Memphis Takes on Marshall Saturday
Nov. 2, 2012
Despite coming off its lowest total offensive production of the season last week, Marshall has one of the most prolific offenses in NCAA football. On Saturday, the Tigers of Memphis will look to become the second straight opponent to slow the Thundering Herd while generating more offense of their own.
Conference USA East Division leader UCF held Marshall to a season-low 364 yards of total offense last week. The Herd enters this week ranked fifth nationally in total offense (542.9 yards) and second in passing offense (378.50 yards). The Herd leads C-USA in scoring (39.9 points per game) and total offense (542.9 yards) but is giving up 493 yards an outing.
The Last Meeting
November 17, 2011
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
"They played Rice right before we played Rice," Fuente said. "Our offensive staff was watching the Rice defense versus Marshall's offense, and it was just remarkable how quick they were - up-tempo, speed and the quarterback was really playing well. They've got good players and a good scheme, and that makes for a tough combination."
Marshall enters the week with a 3-5 overall record and has had a roller-coaster ride in conference play, going 2-2 through the first half of league play.
"We've put the last game behind us," said Marshall head coach Doc Holliday of last week's 54-17 loss to UCF. "It's important that our guys have a short memory and we move on and prepare for a Memphis team that has a new coach and has them playing extremely hard. You watch those guys play, they don't look like a 1-7 team."
In addition to a 1-7 overall mark, the Tigers are 1-3 in Conference USA play.
Kickoff on Saturday is slated for 2 p.m. Eastern Time/1 p.m. Central and will be broadcast on the Memphis Radio Network and flagship station WREC 600 as well as streamed at GoTigersGo.com's All-Access site.
Marshall will look to rebound from last week's loss and can become bowl-eligible with a victory against the Tigers.
"It's important that we go out there and take care of ourselves," Holliday said. "We have to make the plays that we've been making all year. Offensively, all year long we've made plays and last week we didn't do that. We have to make sure we get back into doing that this week."
The Thundering Herd's offense starts with sophomore quarterback Rakeem Cato who leads the nation with 2,949 passing yards, completing 284-of-416 passes. He has thrown 23 touchdown passes this year.
"(Cato) plays really well and throws the ball down the field a lot," Fuente said. "He has got good players around him and has made some good decisions. He's athletic and gets out of trouble. He's really good in their scheme."
Cato's leading receiver is Tommy Shuler who has caught a nation-leading 77 passes for 737 yards. The tandem played with one another at Miami, Fla., Central High School.
Memphis will look to pressure the Herd with a defensive unit which has made substantial strides from a year ago. Through eight games this year, Memphis has dropped its total defense yardage by better than 70 yards from this point in the season last year. The Tigers were ranked 118th in total defense at this point in 2011 and this year ranks 85th.
The Tigers' defensive pressure has been led by sophomore defensive end Martin Ifedi who was named to the midseason watch list for the 2012 Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award on Thursday. One of three Conference USA players named to the watch list, Ifedi is currently tied for 21st nationally in quarterback sacks with a 0.88 per-game average. Ifedi has posted seven quarterback sacks and 9 ½ tackles for lost yards.
Against SMU last week, Ifedi led the Tigers with seven tackles. Including 2 ½ sacks for seven lost yards. He also he tallied three tackles for lost yards and forced a fumble against the Mustangs.
Fuente said the Tigers will have to take on Marshall's offensive pace head on as a team.
"Offensively, you have to meet that challenge," he said. "We have to do a great job running the football and giving our guys on the other side of the ball an opportunity to rest. If you're not careful, those are the things that can mount up on you in a game like that. If you continue to give them opportunities, give them the ball right back and give them short fields, they're just going to continue to keep plugging away. It's going to be a team challenge."
Memphis will look for more offensive production from its running backs.
As a unit, Memphis' offense will look to improve on last week's 202 yards of total offense. The Tigers have amassed less than 300 yards of offense in four of the team's last five games.
Following Saturday's road trip to Marshall, the Tigers close out the season with two of their final three at home including a Nov. 10 game against Tulane.
More on the Ted Hendricks Award
Now in its eleventh season, the Ted Hendricks Award is named in honor of college football's first three-time, first-team All-American. As a defensive end at the University of Miami, Hendricks used his agility, height and reach to block passes and kicks, force interceptions and pressure quarterbacks and running backs. He roamed the front line, read plays and blitzed on impulse, completely transforming the way the defensive end position was played. His professional career spanned 15 years and 215 consecutive games. It included four Super Bowl victories, eight Pro Bowl selections and inductions into the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame. It is in the spirit of Ted Hendricks' aggressive style of play, winning attitude and determination that the Defensive End of the Year Award for college football's premier defensive end is presented.
On-field performance, exceptional winning attitude, leadership abilities, contributions to school and community and academic preparedness are some of the criteria used to determine the Award's winner. Members of the national media, head coaches, professional scouts and former winners are included in the Award's voting committee. Candidates may represent any class (Freshman through Senior) as well as any four-year NCAA accredited school. The candidate's primary position must be Defensive End.