Hello, Herd fans!
Enough joy over finally beating an FBS foe. Enough joy about being a loss out of the East Division lead. The cold, cruel truth is this: There is no team you can say Marshall will absolutely beat under any circumstances.
Believe it or not, that includes Charlotte.
The 49ers have some intangibles, starting with an enormous senior class. That includes 19 fifth-year players who started with the program in 2012, a year before the program’s first game.
Talented? In some cases, not really. Experienced? You betcha.
There’s just enough top-level talent to make this team interesting — nose guard Larry Ogunjobi and running back Kalif Phillips among them. The way the 49ers’ coaches handle the 3-4 defense is to maximize Ogunjobi’s ability, making him more than a space-eater. He is a future NFLer who can disrupt the run and rush the passer.
And then there is the introduction of Hasaan Klugh, who appears to pack more talent than every 49er quarterback in four years, combined. Sure, Marshall has played the ultimate dual-threat QB in Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, but Klugh will be be a plenty difficult test.
It’s still tough to get a handle on this Marshall team. For me, the most encouraging aspects of the Thundering Herd’s 27-21 win over Florida Atlantic are: (1) Chase Litton settling down and hitting every target available, (2) running for tough yards when needed, if not consistently, and (3) Chris Jackson not being a weak link defensively.
With a trip to Southern Mississippi on the horizon, Marshall needs something more than a come-from-behind-late victory. My guess? The Herd needs to clamp down on Klugh and force him into 2 or 3 key mistakes, and then keep Phillips under 125 rushing yards.
Holding the 49ers to 21 points — that should always result in a win — isn’t too much to ask. Finally reaching into the 30s isn’t too much for the Herd offense.
I may be exuding too much confidence, but this is what the Herd can do, and what it will do.
MARSHALL 34, CHARLOTTE 17