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Let’s Get It Started

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The preliminaries are over. It’s time to get down to business.

The Marshall Thundering Herd has enjoyed a 2-1 start this season, but they won’t have time to enjoy it as they brace for the start of Conference USA play on Saturday with a road trip to face the Memphis Tigers.

Herd coach Mark Snyder hopes to use last week’s 17-10 non-conference win over Bowling Green to prepare his team.

“Our kids came to play and now we have a little momentum going into conference plays as we head down to the Liberty Bowl,” said Snyder. “Any time you get into conference play it is just different. This starts confence play and I think our guys are excited about it.”

“(Bowling Green) is very comparable to a bunch of the teams we will face.”

Memphis (1-2) opened with a 41-14 thrashing of Tennessee-Martin before losses to Middle Tennessee (31-14) and No. 4-ranked Mississippi (45-14).

Against UT-Martin, quarterback Tyler Bass was 22 of 28 for 293 yards and four touchdowns. On the season he is 26 of 32 for 326 yards.

Bass has shared the quarterback duties with Arkelon Hall who is 29 of 55 for 212 yards. Bass has thrown one interception and Hall has three picks.

“Bass will take off running with the football. They run him a little bit more than they do Hall,” said Snyder. “It sounds like coach (Tommy) West thinks he’s a little bit of a better thrower, too.”

On the receiving end of their quarterbacks’ attempts have been 6-foot-4, 205-pound Duke Calhoun and the 6-9, 230-pound Carlos Singleton.

Calhoun leads the team with 18 catches for 254 yards and a score. Singleton is next with eight grabs for 112 yards and two TDs.

Also in the mix is Steven Joachim (6-4, 215) with six receptions for 74 yards and a score.

Snyder said the group creates a problem for the smaller Herd secondary.

“We are going to have to rise to the occasion, excuse the pun, because they are tall and explosive,” said Snyder. “Singleton is the guy that they go to and he is very effective in the red zone. The other two guys are their speed guys who also create mismatches. (Wide receiver) has been their forte.”

Despite the shorter players in the Herd secondary, Snyder has confidence in Marshall’s players.

“They need to go to the hardware store and buy a ladded, carry it with them on the field, climb up it and knock down the ball,” said a joking Snyder.

“You really need to have great leaping ability, great timing, and you can’t miss. I think our corners do have great leaping ability, but they have to be perfect because we are not tall like everyone else’s corners. Football is about match-ups, just like basketball.”

Marshall won last year’s meeting 17-16 but lost two years ago at Memphis.

“Last year we made plays when we had to. When they got to the read zone, we were able to make some plays on them by stopping the running game with Steele and made them kick field goals,” said Snyder.

The running game has struggled. Curtis Steele has 24 carries for 119 yards, T.J. Pitts has 25 attempts for 106 yards and Tyler Bass 21 rushes for 97 yards.

“It’s the same thing as last week and same thing as last year against Memphis. They have to establish the run and we have to stop the run. When the field shrinks, we have to make them kick field goals and keep them out of the end zone just like we did last year,” said Snyder.