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Sunday, September 24, 2023


Marshall seeks cohesion

Riding a three-game losing streak entering today’s game against Houston, the Marshall Thundering Herd (3-4, 2-1 Conference USA) looks to regain momentum in conference play after their last defeat, a 23-21 setback to conference rival Alabama-Birmingham.

In that game, both offenses fought to put its teams ahead in a tug of war that lasted 60 minutes. Unfortunate possessions and missed opportunities, including starting its opening drive on its 6-yard line, backed Marshall into a corner.

"We did not anticipate starting on the 6-yard line; we hoped to at least get it out to the 20," head coach Mark Snyder said in an Oct. 21 press conference. "We’re trying to start fast, and we made a decision, which ended up being a safety."

Just 14 seconds into the contest, senior wide receiver Darius Passmore was tackled in the end zone on a rush attempt, allowing UAB to grab a quick 2-0 lead.

"Had it gone 94 (yards), it would have been a great idea," Snyder said. "When something bad happens to you right off the bat, don’t compound the problem by trying to make a big play in a situation like that."

Marshall, however, bounced back, scoring 14 unanswered points on two touchdown passes from freshman quarterback Mark Cann, including a 71-yard pass to Passmore that put the Thundering Herd ahead 14-2 in the second quarter.

"You knew we had a ballgame at that point, and it could have been game, set, match right there," Snyder said. "At the end, all you can ask for is to have a chance to win and we came up a little short."

The big blow came late in the fourth quarter when junior kicker Craig Ratanamorn missed wide right on a 37-yard field goal that would have put Marshall ahead 24-23 with 2:50 left. Instead, the miss sealed the victory for UAB, which drained the clock from there.

"It stung for a couple of days, but we’re fine," Snyder said.

The opportunity to head home for its "comeback game" is not an opportunity overlooked by a Herd squad that has played only three home games so far, going 2-1 in them. Snyder and his team look to mirror the Cougars while overcoming an offense that has overwhelmed opponents.

"As you look at the film, they’re a little too one dimensional in the pass game," Snyder said. "The last couple of weeks, they’ve found themselves a running back and it’s balanced out their offense."

"They’ll definitely make us defend the entire field."

Houston sophomore quarterback Case Keenum is on Snyder’s radar as a playmaker to defend against in today’s game.

"He looks like he has a lot of poise in the pocket," Snyder said. "He does not get rattled. He has a very nice delivery and escapability."

On the defensive side of the ball, Snyder notices the improvements Houston has made each week. Limiting errors and weakness will be important for the Herd.

"They’re a little bit ‘bend and don’t break,’" Snyder said of Houston’s defense. "They are very sound in what they do. They know what the weaknesses are and anytime you expose one of those weaknesses, they’ve got an answer for it. I’ve been impressed with their defense; they are really starting to come on."

And the opportunity to play on national television is always something to look forward to.

"It’s exciting for us to play on national TV. The whiteout against Cincinnati was unbelievable," Snyder said. "It was great TV exposure for us, and we get a chance to play a good Houston team on national television.

"It will be the only game on, and we’re excited about it."

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