HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Just because the Marshall football team had no opponent last week didn't mean the Thundering Herd wasn't in full pads through that break.
Actually, Coach Doc Holliday said, the team spent more time in full pads than originally planned to get used to the blocking scheme used by Saturday's opponent, the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Holliday said that when the Herd hosts the Roadrunners in a 2 p.m. homecoming matchup, Marshall's defense will see a lot of blocking below the waist - often called "cut blocking" - on the perimeter. That's part of the reason, he figures, that UTSA is second in Conference USA, behind the Herd, in total offense. Marshall averages 485 yards per game, while UTSA averages 431 yards.
"They do a great job, and I don't think I've seen a team ... I've seen wishbone teams, the Georgia Techs of the world and those people ... but I haven't seen a team that does both, that throws it around like they do, but also blocks as well as they do on the perimeter," he said.
The NCAA had tried to take low blocks out of the game in the past, but modified the rules for 2013 to allow those below-the-waist blocks only if the blocker is clearly in front of the defender. So Holliday put the team in full pads two days last week and on Tuesday to get plenty of experience feeling, and trying to avoid, those low blocks.
"It's kind of a fine line there," Holliday said. "You don't want to do it every day in practice because you'll lose kids. But you have to do it. It's like anything else. If you don't do it in practice, you won't expect to get it done on game day."
Holliday said the key to stopping a strong perimeter running game is to put an edge on the defense, using a corner or a safety to turn the play back into the middle and into the heart of the defense.
"When that secondary guy turns that speed sweep or that speed option back inside, those defensive linemen have to be there, playing inside-out to go get them," he said.
HOLLIDAY ANNOUNCED Tuesday that offensive lineman Josh Lovell had left the team for personal reasons and to focus on his degree. Lovell, a redshirt junior, appeared in 11 games last season, but in just two of four games this season. He played 91 snaps in all, 63 versus Miami (Ohio), 28 versus Gardner-Webb and none against Ohio or Virginia Tech. Freshman Michael Selby has slid into the reserve left guard role.
Otherwise, Holliday said, the Herd should be healthy entering Saturday's game outside of defensive end Jeremiah Taylor.