Marshall opened its season with an impressive 52-14 win over Miami (OH). In this space we look at the game within the game, what keyed a 38 point Thundering Herd victory?
1) Freshman walk-on kicker Amoreto Curraj took all but one of Marshall's kickoffs yesterday, booting six of his eight attempts for touchbacks. In 83 kickoff attempts last season, the Thundering Herd only recorded six touchbacks. That is right Herd fans, Marshall had as many touchbacks last night as it did all of last year.
2) 19, the amount of sacks Marshall's defense registered last year, good for 87th in the nation. Linebacker Jermaine Holmes had the Herds lone sack yesterday but, green jerseys spent the majority of the night in Miami's backfield.
Under new coordinator Chuck Heater, Marshall's defense showed a willingness to rush the passer from multiple positions. Holmes, linebacker Neville Hewitt, corner back Corey Tindal, safety D.J. Hunter, linebacker Evan McKelvey, and defensive tackle James Rouse all had at least a half tackle for loss.
3) Prior to yesterday, Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato had rushed for no more than 32 yards in a single game. Last night Cato showed his growth in that area, running for 59 yards including a long of 15. Cato's new found ability to run the ball could spell disaster for opposing defenses.
Chew on this, Marshall's offense averaged over 500 yards and 90 plays from scrimmage last year with a stationary quarterback. What are the possibilities with a mobile Cato?
4) Miami's offense is based on a quadruple option attack. Pre-snap, the RedHawks often line a running back behind the quarterback and send a flanker or inside wide receiver in motion behind the formation. Once the ball is snapped, the quarterback has four options, keep the ball and run, hand off to the tailback, pitch to the motion man, or throw.
In the second half Marshall's defense did an incredible job sniffing out Miami's option based offense. Just looking at the third and fourth quarters, the RedHawks were held to 55 yards (27 plays) and no points. Miami was also unable to convert a second half third down attempt.