And so on.
"The leadership hasn't wavered. Their goals and their dreams haven't wavered whatsoever," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. "They're a team that likes each other, wants to be a good football team. Sometimes during an open date, you go out there in practice, and the kids don't want to be there. These kids wanted to be there, and wanted to get better."
Offensively, the Herd wants to get rid of the bad taste of not scoring in the final 39 minutes of regulation at Virginia Tech - plus three overtime possessions. The week off could help quarterback Rakeem Cato and the Herd's skill position players, such as returning running back Kevin Grooms. Or that offense could begin the game out of sync.
Defensively, coordinator Chuck Heater's troops had enough homework to fill the two weeks' preparation, and then some. UTSA's veteran quarterback , Eric Soza, runs an offense that stretches and stretches the defense with speed options, quick routes and lots and lots of personnel.
Holliday found one mitigating factor in all that.
"Thing they do, they substitute on just about every down, which allows the defense to substitute," Holliday said. "When they're running guys in there, then that umpire's got to stand over the ball and give us a chance to match their personnel. You have problems getting your packages in when people don't substitute."
Both squads are trying to improve their special teams, or at least eliminate game-turning mistakes. Marshall has suffered a lost fumble on a kickoff and a blocked punt, both covering the margins of losses to Ohio and Virginia Tech. Against Houston, UTSA gave up a blocked field goal return for a TD that started the slide from a competitive game to a 59-28 rout.
The result means Marshall isn't the only team looking for redemption before a warm homecoming crowd this afternoon. But that's not the Herd's worry as much as this is: starting the C-USA season the right way.
That's one thing that's not as elusive - believe it or not, the Herd has done that four of the last five years.
MU announced Friday that 20th Street will be closed from 10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. today for the homecoming parade. West Lot parking permit holders can use 41/2 Alley, best accessed by 21st Street alongside McDonald's, or may enter from Third Avenue.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.