The Herd's megaplay offense certainly will test Ohio's defense, and Bobcats coach Frank Solich knows it.
"We have a lot of respect for what they are about," Solich said. "They have a hurry-up offense, so you'd better be ready to substitute on the defensive side, though they make that very difficult [by] staying in the same personnel through much of the game.
"They're a very difficult team to play, and we'll try to use as many guys as we can use."
But the Bobcats survived that Herd attack 52 weeks ago. They did it the old-fashioned way, stuffing the run and making Rakeem Cato and company become one-dimensional. That's the test for the Herd, which is still running plays at a dizzying pace but running more than passing.
"I think you'd like to continue to be balanced," Holliday said. "A lot of it is what they give us defensively. I've said from day one that we might not be as good on the stat sheets as we were a year ago, but we can be a better offense."
Marshall's improved special teams may receive their first legitimate test. So far, the top story in that phase has been Amareto Curraj, who has kicked 12 touchbacks - already double the Herd's total of last year.
The Herd's coverage units remain a curiosity. Punter Tyler Williams (45.7 average) may want to kick away from Travis Carrie, the sixth-year cornerback who is averaging 12.4 yards per return for Ohio, and Curraj may want to belt his kickoffs over the head of Devin Bass, who averages 25.4 yards per return.
The most formidable battle could be that of the coaching staffs. Holliday's fourth-year staff, with its several newcomers, might get into a match of wits with ninth-year coach Solich - and Solich has four assistants who have been in Athens his entire tenure.
It all adds up to the most important nonconference game for both teams. For Marshall, last year's loss to Ohio loomed very, very large in the final weeks of the 5-7 season.
So did four road losses. With that in mind, the Herd needs to build confidence away from home.
"Going into a different hotel, going into a different arena where not all our fans are there, that's a bit different," Holliday said. "When you go on the road, you've got to have great leadership - that's where it starts - and you've got to be an extremely tough team to play in those environments.
"We've got to find out if we are that."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.