ANNAPOLIS, Md. - It's been nearly three weeks since the Marshall football team has lined up against somebody other than itself. It's been four weeks since the Maryland football team has done so.
So when the Thundering Herd and Terrapins meet each other today in the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md. (2:30 p.m., ESPN), the season finale for both teams will feel a bit like a season opener.
"It's definitely challenging," Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown said. "It feels like camp. Guys are excited to go out there and play someone new. Going against each other for the past 15 practices or whatever it was, just to go out there and hit someone new, see some different faces, stuff like that, it's definitely exciting and we're looking forward to it."
Both sides also are looking forward to what Maryland Coach Randy Edsall calls the "chess match," since both sides have enjoyed extra time to break down game film and devise plans. Marshall's shown a knack for adding a few wrinkles. The defense has pulled out a "radar" package and started the East Carolina game in a 3-3-5 formation. The offense rolled out its "Big Cheese" package with offensive lineman Blake "Big Cheese" Brooks as the fullback and tight end Devon Johnson as the tailback.
Edsall is aware of that, and said the Herd also will have to contend with the multiple issues the Terrapins can present, both offensively and defensively.
"It's like an opening game," Edsall said. "Guys have had some time off and a little bit longer to game-plan. You really have to prepare for a lot of things, and as a staff, you really have to be ready for the what-ifs. So you've just got to make sure you do that.
"That's the thing," he added. "You almost have to treat it like it's an opening game with the extra time for people to add things, or maybe come up with something they haven't shown before."
NEITHER THE BOWL nor the holiday season has slowed down Marshall's recruiting. The Herd recently picked up four more verbal commitments. Stanley Dye, a wide receiver/defensive back from Ridgeview High in Orange Park, Fla., announced his commitment on Wednesday. Published reports have two Fork Union Military Academy prospects - offensive/defensive tackle A.J. Addison and defensive lineman and Malik Thompson - and defensive lineman Jason Smith from East Coast Prep in Great Barrington, Mass., also making verbal commitments.