"We were all frustrated that we weren't playing the kind of football that we wanted to."
Marshall ranks No. 111 in rush defense, No. 111 in sacks and No. 116 in scoring defense. Overall, the team has allowed 450 yards per game, a figure that ranks 98th of 120 teams and ninth in Conference USA.
But here's a little defense of the defense.
The Herd ranks fourth in Conference USA in average yards per play allowed - 5.57. Tulsa (5.00), UCF (5.16) and Southern Methodist (5.56) rank ahead. Those four teams are a combined 12-2 in C-USA play.
Rippon's crew allowed 8.85 yards per play to WVU in a 69-34 season-opening loss. Since then, the Herd defense has allowed 5.07 yards per play.
Yes, the opposition is still scoring points. Yes, the drives are too long, leading to more plays the defense has to defend and more time MU's high-flying offense is on the sidelines watching ... but there's progress.
Marshall's average yards per play is a lower this season than a year ago (5.65).
Last season was not without the occasional hiccup, as the Herd defense allowed 682 yards to Tulsa and 621 to Houston. Those rank as the first and fourth most yards allowed by MU since 2000.
The second and third games on that list happened this season - 655 to WVU and 647 in a double-overtime win against Rice. It's not ideal, but Rippon understands the yardage totals can be high.
Rippon obviously wants three-and-outs, but he said he keeps an eye on yards per rush, which he says 3.0 or below is ideal. He watches yards per completion, which he wants between 6.0 and 8.0 yards.
And don't forget about the points. Coach Doc Holliday is 15-17 in two-plus seasons at the helm, and Marshall is 14-3 when it holds opposing teams to fewer than 30 points.
"We're playing so many more plays because of the defense and the ways offenses are now," Rippon said. "It's part of the transition. Teams run this high, high tempo and it takes time for the defense to catch up.
"That's where college football has been going and is headed."
Contact sports editor Chuck McGill at chuck.mcg...@dailymail.com or 304-348-7949.