HUNTINGTON, W.Va.- On the heels of its worst defeat of the season, Marshall University looks to rebound against a program it has enjoyed success against in recent years.
The Memphis Tigers (1-7, 1-3 Conference USA), who have lost the last four meetings to the Thundering Herd, pays a visit to Joan C. Edwards Stadium for a 2 p.m. kickoff today.
Last week in Orlando, Fla., Marshall (3-5, 2-2) was limited to its lowest offensive production of the season (364 yards) in a 54-17 loss to UCF. Knights return specialist Quincy McDuffie also returned two kickoffs for a touchdown.
"We've put that game behind us- it's important that our guys have a short term memory," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. "We made a couple changes personnel-wise (on our kickoff unit). We have to get the right people in the positions and coach the heck out of them."
Since defeating Rice four weeks ago in Memphis, Tenn., the Tigers have suffered three consecutive losses -capped off by last week's 44-13 pounding at SMU. Memphis trailed by just three points midway through the third quarter before SMU reeled off the final 28 points.
"You watch those guys (at Memphis) and they don't look like a 1-7 team," Holliday continued. "Regardless of their record, they show up and play.
at Marshall (3-5, 2-2)
Game time: 2 p.m.
Place: Jane C. Edwards Stadium
"It's important that we go out there and take care of ourselves. We have to make the plays that we've been making all year. Offensively all year long we've made plays and last week we didn't do that."
The Tigers face a Marshall unit which ranks fifth in the nation in total offense (542.9 yards per game) and second in passing offense (378.5 ypg). Thundering Herd quarterback Rakeem Cato has thrown for 2,949 yards and 23 touchdowns.
"Marshall's offense has put up some astronomical numbers, and we'll have to be ready for that challenge," Memphis first-year coach Justin Fuente said. "They are another one of those teams that tries to run 100 plays a game. I think we just have to meet it head-on as a team. We have to do a great job running the football and giving our guys on the other side of the ball an opportunity to rest.
"If you continue to give them opportunities, give them the ball right back and give them short fields, they're just going to continue to keep plugging away."
Memphis' ground attack is led by a handful of individuals, including Jai Steib (67-241), Jerrell Rhodes (52-224) and Brandon Hayes (42-223). Quarterback Jacob Karam has completed 115-of-191 passes (60.2 percent) for 1,146 yards and six touchdowns. His top two targets are Keiwone Malone (37-384) and Marcus Rucker (31-388).
Last year in Memphis, Marshall overcame six turnovers and rallied from a 12-point, fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Tigers, 23-22.
Today, Marshall looks to snap a three-game losing streak at home. With games remaining at UAB (Nov. 10), home against Houston (Nov. 17) and on the road versus East Carolina (Nov. 23), the Thundering Herd needs to win three of their final four to become bowl eligible for the third time in the last four years.
"This team still has a lot to play for," Holliday said. "It can accomplish more than any Marshall team in this conference has ever done and that is the opportunity to win six conference games."