The road wasn't kind of Rice last season, and its 24-20 loss at MU grates the Owls to this day.
Vinny Curry's forced fumble with 3:31 left and subsequent touchdown turned what was a key play by "Kat" safety Paul Porras into an afterthought. Porras foiled a go-ahead drive by intercepting an A.J. Graham pass on the Owls' 8-yard line early in the fourth quarter.
As Porras tries to make amends, the question nags: What in the world is the "Kat?" One way to describe it: It gives the Owls the flexibility to morph from a 4-3 to a 4-2-5 and back. For a Marshall equivalent, consider D.J. Hunter's move from safety to strong-side linebacker.
Porras leads the Owls with 25 tackles.
"I can come down and essentially play as an outside linebacker, play a cover-two safety," Porras said. "It allows me to make a lot of tackles in the box and also cover a lot of two man routes. I feel like a distance runner by the end of the day."
He did run track in high school, though not distances. He finished second in an Arizona state meet in the triple jump and ran sprints from 100 meters up to the 4x400 relay.
For the first and only time this season, Marshall will play a team with fewer seniors. The Herd "beefed up" to nine with late transfers, while Rice's number has been whittled to seven.
Safety Corey Frazier, who was second on the team with 36 games played, suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Owls' second game of the season at Kansas. Frazier can take a medical redshirt and return as a fifth-year senior.
Rice is "ahead" of Indiana and Colorado, who have eight seniors. Marshall's nine ties it with Florida Atlantic and Colorado. 2013 Conference USA entrant Texas-San Antonio has only six seniors, but that deserves an asterisk - the Roadrunners are in their second season at any level and are playing in the FBS for the first time.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com.