Owls welcome Kirksville for Homecoming

Friday, September 20, 2013
The Owls would like to see junior Devin Cott and their other runners bust loose against Kirksville. (Chris Allen/Democrat-News)

Of the Marshall football team's three losses this season, last week's 14-7 NCMC setback at Mexico was clearly the most frustrating.

"Two snaps go differently, I think we win the game," remarked Owls head coach Jon Stockman. "Mexico is much-improved, but we didn't play well enough offensively to get the W."

Marshall was held to only 152 yards in total offense, and has gained just 577 yards all season, so Stockman is concerned about "being consistent with our blocking assignments."

"We're still working on execution, going back to learn some basic stuff," he said. "Taking care of the football is the No. 1 priority."

As well it should be, since a fumble run into the end zone by the Bulldogs proved to be the difference-making play.

"I think we played well defensively," Stockman said. "You give up one touchdown defensively, you should win every time out."

Leading up to today's contest against league foe Kirksville, an additional element of potential distraction is the activities surrounding Homecoming.

"Their focus has been good, but we're tuning it up with all the Homecoming stuff this week," Stockman explained his approach with the players.

Marshall (0-3, 0-1 NCMC) shouldn't lack motivation, especially since it is currently in eighth place in Class 4, District 6 with a mere 14 points. By contract, the Tigers (1-2, 0-1) are fifth at 25.67 points.

Stockman believes Kirksville is better than the team the Owls blanked a year ago, 19-0. Part of that is the play of junior quarterback Makenna Cook, who has passed for 385 yards and three touchdowns and run for 122 yards - second on the team to senior Blake Riley's 202 yards.

"They like to run speed-option with him," Stockman noted. "If we keep him contained and controlled, we'll be just fine."

The Tigers will show different looks offensively, from the spread to a two-tight, three-back formation. On defense, the 3-4 is their base alignment, but they often show linebacker blitzes and change coverages in the secondary.

Senior Nathan Farnsworth leads Kirksville with 50 tackles, while sophomore Amos Gebhardt has a pair of interceptions.

"Their 'backers are pretty active and good tacklers," Stockman said. Of special concern is senior nose tackle Tre Stewart. "We have to make sure to get him taken care of each and every snap."

After opening the season with a 40-22 victory at Southern Boone, the Tigers suffered a 42-8 loss to Chillicothe - which beat the Owls, 21-0, in Week 1 - and gave Moberly a hard time before being defeated, 28-12.

Marshall is in the middle of a three-game stretch against teams that provided all of its NCMC wins last year, so the opportunity exists to right its season.

"Sitting 0-3, they're hungry. They want to win," Stockman declared. "Emotions will be high. I think they're going to come out and be ready to play."

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