TULSA, Okla. - Through the first nine games, Marshall was was reasonably healthy compared to recent years. With a short week before its game Thursday at Memphis, the injury bug is catching up. The pregame was an omen of sorts, as Tron Martinez showed up in sweats. That left Travon Van to carry the load, which he did with 114 yards on 17 carries. Sixty-nine of those yards did come on a second-half run for a touchdown, however.At left guard, John Bruhin couldn't go past the second series on his swelling ankle, leaving Corey Tenney to play much of the rest of the game.In the second quarter, A.J. Graham had to exit after he got popped in the right shoulder trying to get a first down. He ran off the field to the locker room, holding his arm up. Rakeem Cato took over, and could well be starting Thursday.On Cato's first series, right tackle C.J. Wood went down, holding his right ankle. Josh Lovell was inserted."I don't know what the status is of all those guys," Holliday said. "[Bruhin] practiced Tuesday or Wednesday. [His ankle] seemed like it swelled up again. We thought he was going to be able to go a little bit, but he wasn't able to play."EarlRashad Jackson started, but was not seen after the first series. Martin Ward started at running back, but was subbed by Van on the second play and never received a carry.nn
Arguably, Marshall got an unlucky draw in facing Houston and Tulsa in its three cross-division games. Those two teams are undefeated in league play, and likely will play Thanksgiving weekend in a winner-take-all shootout.It was a given that the Thundering Herd was going to have trouble, but the combined stats of those two games are frightening. A rundown:
Total yardage: 1,303 yards, almost three-quarter of a mile.Rushing: 72 attempts, 522 yards, 7.25 yards per carry, five touchdowns.Passing yards: 781, 11 yards per attempt.Combined stats of Houston's Case Keenum and Tulsa's G.J. Kinne: 48-of-59, 678 yards, 10 touchdowns, one interception. NCAA passer rating: 230.57, which would lead the nation by 34 points.
Red zone defense: Fourteen trips by the two opponents, 11 touchdowns and a field goal.Plays of 10 or more yards: A whopping 40.
That has made Herd coach Doc Holliday almost dizzy."It was crazy. I have never been around anything like that, and that's not good," he said.nn
Marshall suffered the ignominy of allowing two 100-yard rushers (Je'Terian Douglas 194, Trey Watts 144), a 300-yard passer (Kinne 302) and a 100-yard receiver (Bryan Burnham, 146 yards on 10 catches).
Burnham set career highs in both categories, taking advantage of unusually large cushions afforded by Marshall defensive backs."It's a perfect example of G.J - Burnie has to make the catch," said Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship. "We have routes on the other side of the field, and when they gave us that 'out' route, [Kinne] took it. And he was a surgeon with the football."And the Herd secondary is feeling a little cut up this weekend."We tried to mix things up," Holliday said. "We tried to play some 'quarters,' tried to play some two-deep, we rolled that guy up. They just did a good job, they took what we gave them. And you've got a quarterback like Kinne, he's a good player and he's going to take advantage of what you give him."BrieflyTwo positive plays for the Herd: Van's 69-yard run was the longest since Darius Marshall's run of even length Sept. 26, 2009 at Memphis. Aaron Dobson caught his eighth touchdown pass, tying Cody Slate (2008) for the most in a season since Darius Watts' 11 in 2003.More not-so-positive stats: Tulsa didn't have its first punt until the 8:03 mark of the third quarter. The Golden Hurricane lined up for a punt in the first quarter, but MU's Kellen Harris jumped offsides. The yardage resulted in a first down.What a good hurry-up offense brings: Tulsa had 86 scrimmage plays to Marshall's 74, despite holding the ball just 28 minutes, 57 seconds.Trend tracked by the hometown press corps before noon local time: Tulsa and nearby Oklahoma State combined to whack their opponents by a final score of 125-23. The Cowboys wrangled Texas Tech 66-6.Gametime winds were announced at 21 mph, gusting to 30.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or email@example.com