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Thundering Herd defense becoming more cohesive

Assistant Sports Editor

Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012

Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 00:10

Bye weeks give coaches an opportunity to get players healthy and make adjustments to gameplans, and it couldn’t come at a better time for a struggling Marshall defense.

The Thundering Herd defense has allowed an average of 44.5 points a game and has given up totals of 69 points to West Virgina in the season opener and 51 to Rice and Purdue in back to back games.

That figure puts the Herd dead last in scoring defense and can be attributed to allowing almost 470 total yards a game.

“Sometimes stats can be misleading,” junior defensive lineman Alex Bazzie said. “If you look at our stats on defense, things just don’t look right. Just being out there playing with those guys, you know what everyone is capable of.”

Head coach Doc Holliday said the defense has to keep working hard in order to improve.

“We have to continue to build on the progress they’ve made and just go out every day and work to get better,” Holliday said. “Are we there yet? No, but we have to continue to work hard to get there.”

The bye week allows the unit to sit down and hold each other accountable for mistakes made during the first half of the season.

“We’re putting on ourselves to be more accountable for the penalties we give up,” junior corner Derrick Thomas said. “The pass interference I might give up and anything like that. We’re taking accountability for every little thing. If you make a tiny mistake in practice, it’s still getting called out. Everything has to be called out at this point.”

Calling each other out is made easier with the unit being more familiar with one another compared to the beginning of the season.

“We’ve grown into a bigger group and a bigger family. A lot of people don’t really see that,” Bazzie said.

Although the defense was relatively new to one another and players new to their respective positions at the beginning of the season, sophomore corner Keith Baxter does not see that as an excuse for the team’s disappointing performance.

“Its already midway through the season and everybody should already have felt each other out and know each other,” Baxter said. “Its time to go now because we have to make it to a bowl game.”

Now that the defensive squad does know more about one another, they have taken to watching film as a group.

 “That’s how you’re going to get better,” Baxter said. “If you have everybody on the defense getting together as a whole and talking about what we have to do to stop this team, learn our plays and learn what offenses are going to do to us.”

If its defense can improve, Marshall may find itself atop the East Division standings and in the Conference USA Championship game with five of the last six games remaining on the schedule against teams from the East.

Adam Rogers can be contacted at rogers112@marshall.edu.

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