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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Marshall has the second-leading rusher in Conference USA, but as a team the Herd ranks ninth in the 12-team league.

"I'd like to run the ball a little better than we are," Marshall Coach Doc Holliday said at his weekly press conference Tuesday inside the Big Green room at Edwards Stadium.

Holliday's Herd (1-1) visits Ohio University (2-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday night.

The Bobcats, losers of six straight games in The Battle for the Bell, are 3-point favorites at Peden Stadium, a 24,000-seat venue that should be at capacity for this non-conference matchup.

In last year's meeting in Huntington, Marshall generated a measly 96 yards on the ground, but narrowly escaped with a 24-23 win.

That was a different time and a different backfield. The only three Herd players to accumulate any rushing yardage were Andre Booker (47 yards), Martin Ward (45 yards) and Brian Anderson (4 yards).

Booker is now buried on the depth chart at wide receiver and Ward is the third- or fourth-string running back behind sophomore Tron Martinez and freshman Travon Van.

Anderson graduated and has been succeeded by Cato.

Martinez has 145 yards on 27 carries through two games, which puts him only behind Southern Methodist's Zach Line in Conference USA rushing yardage.

Van, however, has struggled to start his collegiate career.

"I think the actual players running the ball are good," Holliday said. "Travon has got to slow down a little bit, but he'll get better and better as he goes."

Van had 10 carries against WVU on Sept. 4, but totaled just 1 yard.

He rebounded with 31 rushing yards and 23 receiving yards in a win over Southern Mississippi last weekend. 

"He had a couple nice plays Saturday," Holliday said of Van. "He's starting to get the feel. He was banged up a little bit the week before last. He was back to full speed last week and he'll be full speed this week."

Van ranks No. 28 in Conference USA in rushing, and his 1.48 yards-per-carry average is the lowest of any non-quarterback in the league.

Martinez has a long rush of 22 yards and six of 12 yards or longer, but Van's longest run in two games is 7 yards.

What does the 5-foot-11, 200-pound running back need to do to improve?

"Just the reads, let the play develop a little bit," Holliday said. "He's trying to rush everything instead of seeing it and hitting it."

The second-year head coach commended the offensive line.

"At times there's some youth up there, but you know what? They'll fight you, they'll keep plugging," Holliday said. "We've been able to rush the ball over 100 yards the last two games and we'll have to do that."

As a team, Marshall has 175 yards on 60 carries - an average of 2.92 yards per attempt.

A positive: the Herd is the only team in Conference USA yet to lose a fumble.

*  *  *

AFTER A season-opening 34-13 loss at West Virginia in a weather-shortened game, Holliday worked diligently to refocus his team for Southern Miss in hopes of avoiding a hangover for the C-USA opener.

Now Holliday is trying to swat away any lingering euphoria from last Saturday's 26-20 win over the favored Golden Eagles.

"We've talked a lot in the last couple of days about what has to happen to that Southern Miss game," Holliday said. "It's go to be put behind us. We got to look forward. I don't want to hear another word about Southern Miss from here on out, to be honest with you."

*  *  * 

TROY EVANS, who was limited against Southern Miss (lack of practice time), is expected to play a greater role at Ohio.

"He's fine," Holliday said. "He'll get to practice this week and he'll be fine."

Nine different receivers caught passes against USM, but the 5-9, 204-pound Evans, a senior, played sparingly and did not make a catch. 

*  *  *

FORMER WEST Virginia University quarterback Jarrett Brown worked out with former Marshall tight end Cody Slate at Edwards Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.

Brown and Slate were cut by the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively, in the preseason.

Brown's connection to the Herd is MU running backs coach/recruiting coordinator JaJuan Seider, who was Brown's QB coach at Palm Beach Lakes High in West Palm Beach, Fla. 

Brown attended Marshall's win over Southern Miss.

Contact sportswriter Chuck McGill at chuck.mcgill@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.

 


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