Now the Owls and Thundering Herd will try to stop each others running attacks in Huntington, W. Va., on Saturday.
Winning at Marshall, traditionally a Conference USA front runner, has proved impossible for FAU. The Herd defeated FAU 27-21 during the last meeting in Huntington, in 2016, courtesy of a Keion Davis TD run in the closing minutes. Marshall blew out FAU 35-16 in the only other previous meeting in Huntington behind 328 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns from Devon Johnson. Three of those runs covered more than 50 yards.
Last season at Howard Schnellenberger Field, Marshall gave FAU its only true test in C-USA play, before falling 30-25.
The conference title hopes for both team received a boost on Saturday when FIU knocked off MTSU, creating a logjam of one-loss teams in C-USA’s East Division behind the undefeated-in-conference Panthers. FAU and Marshall play FIU later this season.
THE FILE: Marshall Thundering Herd (4-2, 2-1)
The Thundering Herd battled through injuries to their quarterback and running back already this season to post four wins. Turnovers plagued Marshall in the first half of the season. The Herd didn’t commit one in a season-opening victory over Miami (Ohio), but proceeded to turn the ball over 15 times over their next five games. Averaging 28.8 points per game, Marshall ranks No. 5 among Conference USA teams in scoring offense.
Offensive Players to Watch:
- 6 Alex Thomson, QB, R-Jr: The transfer from Wagner became the starter two weeks ago when Isaiah Green went down with an injury. In those two starts he’s thrown for a combined 355 yards and two touchdowns against three interceptions. Green didn’t make the trip with the team to ODU on Friday. His injury situation with worth monitoring this week.
- 3 Tyler King, RB, R-So: Like Thomson, King is also making the most of increased playing time precipitated by an injury. As the starting running back the last two weeks, King broke the 100-yard barrier both times. Against Old Dominion King rushed for 195 yards and two scores. His backup, Anthony Anderson, rushed for 91 yards and three scores in that game. King led Marshall with 72 rushing yards in least year’s match-up. Davis, who scored the game-winning TD two years ago, began the season as the starting running back, but his status remains uncertain for Saturday’s game.
- 8 Tyre Brady, WR, R-Sr: The 6-foot-3, 206 pounder is Thomson’s safety blanket. Thomson targeted Brady 14 times out of 22 first-half passes against ODU. Brady leads Marshall in catches (41), receiving yards (530) and touchdown receptions (6). No other Marshall pass catcher is anywhere close in those categories. He caught eight passes for 82 yards last year against the Owls.
First-year defensive coordinator Adam Fuller didn’t make many changes to Marshall’s base 4-3 defense but he did make one noteworthy tweak. He created what they call the “Fox” position, which is a hybrid defensive end/linebacker, employed much the same way FAU uses Leighton McCarthy. The Thundering Herd are allowing 379.8 yards and 25.3 points per game – both averages place them in the middle of Conference USA rankings.
Defensive Players to Watch:
- 37 Chase Hancock, LB, R-Sr: The weak side linebacker leads Marshall with 59 tackles, third most in Conference USA. He’s recorded 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 of which came on sacks. Hancock is also strong in pass coverage, credited with four pass breakups this season. He led Marshall with 11 tackles last season against FAU.
- 3 Chris Jackson, CB, Jr: The Tallahassee native doesn’t have an interception yet this season, but he does have five in his career. His 40 tackles are third-most for the Thundering Herd this season, and his seven pass breakups tie for the most on the team.
- 6 Marquis Couch, Fox, R-Jr: The 6-foot-1, 233-pound Couch had been primarily a defensive end during his time at Marshall until Fuller created the Fox position. He only has 19 tackles on the season, but 3.5 of them went for a loss. He recorded two tackles in last year’s game against FAU.