HUNTINGTON — One positive byproduct of Marshall's 54-17 shellacking by Central Florida: Tyler Williams became a national top-10 punter.
OK, that wasn't all positive. From the beginning, Williams' yardage was high enough to rank among the top booters in Division I FBS, but he usually didn't have enough kicks. The minimum is 3.6 attempts per game.
So he qualified after the opener against West Virginia, after the fourth and fifth games against Rice and Purdue, but not again until Saturday. Central Florida forced the Herd into a season-high (and unwelcome) seven punts.
That gives him 29 attempts, right on the minimum 28.8. After averaging 47 yards against UCF, his season average is 45.97, placing him ninth in the nation.
"We wouldn't like to punt that much, but when we got out there we got the job done as best we could," he said. "Gave our defense the best shot at giving the ball back to our offense."
Arguably, he was the Herd's most valuable player of the UCF game. He had the team's two most spectacular plays, uncorking rainmaking shots of 61 and 64 yards. The only drawback was both ended in touchbacks.
Still, those were net punts of 41 and 44 yards. He also had a 41-yarder end in a fair catch at the UCF 9-yard line and a 40-yarder downed by Deon Meadows at the 1.
Meadows was partially in the end zone, but that is not a consideration in the college game — it's all about the position of the ball.
Meadows said he knows the rule, though a flash of uncertainty hit him before he stopped the ball.
"I saw [a teammate] miss the ball and it just rolled and [I said] 'Let me go stop it,' " Meadows said. "I just lay [on the turf] and hoped for the best."
Williams was named to the Ray Guy Award candidate list Monday.
As deserving as he may be, that list isn't exactly an exclusive club — 69 players were named, compared to 93 qualifying punters listed in the NCAA's latest ranking.
Another testimony to Williams' effectiveness: He is ninth in individual punting, which is gross yardage, but he is even better in net punting. As a team statistic, Marshall is sixth, netting 42.13 yards on average.
Williams did not win special teams player-of-the-week honors in Conference USA.