MCGILL: @HerdFB Players, Coaches Wary of Friday Night Road Game
The Word on the Herd -- Oct. 20, 2017
By Chuck McGill
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – In the wake of Marshall’s fifth win in six games and fourth win in a row, Thundering Herd football coach Doc Holliday was questioned about the short turnaround for Friday night’s game at Middle Tennessee.
“Don’t remind me,” he replied last Saturday night.
The shortened week of preparation, though, has constantly been on Holliday’s mind this week as Marshall (5-1, 2-0 Conference USA) faces Middle Tennessee (3-4, 1-2 C-USA) at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. He revamped the routine, combined days and was especially cognizant of how the players’ bodies were feeling in the days leading up to the team’s seventh game of the season.
“The biggest thing is taking care of your body,” said Ryan Yurachek, a senior tight end. “You have to think about how you feel on Friday and you want to make sure you feel that way on Thursday.”
Holliday, too, knows the challenges of playing on a Friday night on the road on national television, a hat trick of potential pitfalls. Marshall’s team watched the nationally televised games last Friday from a conference room in their team hotel in Barboursville, and the night ended with No. 2 Clemson losing at Syracuse and No. 8 Washington State losing at California.
“Any team can be beat,” said Blake Keller, a senior defensive end. “If you look at college football this past weekend, it proves to be true. You don’t prepare for any team differently.”
Marshall’s game is one of four in FBS on Friday night. There is one other game in Conference USA on Friday: Western Kentucky (4-2, 2-1) at Old Dominion (2-4, 0-2). That game kicks off at 5 p.m. and will be shown on CBSS. Also Friday, Air Force plays at Nevada and Colorado State visits New Mexico.
“We are always sitting in the hotel watching teams in our conference play and teams around the country play,” Yurachek said, “and people are doing that with us and we want to make sure we have the best product on the field.”
Junior quarterback Chase Litton has thrown a touchdown pass in 27 consecutive games, the second-longest active streak among FBS QBs. If he continues that streak Friday night, he will match Todd Donnan for career touchdown passes in program history (61). One touchdown will tie Litton for fifth place in that category, and he will move into sole possession of fifth with a pair of touchdown passes. Litton has nine touchdowns against zero interceptions over his last three games.
Litton needs 56 yards to match Carl Fodor for career passing yards (6,655 to 6,599). Fodor is seventh and Litton is eighth on that list.
Remarkably, though, Litton is still eight interceptions from qualifying for the top 10 in program history in picks. Litton enters Friday night’s game with a streak of 112 consecutive throws without an interception.
For his career, Litton has thrown 20 interceptions in 955 attempts – one interception for every 47.8 attempts. That is the second-best rate in program history, next to legendary quarterback Byron Leftwich (28 interceptions in 1,442 attempts – one for every 51.5 attempts).
STAT OF THE WEEK
Marshall’s win streak is at four games, which is the longest in Conference USA. South Florida (USF) has the nation’s longest winning streak at 11 games. Miami is next with 10 consecutive wins.
There are eight undefeated teams left in FBS: Alabama, UCF, Wisconsin, Georgia, TCU, Penn State, Miami and USF.
STAT OF THE WEEK, PART II
According to Sport Source Analytics, the team that scores first has won 76 percent of the time in college football this season.
Marshall is 4-0 when it scores first this season: Miami, Kent State, Cincinnati and Charlotte. Fast starts, in general, have been a theme for the Herd this season. MU is outscoring opponents 31-6 in the first quarter, allowing only a field goal to Miami and North Carolina State. The Herd has not allowed a touchdown in the first quarter yet this season, and has not allowed a point in the first quarter in the past four games.
After last week’s 35-3 win, Marshall became the first team in the 22-year history of Conference USA to not allow a touchdown in its first two league games.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Marshall defensive coordinator Chuck Heater:
“We’re on the road. It’s a Friday night. You’re at the point now where you go from having no identity to having a little bit of identity. You have to handle that. You have to handle it when you get hit in the mouth. That’s going to happen.”
As always, at home or on the road, the Marshall athletic department will provide in-game updates through social media websites Twitter and Facebook. Please follow me on Twitter -- @chuckmcgill or www.twitter.com/chuckmcgill -- and Marshall’s official football account -- @HerdFB or www.twitter.com/HerdFB. Questions are welcome on Twitter or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org