BOGACZYK: Herd Gives Rival Ohio `Ringing' Endorsement
The Word on the Herd-September 10, 2014
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – In the last three seasons and three losses in the “Battle of the Bell” football series, Marshall has made 13 turnovers, which has been enough to help Ohio say, “Ring-a-ding ding.”
So, as the Thundering Herd approaches the 58th game with its regional rival on Saturday at noon at Edwards Stadium, Coach Doc Holliday’s team would prefer an early 2014 season trend continue.
To date, Ohio (1-1) hasn’t had a takeaway in winning at Kent State and falling at Kentucky. Only 11 of 127 FBS teams that have played – Cincinnati doesn’t open until Friday night against Toledo – don’t have a takeaway. And the Bobcats are one of three at the bottom of the turnover chart, at minus-5 with Michigan and Louisiana-Lafayette.
Meanwhile, the Herd (2-0) fumbled five times in its yards-filled romp past Rhode Island on Saturday, losing three of those. It was only the fifth game in Coach Doc Holliday’s 53 as Marshall coach that one of his teams has lost the turnover margin but won the game.
And the last three seasons against Ohio show what giveaways can mean, with the Herd being minus-10 in those losses.
“There’s no question it is an issue,” Holliday said of turnovers at his Tuesday news conference. “It has been an issue. Just take care of the ball and it will help. You can’t turn the ball over three or four times against any good football team and win, you just can’t do that. So, that’s been an issue.
“We have to take care of the football. If we do that, we have a shot. Part of the plan to win is taking care of the football. We talk about the plan to win every week. Part 1 of the plan is play great defense. I like the way our defense is playing now. The second thing we talk about is taking care of the ball and we didn’t do that last week.
“Our kicking game has been pretty solid and we scored in the red zone the majority of the time (10-of-11, 8 touchdowns, 2 field goals). Some of those field goals need to become touchdowns. Last week, we did not do a very good job taking care of the ball. That has to be fixed or you won’t beat a good football team.”
Whatever the history – recent past of 2011-13 or recent of 2014 – Marshall players know that in one fashion, the Bobcats won’t do giveaways.
“They’ve got guys who go out and just do their jobs,” Herd running back Devon Johnson said. “Watching their defense on film, they have hardly any MA’s (missed assignments). There might be a couple of times they miss tackles because they overrun the ball, but that’s just a missed tackle.
“They know where they’re going, and they’re at the right spot, and they make plays on the ball. They’ve got two defensive ends, 93 (Tarell Basham, a Freshman All-America pick in 2013) and 96 (Kendric Smith), very physical, athletic, they can run. The best linebacker, 51 (Jovan Johnson), he runs, makes plays in or outside the box.
That secondary covers very well. They’re not as quick as you might want your safeties to be, but they play smart and know how to do the job. It’s just a very, very solid group.”
Herd tight end Eric Frohnapfel said if you’re looking for secrets from Ohio, you might as well check the deodorant aisle at the pharmacy or supermarket.
“They’re basic, no secrets,” Frohanpfel said. “They run a base Cover 4. They’re really not very exotic and that’s not a knock on them in any way. They just don’t come with a lot of blitzes, a lot of different coverages.
“They play a vanilla scheme, but they run it very tight, very effectively, and they’re basically keeping everything in front of them and they’re making you beat them little-by-little. And for an offense, that’s tough. You have to make small chunks of yardage and continue that over a long drive. They don’t give up big plays, and that’s the thing we’ve seen in the first two games. They’ve really done a good job of cutting down on the big plays and making teams beat them a bit at a time.
“The other thing I noticed in the UK game is tackling. Ohio does a good job in open space of bringing guys down. That’s something as a defense that you really want to see. If they can bring guys down with their first tackler, that’s going to really help them in the long run.”
Marshall defensive end Ra’Shawde Myers said the Bobcats won’t do what Marshall has done in the series the last three years.
“They will not beat themselves; they just won’t,” Myers said. “Everything is plain and simple. Toss right. Toss left. ‘Stop us,’ is basically what they’re saying. And we have to do that.”
Marshall junior right tackle Clint Van Horn said the Herd offense needs to play from the first possession and keep on playing with verve.
“That (Ohio) defensive line is one of the strong parts of that team,” Van Horn said. “They like to bring pressure, play physical and I expect them to come out and do what they’ve done every other year. It’s the same coaching staff, and they come out, play hard, physical, mix it up in terms of stunts and games and stuff inside.
“They play with high motors, especially (Basham) at defensive end. He’s one of their better players on defense. We know they’ll try to set the tone early.”
To a man, the Herd seniors are weary of hearing how they’ve never beaten Ohio. They know it; they don’t have to be reminded. One of them, slot receiver Tommy Shuler, said Marshall can’t change history, but reversing a rivalry route is up to Holliday’s team.
“Ohio, you can go look at every game last year and this year, but that doesn’t matter,” Shuler said. “When they come into the Marshall stadium, they’re going to play a championship game. It doesn’t matter if we’re playing in snow. They’re going to come and play here.
“It’s something about them that they love to play here and they love to get after us. So, we’ve just got to do the same thing and get after them. They’re a great team. They’re always going to come in here and play ball. We have to play ball, too, from the start to the finish. Pull everything out of our hat and get the Bell back.”