"You have confidence they can make plays and get off the field," said the assistant. "If you have no playmakers, you can't get off the field."
On Saturday, the 28,837 in attendance saw Heater take advantage of his playmakers. He had some freedom in regard to schemes.
"We moved our [defensive] front a lot," Heater said. "We had that little thing where we didn't get lined up. We were moving around. That can be disruptive if you worked on it, and they hadn't."
"We also had a couple things with our corners, putting them in positions to help with the run game."
The former scheme Heater spoke of involved what some call a stand-up defensive front. (Ex-Nitro High coach Scott Tinsley would be proud.) Heater used the stunt in both of his previous stops at Florida and Temple.
Anyway, on a day in which a new (although very, very similar) Marco was introduced, Marshall showed it also has a new defense.
"Coach Heater and his staff did a great job," said Holliday. "The defense just keeps getting better and better."
He pointed to the packages Heater put in during the Herd's off week. He said the way the Roadrunners play offense allowed the defensive coordinator to play an extra linebacker - a strong-side one - instead of a nickel back. That helped in a big way.
All freshman Sam linebacker Stefan Houston did on Saturday was lead the team in tackles with eight, including a half sack and 11/2 tackles for loss.
"They put me in the right position," Houston said. "The coaches put everybody in the right position."
He offered his theory on the Herd's defensive turnaround.
"We've been more athletic and more conditioned than the other teams," Houston said. "We just set the edge and go. We're trying to send a lot of messages. To a lot of teams."
With a little help from that offense.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvin...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.