BOGACZYK: Myers Hurrying to Big Finish for Herd
The Word on the Herd-Nov. 6, 2014
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Think of the Marshall football offense then, not now. Think of the hurry-up of 2012 and 2013 with Rakeem Cato at the controls.
Now, go to the other side of the ball, and talk to defensive end Ra’Shawde Myers. He’s one of 12 senior starters for Coach Doc Holliday’s team, the first nationally ranked club for Marshall in 12 seasons. Myers is one of five players remaining in the program from Holliday’s first signing class, in February 2010.
And while those who follow the program seem to worry about how and where the 2014 season will end – with favor or disfavor from the College Football Playoff selection committee – guys like Myers are more about an ending, period.
"The time here, honestly, it’s been fast; it’s flown by," said Myers, who moved into the starting lineup early last season when senior Jeremiah Taylor suffered a back injury. "The time here seems really short. I’ve been here for a while, played a lot, and yet, it still feels like it was yesterday, like I just got here."
Myers and the Herd (8-0, 4-0) will visit Southern Miss (3-6, 1-4) on Saturday night, and then it’s down to three regular-season games for the Cocoa, Fla., native and his fellow seniors … plus hopes for a second straight Conference USA Championship Game date on Dec. 6 and then the certainty of a bowl somewhere.
"We’ve gotten the program back to where Marshall football should be," said Myers, who spent his first year at Marshall sitting out to retain eligibility. "Now, we want to win out. We’re where we want to be. We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing, working hard, playing the way we know we can play."
The 6-foot-5, 252-pound Myers has experienced plenty at MU. He’s gotten married, and he and his wife, Queen, have twins Jaylin and Jahlil, nearly 1 1/2. In December, Myers will graduate with a degree in liberal arts – one of 10 Herd players who will graduate when this semester ends.
A lot changed when those children were born. Another change came when he took over Taylor’s old spot in Week 4 last season. And this season, his 336 snaps in the MU defensive line rotation is tops.
"I was in the rotation – our coaches call it ‘shared time’ when JT went down," said Myers, who in his second game as a regular – against UTSA last season – made the first interception by a Herd defensive lineman in six seasons. "Since then, it’s been going by faster than I thought it would.
"I’m kind of at a loss for words about it. It’s been a blur, and time is running down."
Myers said he takes great pride in being part of a Herd defense that is meeting most of its goals in a second season under veteran coordinator and secondary coach Chuck Heater and position coaches Adam Fuller (linebackers), J.C. Price (tackles) and Sean Cronin (ends).
"There’s nothing I can think of that we could do a lot differently," he said. "Everything we’ve done so far, we’ve done pretty well. If you look in our meeting room, on our defense board, we have that set of goals we want to accomplish each game.
"When you look at it, besides two games (Miami of Ohio and FAU), we’ve done everything we wanted to do. Every game we’ve played, we’ve done a pretty good job holding teams to the numbers we want to hold them to in the process. We’ve done a pretty good job with that."
Marshall ranks seventh nationally in scoring defense (16.5 ppg), is No. 11 in third-down defense (31.1 percent) and 10th on fourth down (23.5 percent). The Herd has nine goal-line stands on which foes have run 24 plays inside the MU 10, and come away with only two field goals.
And on 3-and-outs (limiting foes to one series, including a fourth-down stop), Marshall has been successful of 34 of 109 series.
"The defense is better this year than last season because everybody on the team is more mature," said Myers, who has 20 tackles, including two sacks. "(Tackle) James Rouse came back (for a sixth year of eligibility) and that was a big boost for us. (At tackle) Jarquez Samuel isn’t the same player he was last year, much better. Same with Steve Dillon.
"(At end), Joe Massaquoi has stepped up. Armonze (Daniel) has stepped up. Everybody has put forth the effort and that makes a difference.
"With Coach Heater (in his second season), we know what to expect now. There’s no questioning. There’s no ‘Maybe this will work.’ We know. It is what it is, and we do it. Once he says it, it’s the gospel and you go with it."
Myers said he has spent little time worrying about the College Football Playoff committee rankings that have snubbed the Herd. If anything, the absence makes the Marshall fervor stronger, he said.
"The rankings stuff doesn’t really bother me," Myers said. "As long as we do what we’re supposed to do, we win out, we win conference championship, that’s what we want. Whatever they rank us at, they rank us at.
"Strength of schedule, there’s nothing we can do about it. We’ve played the cards we’re dealt and we’ll keep doing that. Whoever they put on the schedule and when, that’s who we play, win lose or draw.
"It’s pretty simple. We wanted to win out, whether we go to a big bowl, or whatever bowl they give us. We’re looking for a championship. We’ve brought back Marshall football. The critics are going to say what they’re going to say. A conference title, that’s the one we’re shooting for.
"Anything after that, it’s a bonus."