CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- TRIVIA QUESTIONS for Marshall fans, who should have breathed easier after their team sprayed gasoline on the Southern Mississippi dumpster fire:
(a) The Thundering Herd has scored an unthinkable 120 points over two consecutive games against the once-proud Golden Eagles. Who was the last MU opponent so victimized?
(b) The Herd scored 110 points over the last two games, though it has only a split to show for it. When was the last time the offense was so proficient, and against what teams?
(c) When was the last time a Marshall team faced just nine third downs in a game?
Leftovers from Marshall's biggest whipping of a conference opponent in 14 years:
Thompson, who started at Middle Tennessee the previous week but didn't do much, had two pass breakups, two quarterback hurries and two tackles - both for loss - against Southern Miss. One was a 9-yard sack of quarterback Nick Mullens, but the other tackle may have been more telling - on the last play of the third quarter, he buried receiver Tyre'oune Holmes for a 9-yard loss on a reverse.
Southern Miss players and coaches probably had watched the freshman Thompson get sucked in on a 29-yard reverse by Texas-San Antonio. This time, Thompson stayed home and devoured Holmes.
"He's taken coaching; he's a smart kid," said MU coach Doc Holliday. "He's doing now what he's coached to do. That was a big play for us; that was a critical minus-yardage stop, and he did a nice job staying home on that deal."
Taliaferro appeared to be carrying the ball properly, but it wasn't snug enough. USM's Emmanuel Johnson caught up to the senior and punched the ball away volleyball-style. Taliaferro described how the rest of the play went in slow motion, as Johnson had him on the ground and the ball rolled out of the end zone.
"I didn't feel him," Taliaferro said. "Normally when you are running, you don't look back but you can feel the pressure coming up on you. It never happened to me before."
"Tuck the ball. Coach has been telling me since day one to hold the ball, tuck the ball," he said. "I've got to do a better job of that. It's just an instant - I'm not trying to do it on purpose or anything, that's an instant, a bad habit from growing up. I have to find a way to get rid of that."