After Marshall's triple-overtime loss to Virginia Tech last weekend, coach Doc Holliday threw his all-green whistle. If he tried to throw it on the interview table, it just missed.
Which is the story of the Thundering Herd's nonconference portion of its 2013 schedule: Just missed. Holliday and his players were plenty grouchy about it.
"Unfortunately, Virginia Tech made one more play at the end than we did," Holliday said.
A common piece of coachspeak, yes, but the phrase "one more play" deserves emphasis. In the Tech game, that "one more play" could be found everywhere.
Skip the mistakes, such as that brutally botched punt return, or allowing the Hokies' punter to gain a first down off a fumbled snap. For the minute, anyway.
Consider Darryl Roberts' near deflection on the game-tying fourth-down touchdown pass. Or Devon Smith's touchdown pass that was pilfered by fast-closing safety Kyshoen Jarrett. Or Justin Haig's much-discussed 39-yard field goal attempt. Or Rakeem Cato's fourth-down pass dropped by Davonte Allen.
Or, or, or.
The Herd gets a full week off before preparing for its Oct. 5 homecoming bout with Texas-San Antonio, one of four Conference USA newcomers on the schedule. The team will need the time to heal, and to correct several deficiencies.
Injury updates tend to come out today, and there are several issues there. Tight end Gator Hoskins limped off the field, defensive linemen Jarquez Samuel and Ra'Shawde Myers went down on the same play, linebacker Evan McKelvey went down, Smith was woozy after the aforementioned interception, which came with a strong collision.
Offensive lineman Josh Lovell and top "Z" receiver Craig Wilkins didn't make the trip, along with defensive end Jeremiah Taylor.
Another offensive lineman, Jordan Jeffries, also did not play. Left tackle Gage Niemeyer, center Chris Jasperse and right tackle Garrett Scott took all 92 snaps (negated plays included) - certainly, that was a factor behind Virginia Tech's defense getting the upper hand as the game wore on.
Injuries happen. So do mistakes. What needs to be corrected?
Special teams, special teams, special teams. One could argue that if Herd coaches can snuff out that dumpster fire, everything else will fall into place.
One could also argue the Herd could be 4-0 if not for two horrendous special-teams miscues. Steward Butler may never return kickoffs again after his fumble gave Ohio a touchdown, and Tyler Williams never had a chance to avoid that blocked punt two minutes into the Virginia Tech game.
"To get that punt block is unacceptable," Holliday said. "It's ridiculous."
A touchdown in a three-point game and a touchdown in an overtime game. The math is too easy to ignore. Special teams must improve or the Herd will lose another game or two.