HUNTINGTON - Marshall's defensive shortcomings were laid bare once again last week, but it was the Thundering Herd's usually explosive offense that learned a valuable lesson in that 54-17 blitzing by Central Florida.
That is this: A little patience goes a long way, perhaps 600 total yards or so.
The Herd will try to apply that lesson as it goes for a critical bounce-back victory today against Conference USA bottom-feeder Memphis. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. at Joan C. Edwards Stadium for the untelevised contest.
Offensive difficulties played just as much a role last week, with dropped passes and missed assignments dooming the Herd to season-low totals in points and total yards. The offense has needed to score big to keep up with opponents this year, and falling behind 27-3 to one of C-USA's better defenses was debilitating.
Don't blame the weather, offensive coordinator Bill Legg says. It was all about playing under control and Legg said he preached the message early and often, right up to kickoff. It didn't sink in.
"Defense is a very emotional side of the ball," Legg said. "They need fire, brimstone, screaming, yelling. Offensively, you can't play that way. You can't. It's like being a NASCAR driver - yes, we want to go fast, but not so fast that we're out of control.
"I used the analogy with them on Sunday, it's like being a surgeon. You've got to find that middle ground where your focus and intensity are high enough that you're locked into the exact thing that you need to do, have good enough energy that you're doing it in the manner you need to do it, but you can't have emotion take over you."
And those offensive players cannot have the must-win nature of the contest consume them. At 3-5, the Herd really must flick away the Tigers (1-7, 1-3), who are still finding their way under their second new head coach in three years.
The MU running game, with the three tailbacks held to a combined 91 yards last week, must be revived. Quarterback Rakeem Cato, who didn't turn the ball over last week but still had his most inefficient game, but regain his edge. The drops must be sharply reduced.
The offense will have to regain its swagger against a revamped Memphis defense that has shown signs of improvement, but regressed in a 44-13 loss last week to Southern Methodist. Even then, the Mustangs didn't bury the Tigers until the fourth quarter, when they scored three touchdowns.