HUNTINGTON — Marshall players laughed during Tuesday’s player interviews when asked how many times that they’ve heard a familiar phrase from head coach Doc Holliday.
Holliday uttered the phrase again this week in his Monday press conference.
“I tell our kids every week, ‘Every week, you guys are going to pick up the paper or whatever you pick up — ESPN, whatever — and someone’s going to get beat that shouldn’t,’” Holliday said. “It happens every weekend. It happened last weekend. It’s going to happen this weekend. You have to make sure it’s not you.”
Marshall senior offensive lineman Alex Mollette had a quick answer when asked about how often he’s heard that phrase.
“Let’s see,” Mollette said. “This is my fifth year here, so I’d say probably about every single week. That’s one of Doc’s favorite sayings.”
That doesn’t mean Holliday’s constant reminder isn’t without merit, however.
“It’s true,” Mollette added. “Every time you look at the paper the next day — especially this year — there’s teams bouncing all around the rankings everywhere. There’s teams that lose every single week that shouldn’t. There’s been two or three — there’s been way more than in previous years.”
Mollette elaborated further on Holliday’s meaning, which seems to run deeper in a year where distractions surrounding a program are at an all-time high.
“I think what Doc means by that is if you kind of overlook a team and you don’t really realize — because, you know, they’re all in college football for a reason; they’re good football players — if you overlook them, they’ll send you home with a big fat ‘L.’”
On the surface, Marshall’s home game against Massachusetts at 2:30 p.m. Saturday looks like one the Thundering Herd should win. Marshall opened as a 44-point favorite — one of its biggest opening lines in recent memory.
The Herd also has experience on its side both within the 2020 season and within its program due to an overhaul of the roster by UMass head coach Walt Bell.
That overhauled roster has only been on the field for one game — a 41-0 loss to Georgia Southern on Oct. 17.
While situations for all teams are different, Holliday said the focus is on his own program to mature, which is one aspect that he’s most proud of with his 2020 team to date.
To date, Marshall has seen three games canceled or postponed: the Sept. 12 contest at East Carolina, the Oct. 3 home date with Rice and last week’s contest at FIU.
No matter the situation surrounding the cancellations, the theme has remained the same: block out the noise and keep moving forward.
“We’ve really handled the situation well,” Marshall running back Sheldon Evans said. “Everything has been getting canceled or sudden change has been happening. We’ve just been adapting to it and just trying to move forward.”
So far, that maturity and focus on preparation has resulted in a 5-0 record, a No. 16 national ranking and positioning to be in the mix for a Conference USA title at season’s end.
While the Herd steps out of conference this week for its game with UMass, Holliday said the work toward all of those goals doesn’t stop this week.
“We’ve got really high expectations and standards and goals,” Holliday said. “I think this year our kids are so damn happy when they get a chance to play a game. They are excited when they get a chance to play. This Saturday, we’ve got another opportunity and I’m sure they’ll be excited to go play again.”
Evans said that no one is taking the chance to get another game under their belt lightly, no matter who the opponent is.
“The mindset doesn’t change,” Evans said. “Whoever steps in front of us, they are in the way of our goals that we set forth coming back. As long as we keep that mentality, every game is going to be that championship game, that championship mindset.”