HUNTINGTON - As disastrous as that double-overtime win over Rice looked for Marshall's defense, the postgame re-examination process didn't center on all 93 of the Owls' snaps.
"Within 10 plays, we gave them 300-and-some yards," said defensive end Alex Bazzie. "And we went over those 10 plays and made corrections, just in case we ever get that look again."
Indeed, Rice reeled off 10 plays of 20 or more yards, including touchdowns of 30, 31, 43, 43 and 50 yards. The longest non-scoring play was 47 yards, the late run in which quarterback Taylor McHargue dove for the end zone and fell 2 yards short - and knocked himself out with a shoulder injury.
The 10 plays totaled 331 yards, more than half of Rice's 647 total. McHargue accounted for 467 total yards, more than enough to capture offensive player of the week honors from Conference USA.
Furthermore, McHargue came up with 129 of those in the final 4:10 of regulation as he willed his team from a 10-point deficit to tie the game. In recounting the game on Monday, several Herd defenders shared their frustration at failed attempts to tackle him.
Or even make contact. Whether by scheme or by talent, McHargue baffled Marshall right up to his exit.
"They ran this little funky kind of option read," said defensive end Jeremiah Taylor. "It wasn't [keyed] to the ends, it was to the three-technique [tackle]. If the three-technique took the dive, then the quarterback would keep it, right up the middle."
"I didn't think he was that elusive, until he stepped on the field," said safety Okechukwu Okoroha, who had a team-high 16 tackles.
The 2-2 Marshall team is making the big plays on offense, too.
The website Football Scoop reports the Herd is leading the nation in plays of 10 yards or more, with 89 in four games. Oregon is second with 87.
Kevin Grooms had his share of those plays against Rice, with 17- and 45-yard runs for touchdowns. He also scored on a 5-yard reception and the game-winning play, a 5-yard run in the second overtime.
He was honored as C-USA's offensive player of the week, not by the league but by collegesportsmadness.com.