Yes, the RedHawks had a few injuries. Cornerback Davonne Nunley, who leads the team with 12 career interceptions, injured himself in the 11th game. Defensive tackle Austin Brown suffered a back injury in the second game and took a medical redshirt. And so on.
Marshall wasn't exactly healthy the whole season. Linebacker Evan McKelvey suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament early, Billy Mitchell lost half a season to a concussion, and we'll never know what impact cornerback Darryl Roberts could have had - he never took a snap.
One major difference between the defenses: Miami's defensive coordinator Jay Peterson returns in that capacity for the second year. He is proven as a linebackers coach at Miami, having served from 1991-98 and 2011 to the present. His protégés include two-time Mid American Conference player of the year JoJuan Armour and third-team All-American Dustin Cohen.
Marshall's defensive disaster spelled the end for coordinator Chris Rippon, who has resurfaced in Columbia. Chuck Heater has taken over, and one thing is for sure: His troops are raving about him after a spring and a preseason camp.
And those plaudits aren't just coming from the defensive side.
"They're a lot better. They're a whole lot better," Herd quarterback Rakeem Cato said of his team's defense. "Physical-wise, smarter, making good decisions, just doing everything right. They're living up to Coach Heater's standards."
Can the Herd's defense live up to those standards Saturday night? Will Miami's defense slow down the Herd's rapid-fire attack?
If one or both answers are "no," the scoring summary will runneth over.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.