CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- MANY THOUGHTS swirling while I am hoping former Marshall players will never drop a "Lane Kiffin" reference on the coaching staff, or have any perceived reason to do so:
Defensive coordinator Chuck Heater told a little bit about the purpose of that funky package afterward, one he had an extra week to put in. He was justifiably concerned about the Roadrunners' offense and reached into his bag of tricks.
So that's what we saw on several plays Saturday - one or two down linemen with three or four defenders jumping about. Or the down linemen going back up and moving around. Or whatever - even I was getting dizzy.
When Heater first sprang it, I doubt UTSA quarterback Eric Soza had ever seen it at any level.
"It's just for passing situations. Teams have the ability to handle it, but we kind of surprised them a little bit," Heater said. "I might have bothered [Soza] today because they haven't really worked on it. People will work on it [now], obviously.
"We hope it will help create confusion in their ability to ID your rushers and make it more difficult on them. It's kind of new, kind of fun."
As impressive as anything is how Heater is bringing in these new wrinkles. His goal in spring practice and in preseason camp was simplicity, not giving defenders too much to think about. Play calls consist of one word instead of the four or more demanded by Heater's predecessor.
As his players grasped the base 4-2-5, they picked up the shifts into the 4-3. Mastering the latter became important down the line, as linebacker Stefan Houston returned from his ankle injury and had a full week to settle in at strong-side linebacker.
With UTSA's perimeter game, "setting the edge" and forcing the Roadrunners inside was a point of emphasis. That mission was accomplished on nearly every play, save for a 29-yard reverse in the third quarter, a play that dealt end Gary Thompson a hard lesson in overpursuit.
That's the drive A.J. Leggett ended with his interception in the end zone, putting that play into the deep recesses of memory. Those cut blocks the Herd prepared to face? The number of those were, uh, cut.
"With a team that likes to cut block, they didn't really do it as much because we set the edge," said Houston, who led the Herd with eight tackles. "Edge pressure blitzing, blitzing on the inside, all type of different plays that we ran, they didn't know what to do."
No, they didn't.
"I never like off weeks. I hate off weeks, whether we win or lose," said offensive coordinator Bill Legg. "If you win, you want to keep the rhythm going. If you lose, you want to get that taste out of your mouth as fast as humanly possible."
Rakeem Cato & Co. passed well enough and the Herd ran the ball well enough in the fourth quarter to win going away, but things must improve for Saturday's game at Florida Atlantic. The number of double-digit yardage plays wasn't great - 10, three by rush and seven by pass.
The five sacks were disconcerting. That number is the highest the Herd has yielded since the 2012 season finale against East Carolina; the nine over two games is the most since the ECU game and the game before that, against Houston.
This is my longtime beef: Defensive touchdowns and special-teams brain cramps can distort those figures, and overtimes can do it, too. Marshall's roughest defensive performance came at Ohio, but the Herd defense yielded 27 points, not 34. As you know, Steward Butler's fumbled kickoff led to a pivotal touchdown, as the Bobcats recovered the ball in the end zone.