HUNTINGTON — Marshall head coach Doc Holliday didn’t mince words when speaking about his team’s 52-14 loss to Cincinnati on Saturday.

Was he disappointed? Yes.

Was he surprised? Yes.

Was he ready to spit fire and brimstone? Not exactly.

That’s because Holliday said that his team’s issues on Saturday were based on execution, not effort.

“There’s nobody that went out and didn’t play hard,” Holliday said. “That didn’t happen. We just didn’t play very smart at times and we’ve got to get better.”

Holliday said the outcome was surprising to him, based on how the team looked leading up to the game.

“I thought we had a great couple weeks of preparation,” Holliday said. “I didn’t see anything at all that I felt going into that game — I thought we were well-prepared. Obviously, we weren’t. That’s on me.”

There was a myriad of mental breakdowns and issues from the onset, but one that really stood out came late in the first quarter. Cincinnati faced a third-and-goal from the 17-yard line after an offensive pass interference penalty, and Marshall was looking to get a stop that would’ve seized momentum after a long drive.

Holliday said the team got the right personnel package and call into the game, but just didn’t finish the play.

“We had the right call,” Holliday said. “We had a guy underneath him and a guy over top of him. We’ve got to make a play. At some point, the guys have to make a play.”

No matter whether it was offense, defense or special teams, played were not to be found for the Thundering Herd, which frustrated the Marshall players.

“We didn’t execute our game plan at all, so we were really mad at ourselves,” Marshall safety Nazeeh Johnson said. “It wasn’t what they were doing. They didn’t do anything really crazy. We seen everything that they did. It was just that we weren’t executing the call.”

Marshall quarterback Isaiah Green opened his interview by echoing Johnson’s sentiment.

“We didn’t execute enough,” Green said. “We didn’t make any plays. It’s always frustrating because everybody’s giving their best effort.”

Green said that there wasn’t an overabundance of positives from the lopsided home loss, there was one thing that stood out to him about his team.

“This football team doesn’t give up, and nobody pointed fingers at nobody,” Green said. “We stuck together as a group. We lost as a team.”

With Marshall opening Conference USA action this weekend at Middle Tennessee, who won the East Division last season, the focus is on moving ahead and remembering that now the team is 0-0 as it begins conference play — essentially, a new season for the players.

“[It was] a big wake-up call, especially losing how we lost today,” Marshall linebacker Omari Cobb said. “[Now, it’s] just getting the bitter taste out of our mouth and just trying to hurry up and get back in conference play and show what we can do.”