"They just switched it up on us," defensive lineman Brandon Sparrow said. "We watched film on them, but they were doing a couple of different things. They ran a lot more power than what we thought they were going to run."
MTSU quarterback Logan Kilgore entered Thursday having thrown multiple touchdown passes in a game just once this season - tossing two against Florida Atlantic. Against Marshall, he threw for four - one fewer than his career high - and threw for a season-high 277 yards.
Off that game against the Blue Raiders, Marshall fell from 14th to 41st in the Football Bowl Subdivision in scoring defense, from 10th to 15th in total defense and from 22nd to 45th in rushing defense.
"We're not supposed to be giving up this many points to a team," linebacker Evan McKelvey said. "They have a pretty good offense, but to be a great defense, we have to play hard every snap. We just can't give up big plays. We have to stop them on third down, and third down is what killed us."
Middle Tennessee converted 10 of 20 third downs, 50 percent. Marshall had allowed opponents to convert just 30.68 percent of their third downs entering the game.
MARSHALL'S OFFENSE returned to explosive form after a few average games. The 49 points the Herd scored Thursday were the most since scoring 55 against Gardner-Webb on Sept. 7. Marshall had averaged 27.5 points in its four games before Thursday. It averaged 53.5 points in its opening two games.
"We can build on what we had," said tight end Gator Hoskins, who caught his sixth touchdown of the season and 19th of his career in the first quarter. "We had a nice run game and a couple good completions. We got back to the normal offense, but we fell a little short tonight."
Marshall's 213 rushing yards versus Middle Tennessee were its best total since rushing for 224 against Gardner-Webb. The Herd had rushed for no more than 139 yards in any of the four games in between.
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.r...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.