Thundering Herd, Pirates both need win to become bowl eligible

Published 12:39 am Friday, November 25, 2011


Tribune Sports Editor


HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Same records, same thing at stake.

Both the Marshall Thundering Herd and East Carolina Pirates enter Saturday’s Conference USA game 5-6 with a chance to earn a postseason bowl bid.

Marshall is coming off a 23-22 win over Memphis last Thursday while the Pirates bet Central Florida 38-31 last Saturday.

Herd coach Doc Holliday expects his team to be ready.

“I think it is easier for us because we have a lot to play for,” said Holliday. “We get the chance to get the most wins (five) for Marshall in Conference USA play, a chance to go to a bowl game and finish towards the top in a variety of things. Our kids know that and are ready.”

The Herd defense faces a challenge from the high-scoring Pirates who are led by quarterback Dominique Davis who has thrown for 2,940 yards and 22 touchdowns. Davis is 304 for 446 on the season with 16 interceptions.

“Their offense is centered around him,” said Holliday. “You have to tackle because they throw the short routes, the 5-yards hitch routes and such. You have to get the receivers on the ground and when you get pressure on him you need to make sure you cover up the hot routes.”

But Holliday said ECU is more than just Davis and the offense.

“Both cornerbacks are good, they have an excellent linebacker and a roaming safety who makes big plays. A very athletic defensive line,” said Holliday.

“The defense is greatly improved. They have switched to a three-down front from the four-down front they have had in the past. They are a lot better than last year and they looked a lot better against UCF.”

The game will be the final home contest for the seniors including All-American defensive lineman Vinny Curry.

“It is fun to see them progress over time, while at the same time hard to see them go and play their last game at Edwards’ Stadium. Hopefully they will get another game after this because, for some, this will be their last game,” said Holliday.

Holliday was glad Curry bypassed the NFL draft to remain for his senior season.

“Most important thing is (Curry) gets his bachelor’s degree in December, something he would not have gotten if he did not return,” said Holliday.

“It’s very important because at some point in life he is going to have to go out and use it. He gets to go out his door each morning with a smile on his face because he has his degree, plus he has helped his draft stock with the year he has had.”

Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.