HUNTINGTON — Marshall football players were plenty relaxed as they walked in for their weekly interview session Monday. After all, it was the only football-related aspect their day required as part of two days off during the early portion of their bye week.
However, the bye week brought mixed emotions from those in attendance as the group tried to find a balance between getting their bodies right and maintaining the momentum of the current four-game winning streak.
“It’s like a love-hate relationship,” Marshall running back Brenden Knox said. “A lot of guys definitely need it in terms of getting your body where it needs to be for this time of the year, but at the same time, it’s kind of annoying because it is a momentum we’re rolling with and now, it’s like paused for a second and you have to replay it again. The task is picking up where we left off.”
Marshall true freshman wide receiver Broc Thompson said he was ready to get back on the field and get to work.
“Actually, surprisingly, I wasn’t too excited because I’m a football junkie, a football fanatic,” Thompson said. “I wasn’t too excited, but we needed to get our legs back under us.”
Physical rest was a definite bonus, especially among the linemen in attendance after they’ve gone anywhere from 40 to 70 snaps per week over the last six weeks.
“We can definitely feel it,” Marshall offensive lineman Cain Madden said. “Any time you can get extra time to go to the training room to get some extra treatment and get in the cold and hot tubs, it’s always big for the body.”
While Marshall players said that they wanted to get physical rest, they added that they can’t allow themselves to get too comfortable mentally, needing to keep an edge about them in order to stay sharp.
“I feel like we have to heal people that are banged up, but it also gives us more time to take mental reps,” Marshall defensive lineman Kobe Cumberlander said.
Many pointed to that as a major lesson learned from the Thundering Herd’s first bye week of the season when the team followed it with a 52-14 home loss to Cincinnati.
“This week, we have to make an emphasis on we can’t relax,” Marshall defensive back Kereon Merrell said. “Everything that we said we wanted to do in the preseason, that’s still in front of us, so we’ve got to make sure that this week, we don’t lose focus. That first bye week, we lost focus.”
Players’ bye-week routines vary. Some get totally away from football and clear their heads. Others will use the time to break down film with coaches and teammates and check for tendencies in their own games or things that they can correct.
No matter the formula, players said that when the team comes back together on Wednesday for practice, there is one sole focus: preparing for Louisiana Tech.
That is a game that hit on several different levels for players.
“We’ve got to think about who we’ve got next because it’s the most important game,” Cumberlander said. “Even though it’s the most important game, it’s also a game that we honor the ‘75’. That’s why I feel like this [bye week] has got to be to our advantage.”
Marshall players got a pair of days off early in the week to focus on school and treatment, but the Herd resumes practice on Wednesday in preparation for what is shaping up to be a pivotal matchup against Louisiana Tech on Nov. 15.
This weekend, Louisiana Tech hosts North Texas in a key Conference USA West Division showdown, and many of the players are planning to get together to watch the matchup. Marshall defensive lineman Jamare Edwards said that players get just as intense watching a live game on an opponent as a film clip.
“That’s taking tendencies, learning what the opponent likes to do, what he does when he’s tired — you need all that to win a game,” Edwards said. “If you’re not watching film on your bye week to see the team you’re playing, you’re not trying to win. That’s how I feel about it.”