HUNTINGTON — Knowledge McDaniel.
It is a name unique enough that it stays in your mind.
After the performance that McDaniel put in last week, the unique name that reverberated over the speakers at Joan C. Edwards Stadium won’t be leaving the minds of Marshall fans any time soon.
Prior to the Thundering Herd’s 59-0 win over Eastern Kentucky, many did not know about McDaniel or the skill set he possessed. It became more clear as he led Marshall with 93 yards on 14 carries.
As teammates pointed out following the win, though, Knowledge is, indeed, power.
“He showed you the power and the acceleration and the cuts getting up field,” Marshall running back Sheldon Evans said. “He showed me a little glimpse of everything.”
Evans’ assessment was spot on.
In the open field, the 5-foot-11, 218-pound sophomore from Bradenton, Florida, was able to show explosiveness that led to chunk gains. However, the most impressive attributes came in key situations when the Herd needed a set amount of yardage.
On a third-and-2, McDaniel pushed ahead for three yards. On another third-and-3, McDaniel pushed ahead for five. Both came after contact as well. That type of awareness showed Marshall’s running back room goes well beyond Brenden Knox and Evans.
McDaniel said it was nice to get out on the field and showcase his abilities, and that there weren’t really nerves because of the time and preparation he’d put in for the moment, which dates back to last season.
“Everybody had faith in me, so I wasn’t really stressed with what I was going to do when I got out there,” McDaniel said. “It was just executing the game plan and all the preparation that we went through to make sure that everything went how it went.”
That preparation paid off in a big way for McDaniel when he nearly turned his first repetitions at running back into a 100-yard performance.
“I really felt like I left a lot of yards out there,” McDaniel said. “I watched the film and I did — I left some yards out there. I still did good, though.”
After watching film, McDaniel said much of his success is a credit to the line in front of him, which also came into the game and took advantage of the chance to show what it can do for the Herd offense.
“My line that I was [out] with, they did a phenomenal job,” McDaniel said. “They were opening up holes. I was seeing mean lanes and they were getting a lot of push.”
McDaniel said it was cool to hear his name go over the speakers at Joan C. Edwards Stadium for the first time, but the coolest aspect was teaming with fellow running back Lawrence Papillon to get the Herd a second-half touchdown.
“I told him, if anything, I’m going to drive down the field and you’re going in and you’re going to finish it,” McDaniel said. “We’re going one-two-one. We’re going to be like Brenden and Shel. We’re going to keep everything going.”
In the end, McDaniel and Papillon did exactly that. They led a second-half rushing effort in which Marshall rushed 29 times for 195 yards — an average of 6.7 yards per touch. It capped a 282-yard rushing performance for the Herd that was the most since last season’s 305-yard effort against Ohio, which also came in early September.
Evans said that seeing McDaniel’s performance gave some proof of what had already been seen from Herd players and coaches in preseason practice.
“There’s not going to be a dropoff when Knox and I aren’t in the game,” Evans said.