Cyrus Smith covers Conference USA for SBNation’s Underdog Dynasty and was kind of enough to give his perspective on Marshall, ahead of Saturday’s road game for the Bearcats.
1. Marshall has won 80% of their games at Joan C Edwards Stadium all-time. What makes it such a tough place for road teams to win?
Well the lack of tough competition has certainly helped Marshall’s home record as C-USA was significantly hampered by the latest round of realignment in the early going. With that said, Marshall has one of the strongest fan bases in college football. Even when the Herd is down, The Joan is still one of the more intimidating venues in C-USA. When the Herd are actually good, your average C-USA team can pretty much forget about winning there. While their reputation of being a tough venue is well deserved, since 2016 Marshall has lost at least two games a season at home so it’s not an impossible venue to overcome.
2. QB Isaiah Green looks good so far and is on pace to exceed his numbers from 2018. What have you seen different from Green in 2018 vs 2019? what improvements has he made?
The Boise State game notwithstanding, Isaiah Green just looks more experienced. He doesn’t flee the pocket at the slightest sign of danger and at least for now, he looks to be a much more accurate passer. The weapons around him aren’t as explosive as last year, but the Marshall offense still looks to be in a better place and the main reason is because of Green.
3. At 2-1, with a tough loss at Boise and nice win vs Ohio, what have you learned about the Herd in 2019?
While the Boise State game was a huge letdown on offense, the defense proved that they are capable of being one of the best units in C-USA as they had a few new starters in the front seven this year and they aren’t missing a beat. Frankly, there isn’t going to be a more intimidating venue in C-USA than going on the road to Boise State. While the Herd did lose, that game convinced me that Marshall has the goods to win C-USA. The win over MAC favorite Ohio confirmed that the offense isn’t completely broken and can be relied on to carry the team during conference play. They can compete in a low scoring affair, or a shootout. That type of versatility will be needed as the season progresses.
4. What strengths does Marshall possess that will make life difficult for Cincinnati?
Due to Cincy’s struggles on offense this year, Marshall’s defense will be a challenge. They have a future NFL player in Marquis Couch on the defensive line who is very disruptive. With him holding blocks, linebackers Omari Cobb and Tavante Beckett have been allowed to roam free and cause havoc. Cincy’s offensive line has struggled this season and that could continue on Saturday.
5. What were the expectations for Marshall coming into 2019? And have those changed after 3 games?
Marshall was picked to win C-USA East this season. Three games in and I see no reason why they won’t be among the better teams in the conference. The front seven is stout, running back Brenden Knox is a stud, and Isaiah Green looks much improved as a second-year starter. A 9-3/10-2 regular season is certainly on the table.
6. What are your expectations/prediction for Cincinnati vs Marshall on Saturday?
Both teams have had two weeks to prepare so I’m interested in seeing if either coach has some trick plays up their sleeve. Marshall head coach Doc Holliday has been notoriously bad after bye weeks during the regular season so a loss to a solid Cincy team is what I would put money on. The key to the game will be field position and turnovers as I see a low scoring game.
7. What are your thoughts about the game being on Facebook on Saturday?
Fans of C-USA have gotten quite used to watching a couple games a year through Stadium on Facebook. It’s a unique experience for sure. You will certainly find yourself laughing at a few comments during the game. The production is good, and the idea of no commercials, just shots of fans and other stadium shenanigans is an interesting way to consume a football game. With that said, I hate Facebook so my excitement is tempered as I have to use that app.