MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — When Marshall took the field against Middle Tennessee, it did so without wide receiver Obi Obialo, who missed his fifth straight game due to a foot injury that has sidelined him since the last week of the preseason.
So why is that significant now?
In addition to Obialo not being on the field for the Thundering Herd, Obialo’s situation is starting to bring into play a unique situation for Marshall head coach Doc Holliday.
Obialo came to Marshall as a transfer from Oklahoma State. In most transfer situations, a player has to sit a year under NCAA rules, so everyone assumed that this is Obialo’s last season with the Herd.
That doesn’t have to necessarily be the case, however.
Obialo was signed to Marshall as a scholarship player after being a walk-on at Oklahoma State. Under those scenarios, players don’t have to sit out and Obialo played the following season for the Herd.
That means Obialo has yet to exhaust his redshirt year — an aspect that is likely going to come into play soon.
With Marshall now having just seven regular-season games left, the question becomes does Holliday not rush Obialo back in an effort to utilize his redshirt year, making him eligible for 2020?
Remember, under NCAA legislation adopted prior to the 2018 season, a player can play in up to four games and still use a redshirt.
Holliday spoke on the topic earlier this week.
“We haven’t talked about that at this point,” Holliday said. “We’ll have to see where he is when he’s able to get back at some point and see where it goes from there.”
Obialo’s injury is a foot injury and sources say it could be a stress fracture, which is an injury that only gets better with rest.
Given his option for the redshirt year, expect the Herd coaching staff to be overly cautious in regard to his situation.
Marshall’s receiving corps could undoubtedly use his veteran presence and ability, with a young group seeing the majority of snaps. But it will be the job of the coaching staff to gauge whether his greatest value is for a few games to end 2019 or for the entire 2020 season.
HUGE DRIVE, NO POINTS
Marshall’s third-quarter issues have been well documented over the past few weeks.
On Saturday, it appeared that those were coming to an end, but, as Lee Corso would say, “not so fast, my friend.”
Marshall had quarterback Isaiah Green stumble on a third-and-2 before Brenden Knox was stuffed on fourth-and-1, which gave Middle Tennessee a big defensive stop.
How big? Marshall’s drive went 13 plays for 83 yards and took 6:46 off the clock, but the Herd walked away with zero points.
The Herd later had a drive that went to the Middle Tennessee 24, but was turned over on downs just before the end of the quarter.
QUARTERBACKS OR RUNNING BACKS?
In the first half of Saturday’s contest, the leading rusher for both teams was the quarterback.
Green had 12 carries for 90 yards in the first half — mainly on quarterback reads — while O’Hara rushed for 38 yards on six carries.
WHITE'S FIRST PASS ATTEMPT
A snap on a field goal attempt late in the first half went awry for the Herd, but holder Jackson White collected it and hit Devin Miller for a 6-yard gain and a first down.
White’s completion led to a reprieve for the Herd, which cashed in with a 24-yard field goal from Justin Rohrwasser.
It was the first pass attempt of White’s career with the Herd.
Green had done a solid job of taking care of the football early in the season, but he had a pair of turnovers in the first quarter on Sunday.
Green’s second pass attempt was picked off by Middle Tennessee’s Jovante Moffatt to set up the Blue Raiders’ first touchdown while his fumble in Middle Tennessee territory took away a scoring chance two drives later.