Inside Marshall Sports

Grades for WVU game

OFFENSE: B
Flagged late, but 203 first-half yards almost exceeded 2009 game total and blew the 2008 mark away. And get this: There were actually big plays. The one fumble hurt, and there were just two first downs afterward.

DEFENSE: B-
Flagged late, obviously, after forcing two turnovers and having a fourth-down stand. But damn, Vinny Curry and Mario Harvey were beasts, weren’t they? Look for Curry to be Conference USA player of the week in a losing effort.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-
Johnny Jones had his second blocked FG in two weeks, and has six in his career, and it gave the Herd a short field for another score. Kase Whitehead had a very good day in punting, and WVU didn’t hurt the Herd on returns.

But… returns were not good (is it me, or is Andre Booker running tentatively?). Kickoffs were better after the ill-advised pooch kick (aren’t they all ill-advised?). But the overriding factor: the game ended on a missed field goal. You can’t phrase that any other way.

QUARTERBACKING: B+
This grade may be too low. BA didn’t do much wrong, really. Three TDs, no picks, no sacks and a 96-yard TD. But … take the one long pass and you have 19-of-28 for 133 yards … solid but unspectacular.

COACHING: C-
Give the staff major props for preparation, and for fostering major improvement from the Ohio State game. The emotion was there, certainly.

I will forever shake my head at Tron Martinez getting his first carries as the Herd was trying to put WVU away, and then fumbling. On a lesser note, I’m not sure why George Carpenter was there to whiff on Noel Devine on third-and-goal at the 4.

OVERALL: D
I saw a lot of encouraging things, as far as Marshall’s ability to contend against the rest of the schedule. But I also saw the Thundering Herd’s star-crossed fan base taken another kick in the … ribs. Doc Holliday is right about one thing: That’s unacceptable.

D.J. Wingate, Marques Aiken are OUT

Uh, oh… Big night possible for Geno Smith with D.J. out. … Rashad Jackson is first-string, with Ahmed Shakoor.

Kellen Harris looks fine in warmups.

Marshall basketball: C-USA sked, in part

I have been advised Marshall is holding off until *Sunday* to release its schedule. In the meantime, other schools in Conference USA have let theirs loose, and here is what I have compiled so far:

Jan. 5 at UCF
Jan. 15 at Memphis
Jan. 22 East Carolina
Jan. 29 Memphis
Feb. 9 UAB
Feb. 12 at East Carolina
Feb. 16 Rice
Feb. 26 at UAB
March 2 UTEP
March 5 UCF

What a bunch of comedians at the C-USA office… Making the Herd go visit DJ to start the league season, and making Herd fans take all season to get fired up for the return trip.

Notice there are a bunch of schools not yet checking in; hence the holes. Southern Miss, for example, has only released its nonconference schedule. Only Rice and UTEP in the West has released at this minute … Remember, the “mirror” teams now go along the lines of the football division.

Methinks Marshall is signing a final contract or two over the weekend to get that slate firmed up.

Boise State, The Game and other thoughts

I’ll say it: Congratulations on Boise State for making the upper crust of college football uncomfortable again.

It was funny to hear all last week on how the Broncos had not played before big crowds and how they were going to be overwhelmed by the Hokie faithful at FedEx Field.

I knew one thing, whether or not they had the horses to win: THEY DIDN’T CARE.

All their supposed small crowds last year were above average at the respective schools, and I’m sure they were jacked up over the thought of knocking off the WAC’s Godzilla. That’s the way it is, and it prepared the Broncos for anything.

(By the way, that Kellen Moore guy? He can run the two-minute offense, can’t he?)

The bad news: We are sentenced to a full season of people whining about Boise State’s schedule. I can recite it now, but I don’t have the energy.

But here’s the deal: I blame the hoity-toity BCS schools, not Boise, for that. Yes, I do.

If the big schools were more interested in giving their fans a good product instead of fattening up on cupcakes, Boise could have another beefier nonconference game or two. I see about a half-dozen SEC schools who could have invited the Broncos to play, and should have.

But instead, we have late-season “homecoming” opponents such as:

  • Georgia State (Alabama should be DQ’d from the BCS title game for that)
  • Chattanooga (Auburn)
  • Louisiana-Monroe (LSU)
  • Louisiana-Lafayette (OK, maybe it’s not a gimme for Ole Miss)
  • Idaho State (c’mon Georgia)
  • Charleston Southern (C’MON Kentucky)
  • Eastern Michigan (Vandy)

Outside the SEC, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the opportunity for one school to bring in this team instead of Coastal Carolina. Would have created a nice buzz around the state, don’t you think?

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It might be the same caller I cited in my Monday column, but some genius got on Hoppy K’s show to say WVU should drop Marshall and pick up Virginia Tech. Nobody seems to mention the Chanticleers in this discussion, do they?

You know, adding Virginia Tech would be a wise move … IF THE HOKIES WANTED TO PLAY. Last time I heard, Frank Beamer got tired of the poor treatment in Morgantown and wanted the series to end. … From experience, I can’t blame him.

It was tough to listen Hoppy while out in my car this morning, because the callers were quite the bit whiny. But give the host kudos for vigorously defending his decision to air Friday’s show from Huntington, at the Student Center fountain. As he said, that’s where the story is, whether you like it or not.

Not a good Thursday in C-USA

Ohio State 45, Marshall 7: Read my story and notebook, which were updated after our print deadline.

South Carolina 41, Southern Miss 13: The Eagles’ offense didn’t do much, either.

Florida Atlantic 32, UAB 31: Game-winning field goal was rejected.

Tulane 27, Southeastern Louisiana 21: Uh, oh. The Green Wave could wash into Huntington 1-10.

OFFENSE: F
The only thing worse than getting skunked is fumbling on your only trip to the red zone. Saw a lot of offensive linemen dropped on their keisters. 199 yards, 11 first downs, 2.1 yards per rush (with only one sack) … yuck, yuck, yuck. Can Troy Evans catch?

Andre Booker tried to do things he can do against Bowling Green. He would have scored against BG on one change of direction, but the Buckeyes stifled him at the line.

DEFENSE: D
Mario Harvey impressed me — again — but this unit really struggled. 17 plays of 10 or more yards, six of 20-plus, scoring plays of 45 and 65. Pass rush wasn’t great, secondary wasn’t great by any stretch. Rashad Jackson has been suspected of being a “practice superstar,” and he did nothing to prove otherwise. He changed to No. 5 and played corner like Willy Korn.

One mitigating factor: This unit was dealt a bad, bad hand early. A limited factor, yes, but you’ve got to help your defense out.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D
You get a 63-yard kickoff return and a blocked field goal for a touchdown and you should get a good grade, right? Well, Booker fumbles to start the game and the punt team commits FOUR penalties. Punts were less than 37 yards on average, with two double-digit returns. Missed field goal. Yuck.

QUARTERBACKING: D
I don’t know. Receivers betrayed BA at times, and there was a good pass rush on him. I’d like to see that pick-six again on video just to see how badly he forced it. Actually ran for a first down, but should never have run the other two times. Avoided sacks very well, considering.

COACHING: C-
Being a nice guy here, because the new staff was tackling a major task here. I liked what they did on the first possession of the second half; wish they did it earlier. … I think Lee Smith should have seen the ball more, even if the Buckeyes made it difficult … Martin Ward definitely looked the better RB.

OVERALL: F
Ohio State is good. Really, really good. This game doesn’t quite leave the bad taste of last year’s Virginia Tech game, but the start of the game was truly awful.

I thought of picking the Herd to beat WVU just to be a rabble-rouser, but I probably can’t do it.

Pregame at Ohio Stadium

Wayne Bonner did not make the trip, on an eligibility issue. The NCAA denied a waiver for unspecified circumstances, and Marshall is appealing. We’ll know the verdict by next week, but you never hold your breath… Kellen Harris is dressed and warming up with the other linebackers. He’s giving it a go.

A few quick thoughts, because I surely am not blogging in-game. Again, my deadlines are outrageous.

–This is my fourth game at The Horseshoe, two as a writer and two as a paying customer. There should never, ever be Thursday night games in Columbus. The traffic was murder.

What genius came up the Big Ten divisions? Let’s see: Ohio State, Illinois, Indiana, Penn State, … and I’m already starting to forget. I wonder if the division names will be as forgettable as the ACC’s “Atlantic” and “Coastal.”

Even worse, Ohio State and Michigan are separated, with means we could get two of those games in two weeks. Now, I’ve been at an Ohio State-Michigan game (1994), and there’s nothing like it. But we don’t need two in two weeks.

This shouldn’t have been hard. There are six teams in the Eastern Time Zone — Ohio State, Penn State, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State. Six are in the Central — Illinois, Northwestern, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. And don’t give me the “lopsided” crapola, either…

Thoughts on two-deep

Around the two-deep roster we go:

Quarterback — As expected. Once again, Eddie Sullivan doesn’t lose his redshirt until/unless he is needed to be The Man. No mop-up duty.

Running back — Martin Ward may have dropped for now because of that cast. But is there any drop-off to Andre Booker? Don’t think so.

Receivers — Aaron Dobson falls on lack of recent reps — and the sudden dependabilty of Wayne Bonner. The reinstated Jermaine Kelson is listed behind Troy Evans at “Y”, but Courtney Edmonson could go “H” or “Y” early. We shall see.

O-line — No surprises here. Having a true freshman on the two-deep (Garrett Scott, RT) is always disconcerting … Jordan Jeffries could move from LT to RT in a pinch, but such a transition is tougher than you might think — I’ve heard that from more than one tackle over the years. BIG ISSUE: Does Alex Schooler eventually overtake Landis Provancha at LT?

D-line — James Rouse and DeMetrius Thompson had a nice battle at DE, with Rouse now listed ahead. But the big news is Delvin Johnson listed over Michael Janac. Previously, I was very, very high on Delvin. Janac isn’t exactly going to be held off the field, either, and he can (and probably will) line up at end.

Linebacker — Kellen Harris falling to No. 3 MLB is a function of his hamstring-related rest this month. I’m starting to worry about Harris now — more than once have we seen a season messed up by an unhappy hammy.

Cornerbacks — Very interesting listing. I have heard Rashad Jackson (listed 3rd at one spot) will get nickel duty, which would play to his apparent strength in pass coverage. The big issue for Jackson: Did he make hay by jumping familiar routes in camp, or is he the real deal?

Safeties — Brown and Brown, KP and … Pete Culicerto? Hmmmm …

Kicker — It was Justin Haig’s job to lose, and he booted it — wide right. Tyler Warner got better as camp wore on.

Snapper — Having an MLB, Tyson Gale, do those chores is unusual to say the least. James Power disappointed coaches.

Punter — May the force be with Kase Whitehead.

Kick returners — Andre Booker, Troy Evans. Yeah, they’ll work.

Six days to gameday … thank God.

Hamrick on Buckeye tickets

Just got off the horn with the AD, Mike Hamrick, and he’s a little bit caught off guard by the Columbus Dispatch asssertion that Marshall received 4,000 tickets and returned 1,000. He says MU didn’t return any.

Here’s what he tells me: The ticket office requested just over 3,000 and sold them all. Neither Hamrick nor his ticket manager know where the 4K figure came from. … is that what Ohio State typically offers Big Ten  foes, or ????

Here’s the part where I could have a beef: You had to be a $600 donor to buy those tickets. For some reason, I had a lower threshold in my mind.

Hamrick did  say several donors upped their donation to meet that threshold. … In any event, I am disappointed there won’t be more green in Columbus.

Little hoops, some more footy

Catching up on basketball … I guess the Herd didn’t get LeBron, right? Hey, his clock hasn’t started yet!

The big news is this: Much of the Henderson Center projects have  been finished including the lighting. There is NO MORE BUZZING! That was the only thing more abominable than the pooch kickoff at UCF.

The 14 scholarship players could get down to 13 in a hurry. Things may or may not work out for one of the juco imports. As you know, issues can and do pop up with those … Johnny Higgins is said to be fine, though.

… Summer school went well, with players racking up a 3.1 combined GPA, but there may be a touchy issue or two among the returning crew. We’ll see…

Looks like coach Tom Herrion and AD Mike Hamrick are going to have to take a deep breath and bring in two non-Div I foes to the Cam. Good news: I’ve heard who and I can safely bet they’re better than Rio Grande, Brescia and Salem International. … and they won’t cross state lines to get here.

Back to football. I wondered where Marshall was on its opponents’ schedule — in other words, what game they’ll come off of and who they play next. The chart follows:

Sept. 2 at Ohio State (Opener. Next: Miami, 9 days later.)
Sept. 10 West Virginia (Short week, but after Coastal Carolina. Next: Maryland)
Sept. 18 at Bowling Green (At Tulsa. Next: At Michigan.)
Sept. 25 Ohio (At Ohio State. Next: At Eastern Michigan.)

Oct. 2 at Southern Miss (At Louisiana Tech. Next: East Carolina)
Oct. 13 Central Florida (UAB, on Wednesday the 6th. Next: Rice, 10 days later)
Oct. 23 East Carolina (N.C. State. Next: at UCF … wow)
Oct. 30 UTEP (Tulane. Next: SMU)

Nov. 6 at UAB (at Southern Miss. Next: East Carolina, 5 days later)
Nov. 13 Memphis (Tennessee. Next: at UAB, the Battle for the Bones)
Nov. 20 at SMU (OFF WEEK after at UTEP. Next: at East Carolina, 6 days later)
Nov. 27 Tulane (UCF. Next: Season over.)

By my count, six MU opponents will be coming off tough games. WVU is certainly not one of them — I would perforate MU officials for scheduling Coastal Carolina. East Carolina will be slogging through it when the Herd arrives in Greenville, so that makes it very interesting. Worst break: SMU getting two weeks before the Herd’s seventh trip to the Lone Star State. Ugh.