HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- It's frustrating to the Marshall defense to look at the statistic sheets and see just three sacks in the Thundering Herd's first four games.
But it's nowhere near as frustrating as trying to collect those sacks and coming up empty.
"You're working hard and fighting, trying to get back there," defensive end Alex Bazzie said. "You're not getting (the quarterback) on the ground. He finds a way out. He escapes."
The Herd (2-2, 1-0 Conference USA) will try to improve its pass rush this Saturday when it visits Purdue for its final non-conference game, a 3:15 p.m. kickoff on the Big Ten Network.
What the defense sees this weekend out of the Boilermakers (2-1) might help build upon those meager sack totals.
Marshall is tied with five other teams for 110th out of 120 FBS teams in sacks collected, and only five teams in that 120 have recorded fewer.
That's a big difference from last year, when the Herd finished tied with six other teams for 47th in sacks, recording 27 in 13 games.
There are a couple of things that could factor into that drop in production. First, the Herd no longer has 2011 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year Vinny Curry at defensive end. Not only did Curry, a second-round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles, lead Marshall with 11 sacks, he commanded the double and triple teams that allowed his teammates to attack the quarterback.
And it also might be who the Herd has faced in this season's first four games. West Virginia University quarterback Geno Smith, while primarily a passer, is mobile enough to escape pressure.
The other three quarterbacks Marshall has faced - Western Carolina's Eddie Sullivan, Ohio's Tyler Tettleton and Rice's Taylor McHargue - are known for their running ability.
None of those three rushed for fewer than 35 yards against Marshall, and McHargue gained 153 yards on the ground.
"We'd like better sack numbers, but guys had happy feet, just ran around and got out of there," defensive end Jeremiah Taylor said. "We haven't played that drop-back, read-where-he's-going guy."