HUNTINGTON — This week has all the makings of a mentally tough situation for the Herd.
Marshall is coming off a hard-fought 20-9 win over Florida Atlantic in which the Herd didn’t perform at the top of its game in certain areas, but still got the win.
That win continued the Herd’s hot start to move the team to 5-0 and put them in outright possession of first place in Conference USA’s East Division race.
The team also is heading back on the road in Conference USA to face an FIU team that has talent, but fell 19-10 to FCS member Jacksonville State on Friday night.
Marshall head coach Doc Holliday, who preaches to his team about complacency each week, said the Herd has to turn the page from the FAU win quickly and put all its energy into its matchup with FIU, who took the Herd to overtime in Huntington last season.
Holliday has confidence that his team will do just that, citing the veteran presence surrounding his team.
“It’s called maturity, it’s called leadership,” Holliday said. “We’ve got a lot of kids on this football team who have played an awful lot of football. They’re locked in. The leadership on this football team is as good as any football team I’ve been on here at Marshall or anywhere.”
Last season, Marshall was also in control of its own Conference USA East Division destiny after defeating Florida Atlantic.
However, in the second-to-last game of the regular season, the Herd traveled to Charlotte and fell to the 49ers, which put FAU back in first place in the division.
The Owls went on to win the Conference USA title, which Holliday saw was a big lesson for his team as they enter that territory once again in 2020.
“Kids take ownership in the team and they understand the importance that you’ve got to play every week,” Holliday said. “At the end of the day, if you don’t (come to) play every week, somebody’s going to get beat.”
Marshall’s focus will be tested as they take on a winless FIU team that is coming off a 19-10 loss to FCS member Jacksonville State.
FIU’s rushing attack was one that was thought to be a point of strength coming into the season. However, the Panthers were limited to just 72 rushing yards on Friday night.
The Panthers’ roster was depleted due to injuries and the effects of COVID-19, which had several FIU players out for the loss, including six key offensive contributors.
While the status of those players is not known moving forward, Holliday said the Herd’s main focus is about correcting the mistakes seen from the Florida Atlantic tape and continuing to win games.
“We’re happy where we are,” Holliday said. “We know we’re still right on track and we have a great challenge going to Miami this week.”