Marshall faces Memphis’ passing attack

Published 12:57 pm Friday, September 12, 2008


HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The one thing Marshall coach Mark Snyder doesn’t want to see is the Thundering Herd getting lost in space.

The vaunted passing game of the Memphis Tigers spreads out opposing defenses and forces defenders to try and make tackles in large, unoccupied areas.

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“The key for us this week is how our corners play and how we tackle in space. This will be the first game that we have a chance to tackle in space,” said Snyder.

“They do a great job of using the whole field, sideline to sideline and, obviously, they are going to take a bunch of vertical shots down the field, so that will be our challenge defensively.”

The space Marshall (1-1) will try to occupy is James F. Edwards Field at Joan Edwards Stadium when the Herd hosts Memphis at 7 p.m. Saturday in the first Conference USA game of the season.

Memphis is 0-2 after losing at Mississippi 41-24 and watching Rice score on a 69-yad interception return with 11 seconds left to beat the Tigers 42-35.

Last year Memphis rallied past the Herd 24-21 in a game played on 48 hours after Tigers’ defensive lineman Taylor Bradford died.

“It was a tough one to swallow,” said Snyder. “Probably similar to the one (Memphis coach) Tommy (West) had last week. Their kids played well and made one more play than we did.”

The Marshall defense will be tested again. The Tigers are ranked 20th in the nation in total offense with 488 yards per game and their 638 passing yards ranked them 11th nationally.

Quarterback Arkelon Hall has a pair of talented 6-foot-4 receivers in Maurice Jones and Duke Calhoun.

Hall threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns last week. Jones had nine catches for 173 yards and two TDs, both career highs.

“(Hall) does not take a bunch of hits or allow a lot of sacks because the ball does come out quick,” said Snyder. “Fortunately for us we have a little bit of depth on defense now and part of that offense is to try to tire you out by throwing from sideline to sideline.

“This is the best receiving corps we will face all year, bar none.”

While Memphis has been able to put points on the scoreboard, so have their opponents. Snyder said part of the reason is due to the Tigers’ ability to score quickly which puts the defense on the field for extended amounts of time.

“I think the are very athletic on defense. They do some good things and are very sound in what they are doing,” said Snyder.

“Big plays and quarterback runs have hurt them because they are playing a bunch of different concepts coverage-wise.”

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