HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Soon after Marshall football Coach Doc Holliday sat down for his weekly press conference, he started rattling off scores from college football's opening weekend. He wasn't trying out for the nightly newscast. He was trying to make a point.
The scores were from the seven games where Football Championship Subdivision schools beat Football Bowl Subdivision schools. Some, like North Dakota State's 24-21 win at Kansas State, were surprising. Others, like McNeese State's 53-21 win over South Florida, were downright embarrassing. Holliday doesn't want the Thundering Herd added to that list when it hosts Gardner-Webb at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.
"There were seven teams last Tuesday that were kind of in the same boat that we were," he said, "and for whatever reason, whether it was preparation, whether it was overconfidence or whatever it was, they woke up Sunday morning and they weren't very happy."
The Herd was happy as could be after shutting down and shutting out Miami (Ohio) in the second half of a 52-14 blowout. That game was 14-14 at halftime, and the RedHawks gained just 55 yards in the second half.
The Runnin' Bulldogs (1-0) come to Joan C. Edwards Stadium on a high note, too, coming back from a two-touchdown deficit to beat Furman, 28-21. Gardner-Webb has little success versus FBS opponents, its lone win in nine tries coming in 2010 with its 38-37 overtime win versus Akron.
But Marshall coaches don't have to hearken back to a few years ago, when Appalachian State stunned Michigan, to talk about upsets. They only have to look back a couple of days, and senior defensive end Jeremiah Taylor said they have.
"A few times," Taylor said. "Nowadays, everyone's doing the same thing and preparing the same way. People have the weight rooms and the conditioning and the gaps are starting to shrink a little bit. Guys are starting to be able to play with each other. We've just come out, stay focused and do what we do and we'll be fine."
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HOLLIDAY ALSO named the captains for Saturday's game - quarterback Rakeem Cato, tight end Gator Hoskins, defensive lineman James Rouse and Alex Bazzie. That was based, Holliday said, on their performance in Marshall's win over Miami (Ohio) and their leadership through camp.
Cato threw for 253 yards and five touchdowns and ran for 59 yards, while Hoskins caught three passes for 38 yards and two of those catches were touchdowns. Bazzie recorded three tackles and a quarterback hurry against Miami, while Rouse, who spent the most of the previous two seasons out with an injury, recorded two tackles, one for a loss.
"You talk about a guy who's overcome adversity," Holliday said, "most players out there, if they had to go what he's gone through, would have given up football. He just persevered, continues to work extremely hard, has a great attitude, played Saturday and played extremely well."
After sitting all but three games in 2011 because of a back injury and the entire 2012 season due to a torn Achilles tendon, Rouse was happy to just be on the field and healthy. To be a captain is icing on the cake.