HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Film review couldn't have been an especially joyous exercise for the Marshall University football team, not after Middle Tennessee State's last-second touchdown handed the Thundering Herd a 51-49 loss last Thursday.
Yet Herd players said they couldn't get to a film room quick enough to divine where the blemishes were in that setback to the Blue Raiders, and how to prevent them from returning this Saturday, when Marshall (4-3, 2-1 Conference USA) hosts Southern Mississippi (0-7, 0-3 C-USA). The Herd and Golden Eagles will clash at 12:30 p.m. on the CBS Sports Network.
"It hurt," Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato said. "It hurt a lot. But us, as a team, we have to bounce back from that and just keep on track."
The first step to bouncing back was to address the problems. And after a finish like the one Marshall suffered through in Murfreesboro - Blue Raiders quarterback Logan Kilgore capping a 79-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres Jefferson - the Herd didn't want to waste much time.
"You most definitely want to get that bad taste out of your mouth," senior defensive end Alex Bazzie said. "When you lose a game like that, that's so close and comes down to the last three seconds, you want to go back and look at film and find out what caused it to come down to those last three seconds. What were we doing wrong? How were they making those plays?"
The defense set out to learn why one of the nation's top units reverted back to its 2012 form, which constantly had trouble getting off the field. Marshall gave up runaway season highs in yards and points against Middle Tennessee, and allowed the Blue Raiders to convert 10 of 20 third downs and four of five fourth downs. Kilgore earned C-USA offensive player of the week honors with his 277-yard, four-touchdown passing performance.
From what Bazzie saw, it wasn't a matter of preparation. That, he said, was solid. It was more a matter of energy, and the fact that the Herd didn't start the game with it.
"I think we were well-prepared," Bazzie said. "When we got there, we took too long to crank up. We took too long to adjust to their playing style. The coaches have been on us, saying we can't just turn it on and turn it off when we want to. We've got to play hard every snap."