Top Offenses Square Off When Herd Meets Akron
Game Notes (.pdf)
Just shy of six miles. That is what Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich has thrown for in his college career.
The senior from Washington D.C. surpassed the 10,000-yard mark last Saturday during the Herdís 23-18 victory over Central Michigan. His career total of 10,323 passing yards leaves him just 237 yards shy of six miles for his career.
But passing records will not be on the mind of the Herd players this week as they prepare for a Mid-American Conference East Division tilt against the University of Akron at the Rubber Bowl. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. and the game will be televised as part of the MAC TV package over numerous Fox Sports Net affiliates.
The Herd was fortunate to escape Mt. Pleasant last weekend with itís skin and the team is determined to eliminate the mistakes that put the game in doubt until the final moments. Those mistakes -- costly penalties, dropped passes and mental mistakes -- changed a 20-0 cake-walk into a giant sigh of relief.
The positives from the game included three receivers with at least 100-yards in a game, the second time in school history that has happened. Darius Watts, Josh Davis and Denero Marriott combined for 22 receptions for 327 yards and two scores against the Chippewas. The performance came almost one year to the day of when the same trio first pulled the trick, combining for 20 catches for 367 yards and three scores against Akron last year.
This yearís matchup with the Zips features two teams headed in opposite directions. Marshall (6-1, 4-0) leads the MAC East Division in the quest for a sixth consecutive trip to the MAC title game. Akron is 1-7 overall and is winless in four MAC games.
The game will feature the top two players in the conference in total offense. Leftwich leads the nation with 386 yards per game, while Akronís Charlie Frye is second in the conference, and ninth in the country, at 290 yards per game.
Where the difference in this game may lie is on the defensive side. Marshall enters the game first in the league in scoring defense, pass defense and total defense while Akron comes in near the bottom, ranking 13th in scoring defense, 12 in pass defense and 12th in total defense. Opposing quarterbacks have put up a 165.7 efficiency rating against the Zips this season, a category Leftwich ranks second in the nation in.
The key to the game for Marshall will be in not looking ahead to the Herdís Nov. 12 showdown against Miami in a game that will likely determine the MAC East crown.
Positives this week is that the Herd should benefit from the return of backup tight end Eddie Smolder (concussion) and running back Franklin Wallace (ankle). Smolder has missed the last two games while Wallace went down early against Troy State and did not play last week.