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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Owls face unfamiliar foe in Lafayette

Friday, August 31, 2012

The first step in re-discovering Marshall's football tradition was taken during last week's 26-25 season-opening win at Chillicothe.

First-year head coach Jon Stockman considers it "vital" in injecting confidence into a team which went 0-10 last season.

"The kids are real excited still," Stockman said Thursday. "Winning that game helps them in buying into what we're teaching them even more."

The Owls' offense staged a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull out the victory, and the defense held firm at the end. Both can be attributed to improved line play.

"They're an experienced group," Stockman noted, also pointing to an increased depth which allowed an eight-man rotation on both fronts. "Most of those guys are only playing offensive line or defensive line. We kept them fresh."

That will be important today as Marshall attempts to keep up with a group of speedy running backs from Lafayette in St. Joseph. They racked up 423 rushing yards during last week's 52-16 win at NCMC member Mexico.

The Fighting Irish (1-0) also have some beef in front of the runners, including major college recruit Foster Brown -- a 309-pound senior transfer from Copperas Cove, Texas.

"They're big up front and come off the ball well," Stockman said. "They have several fast, shifty backs. We're going to have to tackle well."

Although senior fullback Travis Webster led the team against the Bulldogs with 113 yards, three others -- among them senior wingback Jurell Green -- gained at least 60 yards. Lafayette's double-wing offense requires discipline in carrying out defensive assignments to counter misdirection.

"Our linebackers have to do a better job of reading their guards and not get caught up looking into the backfield and watching motion," Stockman explained.

The Irish deploy a 3-4 defense, occasionally shifting to a five-man line, giving senior quarterback Alex Maupin -- who ran for 142 yards and four touchdowns last week -- something different to read.

"They're going to be keying on Alex," Stockman predicted. "We're going to have to do much more offensively."

Although Lafayette is a new opponent for the Owls (1-0), Stockman and his staff "haven't made a big deal about not having played them." The focus, instead, is squarely on making each Friday night game "the most important one we've ever played."

After shaking a 13-game winless streak, is Marshall as hungry this time out?

"Just as much," Stockman declared. "Our goal is to be 1-0 after this week."

Directions: The Lafayette football field is directly across the street from the high school building. There are two main ways to get to St. Joseph: U.S. 65 south to I-70 west to I-435 north and west to I-29 north (145 miles) and U.S. 65 north to U.S. 36 west (135 miles). Once in St. Joseph, use U.S. 36 west to Missouri 59 north past downtown. Exit at Highland Ave. and proceed east seven-tenths of a mile to 412 Highland.

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