While not being front page-level dominant, the Marshall defense will not be a pushover this weekend. I specifically looked into their rushing defense in an effort to see whether this could provide a breakout game opportunity for Reggie Gallaspy or (insert other backup here).
It turns out Marshall is first in conference in total rushing yards allowed. Obviously these are skewed because they have played one fewer game than other teams. But even based on averages, they’re still 1st in yards per carry, at 3.14, only allowing 3 touchdowns so far. The Herd is third in C-USA in yards per game allowed at 113, placing them 32nd nationally. By comparison, NC State is 56th, allowing 135 yards/game. Additionally, their 7 sacks so far ranks them 39th nationally (again through only 2 games).
Once their game against Other Carolina got canceled, the matchup with the Wolfpack became their prime non-conference game for the season. Dave Doeren mentioned that Marshall has the best winning percentage at home in college football. I don’t know what to make of that statistic, but it is a night game so the team should expect both their opponents and the opposing crowd to be ready.
The program is using this is a hype opportunity. Obviously NC State has a number of these games this season, red-out/white-out/black-out. It’s in service of marketing but also to get more energy from the crowd. That being said, as of Tuesday afternoon, the game is definitely not yet sold out. Also, #StripeTheJoan is a less than optimal hashtag, you can do better.
So what does this mean? The Pack should not expect this to be a cupcake game. Winning on the road is never guaranteed, and a win this week would be well earned. In their favor is the fact that Reggie Gallaspy was actually the team’s leading rusher in the matchup with Marshall last year, with 12 carries for 61 yards and 2 touchdowns. Hopefully this will give him some confidence for this week. Last year’s team won the matchup 37-20, but also fell behind by 10 twice. Here’s hoping the running game can help to avoid those early deficits this time.