HUNTINGTON — Good to go.
Those are three words that many programs haven’t been able to utter throughout the entire 2020 football season.
However, each time the question has been posed of Marshall’s football team, that has been the answer given by head coach Doc Holliday.
In a season where there is plenty to be proud of for the Thundering Herd — a 7-0 record, first-place standing in Conference USA’s East Division and a No. 15 national ranking — the consistency of the Herd’s availability for games is which Holliday takes the most pride.
Marshall has answered the call in terms of protocols and minimizing the effects of COVID-19.
“Control what we can control,” Holliday said of his team’s motto for 2020. “I think our guys have done a nice job of doing that. Our kids are unbelievable. These kids have been here since May 20 and haven’t left campus.”
That included last week, when the team was off for a second consecutive week and the campus was shut down due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Across the nation, some coaches allowed players to return home to be with families at the risk of a COVID-19 spike within their programs.
Marshall did not, continuing to practice through the holiday and off week to ensure that the focus remains on the 2020 season.
It was a tough call for Holliday and his staff, but one the players understood and embraced with so much on the line in an undefeated campaign.
“Teams that sent their kids home for Thanksgiving have had problems,” Holliday said. “Our kids understood they couldn’t do that — they couldn’t leave — or we would’ve had problems as well.
“That being said, you’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They deserve all the credit in the world and we’ve done something with them just about every day that we possibly could to try to keep them around us.”
Holliday said keeping the team around the staff and under its watchful guidance was critical to the team’s success in managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coaches can’t be around the players all the time, though, so Holliday again said his team’s leadership and accountability have been the driving force for the Herd’s ability to sustain during the pandemic.
“There’s a lot of teams out there that weren’t able to handle the situation — a lot of teams that are normally great football teams that are not very good teams this year because they couldn’t handle everything the players had to do and put up with,” Holliday said. “Our kids have been able to do that.”
Rice — Marshall’s noon opponent on Saturday — has also dealt with the difficulties associated with COVID-19 this season.
As the Herd and Owls get set to meet on the first weekend of December, the Owls have just three games under their belt.
The full expectation is for the fourth to come on Saturday at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, though.
“Somebody told me that their coach said yesterday that they have zero positives, so I don’t know why it wouldn’t take place,” Holliday said. “I think it should and I know from our perspective we have a Tuesday practice and we’re good to go.”
With numbers spiking everywhere nationally, Holliday and his staff have to be more vigilant than ever as they look to finish out the 2020 season.
Given how volatile the situation has been this year, it was almost like talking about a no-hitter in baseball when speaking with Holliday about his team’s unblemished mark on the season and against COVID-19.
“We’re proud of that, knock on wood,” Holliday said. “Let’s hope that continues because with what’s going on out there right now, there’s a lot of unknowns. We’ve got to keep doing everything we can possibly do to keep this thing rolling.”