Rice Football squares off with Marshall this weekend. Aaron Perkins, Managing Editor with HerdNation, tells us what to expect from the Herd.
Q: People were optimistic about quarterback Grant Wells entering the season, but did anyone expect him to be this sharp this quickly?
I think most fans hoped he would be this good, but I am not sure anyone thought he would be this good. When you look at the numbers he is putting up the biggest thing is the lack of turnovers/interceptions. That was the biggest issue our previous quarterback had over the past two years. In the two games that cost us the CUSA East title last year, he had multiple turnovers. Wells has the ability to keep drives alive without making game changing mistakes.
Q: Marshall doesn’t really have a true go-to wide receiver. How has that impacted the offense, for better or worse?
The season started without that one go to wide out. Talik Keaton, Broc Thompson and Willie Johnson were all three starting, and Wells was good at spreading the ball around. All three have missed time, Keaton and Broc missing multiple games. In that time, sophomore Corey Gammage has stepped up and actually started to be that “go to” wide receiver. He is big and strong with excellent hands. He seems to be starting to “get it,” as the season has moved along and is among the team leaders in receptions, yards and touchdown catches.
Q: If there’s a weakness in the Marshall defense what is it? Are there any matchups that concern you?
The biggest weakness would not be in a position or a player but in how overly aggressive they play. They have given up a few big trick-plays this year as they were over-pursing to try to make a big sack, or a tackle for loss.
Q: How have the string of postponements impacted the team? Do you anticipate any rust?
Early in the year the time off seemed to hurt at times. But one thing Doc Holliday has excelled at in his career is getting teams ready for bowl games after long layoffs. That has been the case most of this season. Marshall has been practicing longer than pretty much any team as we were preparing to play in Week “0” against ECU. This is the third long break of the season, so it will be interesting to see if the team is still ready to push through this very odd 2020 campaign.
Q: Coach Doc Holliday has fielded a lot of good teams, but hasn’t won a C-USA championship since 2014. Conveniently enough, Rice was the team to thwart them the year before. Is this the year the Herd win it all?
I like Marshall’s chances. This is one of the most solid teams Doc has had since he has been at Marshall. Both the offense and the defense has been consistent throughout the season. The defense is strong up the middle and should match up well with teams from the West. The offense has just enough fire power in Brenden Knox, Wells, and the wideouts, and returns a veteran offensive line. One thing is certain, Marshall should at least be favored in all of the remaining games, included a CUSA Championship Game.
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