It’s a win. That was exactly the thought that Marshall Football head coach Doc Holliday had as his team boarded the bus to head back to Huntington after knocking off Miami 42-27 in Oxford.
Was the win pretty? Not a chance.
Will the Herd gain any style points for its 42 points scored? Not in this lifetime.
Will this game help the Herd later down the road? Very possible.
I have heard so many complaints and remarks about how Marshall should have destroyed this team but failed to do so. After all, Marshall led 28-3 at the half only to be outscored 24-14 in the second half.
But for everyone who is ready to jump ship on the Herd’s march towards perfection I offer you this. The last time Marshall won a season opener on the road was at Clemson in 1999, 13-10.
That was the same year the Herd finished 13-0, won the MAC Championship and defeated BYU 21-3 in the Motor City Bowl.
Do not take me wrong, I am not saying Miami (Ohio) is Clemson in any case, but does anyone remember what the Tigers finished that season?
Try 6-6 with the sixth loss coming to Mississippi State in the Peach Bowl.
What if Miami finishes 6-6 and makes a bowl? Then Saturday’s game has a whole new meaning.
After watching the potential the RedHawks have this season, I think it is a possibility.
Andrew Hendrix makes Miami a totally different team than that of the one that was beat down 52-14 in Huntington last season. Yes many of the skill players returned that played last year, but that was with a totally different quarterback and coaching staff.
Hendrix makes this team a competitor, and now. Add his fellow Notre Dame transfer tight end Alex Welch to the mix of receivers Rokeem Williams, David Frazier and Dawan Scott and Hendrix has some real threats to sling the ball to.
Not to mention Hendrix is dangerous with his running ability as well.
Marshall should have finished off the RedHawks when it had possession to open the third quarter. But a costly fumble by Deandre Reaves gave Miami something that it so desperately needed, hope.
If Marshall does not fumble on that drive and punches another score into the endzone, game over! The only fans left in Yager Stadium would have been those wearing green and white. But not only did the RedHawks get hope, so did the fans. Even if it was only a glimmer, there was something to fight for and Miami did just that.
But Marshall did one thing to combat the Miami surge, it never panicked. Not once did the body language of any of the Herd players show signs of trouble or concern. Instead, it was business as usual. In other words, Marshall stared not only adversity, but road adversity dead in the eye, and the Herd never blinked.
Week one is always the toughest week of the season. So many variables and intangibles play into the outcome of the opening week.
But as Holliday said, “the most improvement you’ll make in a game is from game one to game two and we’ve got to make sure we do that.”
That seemed to be the case in 1999 after Marshall had its lowest scoring game of the season in game one.
How did the Herd fare after that? It outscored its opponents 450-127 over the next 12 games. I think one could call that an improvement.
Marshall’s second game of the 1999 season should be much like the game the Herd plays this Saturday as its home opener, a beat down. Marshall rolled Liberty 63-3 at Joan C. Edwards Stadium on its way to a perfect season.
The Herd should do much of the same Saturday against Rhode Island.
At this point in the season, who really cares if the win has the sex appeal the voters want to see or is ugly at best. The most important thing is winning. Half the teams that played this past weekend lost. Marshall is not in that category.
Marshall won and its hopes of an undefeated season are still alive. Priority number one earns a check.
So before one throws the season down the toilet just because the team played below expectations in week one stop and ask is there a difference in a 45-3 win compared to 42-27?
Only if Marshall should lose a game this season and entering week two, the Herd is 1-0.
Merely half the teams in college football can say that, and Marshall is in that half.