HUNTINGTON — It seems like it has been a month since Marshall’s football team has taken the field for a game.
It’s actually only been two weeks, but that’s still long enough for the Thundering Herd, which is eager to get back to work after sitting out the last two weekends of college football.
“Day by day,” Marshall offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey said. “Every day is new, every day is different.”
Marshall is No. 17 nationally and stands at 7-0 heading into its scheduled noon contest against Rice at noon on Saturday at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
The team is coming off its second stretch of consecutive bye weeks in the 2020 season, which means the focus is on being rested, but not rusty.
For Marshall’s coaching staff, that included taking care of the starters by limiting their repetitions while going live some with the younger players and reserves to get them as game-ready as possible, should their number be called.
“You just try to keep all your [starters] healthy and develop all your depth,” Marshall defensive coordinator Brad Lambert said. “That’s what you’re trying to get done. That’s the one advantage of it, so you’re trying to get those guys plenty of turns and you’re trying to play a little fast ball, but at the same time, keep your ones sharp. That’s the trick.”
Marshall was ranked No. 21 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday and, given that the Herd didn’t play on Saturday, MU could see its stock drop some when the newest rankings are released this week.
However, that ranking is not the focus of the team.
Instead, it is full focus forward on continuing to win each week in an effort to win a Conference USA championship.
MU is 4-0 in Conference USA games and can go a long way toward wrapping up the East Division title with a win this week.
Now that the time for refining its tools is complete, the Herd’s focus moves forward to its contest with the Owls, who gave Marshall a tough battle in Houston last season during a 20-7 Marshall win.
Marshall’s staff was hoping to get a look at the Owls during their day off Saturday, but the Owls fell victim to COVID-19 once again as their contest with UTEP was canceled as kickoff was slated to start due to positives and contact tracing within the UTEP program.
It does not appear that Saturday’s happenings with Rice will hinder the ability for Marshall’s team to participate against the Owls this weekend, but there is still a week’s worth of testing that has to happen.
Per Conference USA protocols, football teams test three times during the week prior to contests on the weekend.
Rice, which was originally scheduled to come to Huntington on Oct. 3, would be making the trip to Huntington on Friday in anticipation for Saturday’s noon kickoff.
The Rice game is one of two games left on Marshall’s 2020 schedule.
Following that game, the Herd is scheduled for a Dec. 11 trip to Miami to take on FIU. However, questions also loom over that contest due to COVID-19 issues within FIU’s program over the course of the season.