HUNTINGTON — When asked what he remembers about last year’s loss to Middle Tennessee, Marshall linebacker Tavante Beckett did not even hesitate.
The memory? Middle Tennessee quarterback Asher O’Hara, who led the Blue Raiders to a 24-13 upset of MU, using his legs and arm to produce points in the win.
“They’ve got a very dynamic quarterback that I’m very familiar with,” Beckett said. “I watched him a lot last year and I’ve been keeping up with him this year, keeping an eye on him.”
Beckett’s nod to being familiar with O’Hara comes from last year’s contest in which O’Hara threw for 261 yards and rushed for another 76 while proving elusive to the Herd defense.
Beckett, who was one of several players called on to spy O’Hara last year, spoke of the less-than-fond memories of last year’s loss.
“I look to make more of a mark than I did last year,” Beckett said. “I felt like I could’ve played way better. It was very early in my season and I’m just looking forward to getting after it against them and making a difference this time.”
Beckett recalled a couple plays in particular that have stayed in his mind. It is part of the reason Beckett has kept tabs on him in the weeks leading up to the game.
There was one run Beckett lamented in which O’Hara “dead-legged” him and took off for a 20-yard gain after Beckett’s missed tackle.
“It’s one of the plays I remember a lot from last year,” Beckett said. “It was on his highlight tape, so I’m ready to get after him.”
It was a lesson that Beckett took moving forward.
“As an athlete, sometimes you underestimate your opponent and humble pie comes and reminds you that you’ve got to prepare a little harder,” Beckett said. “Knowing that this year, I know I’ve got to be on my P’s and Q’s.”
This season, one of Marshall’s defensive strengths has been making tackles in space, which will be crucial against the spread attack from the Blue Raiders in coach Tony Franklin’s scheme.
For Marshall’s defensive front, the object is to contain O’Hara inside the box and not allow him to get outside, where he becomes more dangerous as a runner and passer.
“We’ve got to rush as one unit as a defensive line,” Marshall defensive lineman Owen Porter said. “We’ve got to get back there as quick as we can to help the guys on the back end.”
Porter added one other integral part of the equation.
“Don’t miss whenever you make it,” Porter said.
O’Hara’s presence to the success of Middle Tennessee’s offense is easily seen.
On the season, O’Hara leads the team with 476 yards rushing while also throwing for a team-best 1,509 yards. O’Hara has accounted for 17 of the Blue Raiders’ 21 offensive touchdowns.