When this game first appeared on the schedule, I doubt many people anticipated such a one-sided affair with either team having fewer than 28 points. When Marshall hit the field, they hit it angry and on a mission. Marshall fans know that Herd games on the road have been a bit of a crap shoot, even when playing the most seemingly inept teams, so a team like ODU seems to present problems, but it just didn't happen.
The "Thunder and Lightning" backfield combination of Devon Johnson and Remi Watson combined for over 300 yards on the ground and 5 touchdowns. While Rakeem Cato may not have had the stats he wanted, matching his season total for interceptions with 2 on the game, he went 18-23 for 198 yards and 2 touchdowns. With his 42-yard strike to Shuler, Cato moved into second place all-time with 37 consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
On the defensive side of the ball, Marshall never allowed Taylor Heinicke to get comfortable. Defensive coordinator Chuck Heater dialed up the pressure early and often and never allowed Heinicke to get set. Heinicke finished the day 10-25 for 85 yards with 1 touchdown, 1 interception, and was sacked 5 times.
Receivers Antonio Vaughan and Zach Paschal were held in check all day with Vaughan catching 3 passes for 24 yards and Paschal with 1 catch for 21 yards and a touchdown. Marshall kept pressure on with only 3 and 4 men, allowing for Taj Letman and AJ Leggett to keep bracket coverage high to make windows tighter for a consistently under-pressure Taylor Heinicke.
If there was one weakness for Marshall, it was the rush defense, which allowed over 200 yards to Old Dominion. While Marshall sold out the pass to ODU, Marshall must shore up their run defense before contests against teams like Middle Tennessee and Rice later this year.
Player of the Game
While it is tempting to give the entire defense this award for their performance, one cannot overlook the nearly 200 yard performance by Devon Johnson, especially considering that performance came with him only playing one series in the second half. Johnson's stat line reads: 20 carries, 198 yards, 3 touchdowns, 9.9 yards per carry. The man they call "Rockhead" was simply dominant.
When It Was "Over"
Marshall came near finishing the game with the blocked punt recovered for a touchdown to make the game 28-0, but when the wind was really taken out of the Monarchs sails was Cato's touchdown pass to Deontay McManus to make the game 42-7 with less than 30 seconds left in the first half. The Redshirt Freshman's first career touchdown reception in the corner of the endzone showed how deep the Herd's compliment of weapons on the outside was compared to the Monarchs' defensive depth.
Where We Go From Here
Marshall prepares for their homecoming tilt against Middle Tennessee State, Saturday at noon ET. Many people in the C-USA remember last year's 51-49 thriller where MTSU scored on a touchdown on the final play of the game to hand Marshall their only regular season conference loss last year. Marshall will surely be looking for revenge for that loss.
After a topsy-turvy weekend in college football and another dominant win, it will be interesting to see if the Herd finally cracks the top 25 after weeks in the land of "receiving votes".