense.
What is so special about this matchup?
Simple. All eyes in the college football world will be on this game. That is, in part, because it's a Friday night contest, but also because it isn't often that fans get to see two teams considered among the top-tier in the Group of Five in 2019 going head-to-head. Boise State has held the flag in the Group of Five for several years and Marshall is trying to ascend to that level. To be the best, you have to beat the best and ... well ... Marshall is going to take on one of the country's best on Friday. It's a "getcha popcorn ready" type of game.
- Grant Traylor