After such a disheartening loss last week, how does Marshall not let that disappointment creep in against FIU?
Marshall has kept a mentality of ‘Go 1-0 this week’ throughout the season and it will be tested on Saturday. The Herd locker room was stunned after last week’s result at Charlotte that took them out of control of the East Division in the C-USA race. Still, though, Marshall has plenty to win with a chance to play for — and potentially host — the Conference USA Championship should Southern Miss upset Florida Atlantic. Fittingly, it will be the seniors who will have to keep the team mentally right on Senior Day.
What does Marshall have to learn from Charlotte?
Plenty. First off, the offense has to find a way to get the ball to its wide receivers in inclement weather. With the forecast not exactly favorable for Saturday’s contest, Marshall gets a quick opportunity to test what they learned from last week’s dismal performance. Also, the Herd defense has to perform on the back end. FIU will undoubtedly take shots against Marshall’s cornerbacks after last week’s struggles and they have to step up to the challenge in one-on-one situations.
What statistic could well determine the game?
For me, it’s sacks. Marshall has made a living by getting to the quarterback with regularity. However, the Herd has just one sack in its last two games and did not have one against Charlotte in the loss. FIU is one of the best in the country at protecting the quarterback, allowing just 13 sacks total on the season. If Marshall can get to the quarterback like it did in Miami last year, the Herd has the edge. If FIU is able to protect QB James Morgan, it’s a long day for the Herd.
Who is the player that has to emerge this week to lead Marshall to a win?
This week, I’m going with defensive end Marquis Couch. He’s a Miami native playing in his final home game at Marshall against guys that he grew up with. The emotions for Couch will be high and he needs to turn that motor into playmaking ability by being disruptive in both run and pass situations. Couch has had a solid year for the Herd and could lead Marshall to a strong finish.
What is the biggest factor in this contest?
It’s the mental game. Both teams have difficult situations for completely opposite reasons. FIU is coming off arguably its biggest win in program history after upsetting cross-town big brother Miami last week. The Panthers will be flying high into Huntington and will also have revenge on their mind after Marshall kept them out of the C-USA Championship last season. Emotions will be high for the Panthers, and they have to keep those in check. Marshall, on the other hand, can’t be thinking about last week’s loss to Charlotte. If that is still in their heads, Marshall won’t be focused completely on FIU. And the Herd needs to be to get past FIU. It’s that simple.