HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -The last time the football programs from Marshall and UAB met on the same playing field, the Thundering Herd turned in their finest performance in the Doc Holliday coaching era.
Saturday at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., Marshall will need to produce a similar type effort against a UAB outfit that is scoring points in bunches. The Blazers also have momentum in their corner after rallying from a 16-0 halftime deficit last week at Southern Miss.
In that 27-19 victory against the Golden Eagles, Darrin Reaves rushed for 169 yards in the second half and finished with 223 for the game - the second-highest total in UAB history.
"Reaves took the game over in the second half - they won because of the running game," Holliday said. "Reaves being able to run the football like he has creates a lot of issues with play-action and in the passing game.
"Adding that dimension makes them that much more dangerous."
With last Saturday's 38-28 win against Memphis in Huntington, Marshall improved to 4-5 and 3-2 in Conference USA and kept its bowl hopes alive.
Who: Marshall (4-5) vs.
What: Conference USA game
When: 4:30 p.m. today
Where: Legion Field
Under first-year head coach Garrick McGee, UAB enters with a record of 2-7 and 1-4 in league play. The Blazers, who have lost four games by 10 points or less, are averaging 35.6 points in their last three games.
Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m.
Part of UAB's success on offense rests with redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Brown, who has completed 58 percent (146-of-252) of his passes for 2,086 yards and 12 touchdowns.
One of his main targets is wide receiver Jackie Williams, who has hauled in 39 catches for 674 yards. The junior has grabbed at least one reception in each game he has played since joining the program in 2010 - a span of 32 consecutive contests.
"Austin Brown has done a good job managing their offense," Holliday continued. "He is dynamic. Just like all freshman quarterbacks, it's the first year in the system and he's getting better as the season goes on.
"He is a tough kid. You see him sitting there taking some shots, but he just gets right back up and goes right at it."
Rakeem Cato went through a similar transition last year at Marshall, but has settled into the position with flying colors and currently ranks as the No. 2 passer in the country with 365.5 yards per game. Against Memphis, Cato did not throw an interception while completing 34-of-44 passes for 341 yards and three touchdowns.
"Marshall is a team that passes the ball often and is very efficient," McGee said. "The first way that you have a chance of slowing them down is that our offense has to maintain possession of the ball. You have to convert third downs on offense; you have to move the ball down the field.
"The second way is that your pass defense, from the front to the quarterback, the linebackers understanding their matches, and the secondary reading what's going on and breaking on the ball is all going to be tested."
UAB has been rejuvenated on defense by senior linebacker Marvin Burdette, who set a school record with 24 tackles at Tulane two weeks ago. In the past four games, Burdette has accounted for five of his team-high nine tackles for loss and averaged 17.3 tackles per outing.
"Marvin Burdette flies around - he is their leader on defense," Holliday said.
Marshall has won six of the seven meetings since the series began in 2005. The Thundering Herd defeated UAB, 59-14, last year in Huntington.