Bill Clark is extremely impressed with Marshall, even though the playoff selection committee seems to not be. It appears to baffle Clark as to why Marshall doesn't get more national respect. The Herd enter this week as one of only two unbeaten teams left in the country. Clark had this to say at his weekly media presser.
"It's surprising to me. I think people can talk about their schedule, but when you win big against quality people. It's not like they are beating people by one point or two points or winning at the end of the game. They've been beating people soundly. When you win soundly I believe you should give them a little more respect. I've seen Mississippi State and I've seen Arkansas and they compare favorably."
Strong but true words from the UAB head football coach on the Marshall squad that still hasn't cracked the playoff committee's rankings despite being undefeated. While Marshall enters this game looking for national respect, UAB continues to look for respect from its own board of trustees. The BOT sanctioned a study that many feel may lead to the end of UAB football. With little to no support being shown from UAB president Ray Watts or athletic director Brian Mackin, the Blazer faithful have rallied around this team. UAB enters this game 5-5 after only winning eight total games over the last three seasons.
With both teams having so much to play for look for an explosive match up in Legion Field Saturday morning. While much is made of the Marshall offense lead by quarterback Raheem Cato and running back Devon Johnson, the defensive minded Clark also took notice of the underrated and stingy Herd defense. The Herd is statistically the best defensive team in C-USA and ranked highly in multiple categories nationally. Bill Clark found that Marshall runs many schemes that the Blazers like to run on that side of the ball.
"I like simple defense and they play a lot of man coverage and we like (to run) man coverage. What happens when you play man coverage is you challenge every route. What they do is they let these guys play."
UAB has seen a dramatic defensive turn around with a similar defensive philosophy that has been run this year. The Blazer defense doesn't have the overall size or depth of the Marshall defense yet, but Blazers fans will see a version of what Clark wants the UAB defense to look like in the future. Marshall hasn't given up many big plays this year defensively and the Blazer passing attack lives on the deep ball. Will UAB quarterback Clements be able to break that trend and hook up with JJ Nelson deep? That may very well depend on how the UAB offensive line plays against an aggressive defensive front from the Herd. That match up may very well dictate if the Blazers have a shot to make national headlines and pull an upset.
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