Inside Marshall Sports

Herd wearing the (kelly) green at SMU

Uh, oh. The Mustangs have called a “white-out,” with the home team donning white. LSU is the only college team that should wear white at home, IMHO.

What do ya say the Herd goes “pea pod” and wears green jerseys and green pants? Like it should have been wearing against Central Florida?

It’s SMU week

A few things about the Mustangs:

1. They are coming off a bye week, which gave them an extra 7 days to grouse over a disastrous 28-14 loss at UTEP. You never know for sure, but that appears to be a plus for SMU.

2. They blew a chance to tighten their grip on the West Division, but were handed full control of their destiny when Houston lost to Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane and Mustangs are tied at 5-2, but SMU won 21-18 … took a 21-7 lead in that game, Tulsa scored with 6-plus minutes to get within a field goal and the Mustangs successfully ran out the clock. (Once again, you do that by getting first downs, not running up the middle 3 times.)

3. Shocking development, considering June Jones is the coach: SMU is ranked higher in scoring defense than it is in scoring offense. … though it is 2nd in total offense in C-USA play.

4. They run the ball. Really — Zach Line needs 28 yards to be the first C-USA rusher to 1,000 yards. They are ahead in time of possession, a stat pass-happy offenses really don’t worry about. Something to watch: Line banged up his hip against UTEP, though he has had time to heal.

5. Don’t worry, they can still pass. In league action, Kyle Padron leads the league at 304 yards per game, and Aldrick Robinson leads with 121.8 receiving yards — and 21.5 yards a catch. Cole Beasley is 3rd at 92.7.

6. Gerald J. Ford is one of the very nicest venues in the league. Announced attendance averages 22,000, bumped by an over-capacity 35,000-plus against TCU. We’ll see upper teens announced, perhaps mid-teens on hand.

7. These guys are buried, buried, buried in the Dallas sports scene. It’s the Cowboys, Longhorns, Aggies, Rangers, Cowboys, Mavericks, Cowboys, Stars, Cowboys, high school football, MLS team, Cowboys, rodeo, golf, Cowboys, Cowboys, then SMU. Only Rice is buried as badly in its market. You may find a half-dozen high school playoff games outdrawing MU-SMU. … During the 2006 trip, Flower Mound-Flower Mound Marcus brought 36K to Texas Stadium.

8.  Weather forecast: 76 ‘n’ mostly sunny. That reminds me: The 2006 game was on Oct. 13 or thereabouts, under similar conditions. That day, the Miami (Ohio) at Buffalo game was postponed a day because of a foot-plus of lake-effect snow. God bless the MAC.

UAB articles over the weekend

As you may know, the Blazers upended Southern Miss 50-49 in double overtime, at “The Rock,” no less.

From Steve Irvine of The Birmingham News: Game story; notes and grades from Irvine.

The Hattiesburg American angle isn’t bad reading, either.

This is a good roadie, if you want to do it: 532 miles from Edwards Stadium to Legion Field and PLENTY of tickets available.

From last week: My fav Ruffin McNeil story

Thought this would be an appropriate contrast to what you may have seen elsewhere today.

And if I ever bellyache about a team running up the score in a 37-10 game, I want somebody to beat me senseless with a 2×4.

ECU apologizes for mistreating N.C. State

A classy gesture, for sure … I’m going to let Marshall fans fill in the blanks here.

The release.

Grades for UCF game

(just cleaned it up… long daggone night)

OFFENSE: D

Genereous grade pulled up by Aaron Dobson’s two great touchdown catches. Running game was dead from the outset. Wilson was locked down, etc.

DEFENSE: D

Just got pounded up the middle by Ronnie Weaver, and the tackling disintegrated as the game wore on. QB draws near the goal line are automatic scores. UCF was 5-for-5 on third downs in the first quarter, 5-for-12 afterward. Didn’t let Jeff Godfrey kill it, though, as UAB did last week.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F

Kase Whitehead should go rugby punt as often as he can. Otherwise … This unit was wretched, as it has been all year.

QUARTERBACKING: D

Raised it from F because these guys somehow avoided a sack and did get some momentum before the delay. But the situation has deteriorated and BA threw his fourth “pick six.” This is getting painful.

COACHING: D

I don’t know … I just don’t know. I’m not sure I could have called the offense any better with the personnel, but I would *not* have called BA on the option against those defensive ends.

OVERALL: F

Do not ever, ever, ever, ever, ever put the Herd in white unis at home again. Never!

UCF pregame (7:31 p.m.)

A.J. Graham is not out warming up, but he is in his jersey, with a single crutch… … doesn’t mean he’s not out, but he’s certainly not warming up … noticed John Bruhin in a 64 for the first time in a while. … CHRIS BOWERS is in shorts, so he won’t be available… Mr. Schofield had better stay in one piece…

Looks like Landis Provancha is back starting at right guard.

Check the Huntington and national radar if you get a chance … it could get ugly, with our ridiculous deadline and all…

First, the development out of Orlando with the kicking game. G’bye, Nick Cattoi?

Here is a good look at how UCF may try to handle Marshall’s defense, which clearly wants the Knights to beat them through the air.

… About the white-out. I kinda like those, but I’m not crazy about the players playing with the white unis. I’ve watched the Herd play three games with three jerseys and it hasn’t been pretty… And if you saw the print Gazette today and saw the quote of the day, UCF is barking about being able to wear black. … If you believe in those things, that’s a bad, bad play.

(I asked Mike Hamrick if he had burned Brian Anderson’s white jersey and issued him a new one. I was only half-joking.)

Enjoy the game and wish me luck…

Penalties from USM game

The large number of penalties was memorable for several reasons.

Of course, they contributed to Marshall’s poor performance. Here is the itemized rundown:
1. Michael Janace offsides on 3rd-and-12, giving Southern Miss a 3rd-and-7. Very bad penalty, contributed to a touchdown.

1A. Personal foul on the kickoff, offset by a Southern Miss facemask foul.

1B. Offsides on the kickoff return team, if you can believe it. That foul was declined, as Troy Evans only made the 26.

2. In second quarter, Rashad Jackson’s illegal block. Evans returned the ball 10 yards to the MU 30, but the penalty went from the 18 to the 9. The Herd then goes 3-and-out, Kase Whitehead hits a short punt and it’s eventually 21-0.

3. Monterius Lovett is all over Dominique Sullivan for pass interference on second-and-goal from the MU 3. Automatic first down at the 2, just before the Eagles go up 21-0.

4. C.J. Crawford illegal block on the next kickoff return. Half the distance and the Herd starts from the 6. 3-and-out, blocket punt, argh.

5. Brandon Campbell false start No. 1, turning 2nd-and-4 into 2nd-and-9. Drive killer.

6. 3rd quarter, after A.J. Graham gets his first third down, Campbell commits false start No. 2. The Herd had no prayer when it got behind the stakes, so this was a drive-killer.

7. Jerome Kelson commits a personal foul on a kickoff, giving Southern Miss the ball at its 35.

8. Campbell gets the hat trick of false starts to start the fourth quarter. Herd has 1st-and-15.

9. Campbell then holds on a Graham scramble. Now it’s 1st-and-25.

10. Given new life after a USM personal foul, Alex Schooler clips, the 15-yard version. 1st-and-25.

11. Martin Ward commits a personal foul, and he deserved one the play before. After that, it’s 2nd-and-39.

12. Holding to start the Herd’s final drive, leading to a 3-and-out.

That’s 12 penalties for 112 yards, and it all hurt. Call it a breakdown in discipline, etc., and you’d be right.

But if you win by 25 points and rack up 130 yards on 11 penalties, I guess that means you’re aggressive. And it was the case with Southern Miss, who committed 5 personal fouls and my favorite, an unsportsmanlike conduct on the coin toss.

I won’t comment further, except to say this: The teams are starting to dislike each other. I did a column, 2009 I think, on how these rivalries needed a little time to brew from scratch, such as Furman, App State etc., back in the day … I think you’ll find this a good example.

Southern Miss pregame

First, it looks like Drew Stewart is chatting it up with coaches, graduate assistants, etc. He is going to handle kickoffs, wearing No. 81. … Alex Schooler is starting his second straight game at left guard, with Landis Provancha out.

For Southern Miss, DeAndre Brown is wearing blue jeans. I don’t think that’s part of the uniform. He’s out.

… enjoy the game… I will be sending right at the final gun tonight… May put some extra coverage on the Web afterward, we’ll see.

Off to Southern Miss

The week’s work is in the can, and it’s time to shuffle off to Southern Mississippi.

This is one of my favorite venues in Conference USA. As I often say, Hattiesburg is much like Huntington: Same type town, compact campus and off-campus area, same type stadium, same time fan base. The key differences are terrain, climate and nearly primitive air service.

The only commercial flights into Hattiesburg are a few Delta runs from Memphis, last I checked. They were Northwest flights, taken in with that merger. … and the only way you’re flying direct into Memphis is in the cargo hold of a FedEx plane from Huntington.

It’s about 13 hours if you want to make that investment … flight-wise, your options are Jackson, Mobile, New Orleans (maybe better fare but longer trip in) and … Gulfport/Biloxi, which was cheaper for the first time in my 3 trips. That, my friends, will be hazardous duty.

If you’re in Hattiesburg, the recommendation for ribs is Letha’s, hands down. Finding it is half the fun, but you won’t believe the price for what you get.

On to football, and my fearless prediction: Freakish Southern Miss receiver DeAndre Brown will not play.

The word out of Hattiesburg has been that Brown is day-to-day with a “lower leg strain.” After a few days of writing that sentence, my red flags are flying all over the place. Should have qualified that with quote marks or something, as I just did.

Coaches can get weird when star players get injured. In defense of the Golden Eagles, it is a good idea to plant the seed in Marshall’s head that Brown will play — preparation time is finite, even on the Rich Rodriguez calendar, and the Herd has given up some big, big plays to the big man.

I usually listen to Steve Cotton when he visits The Morning News on Friday. Today, he theorized that Brown might just have a stress fracture. That’s a good theory, but I’m going to throw in another one.

How ’bout one of the most dreaded nagging injuries in football: Wait for it … the high ankle sprain.

Think about it: Those put you day-to-day for weeks, or so has been my observation. If you’re talking to the public, what phrase triggers more anxiety: “lower leg strain” or “high ankle sprain”?

Remember, it’s just a theory … Something we’ll be watching for in pregame warmups.