Defensive end Vinny Curry is taking bereavement leave following the death of his mother early Monday morning. He is back home in New Jersey, and his plans are uncertain for Saturday.
Curry's mother had been ill for some time.
"I can't say if he's going to play or not at this point," Holliday said. "They're making arrangements right now for her funeral, and our thoughts and prayers are with Vinny. We're going to support Vinny on whatever he decides to. We've got things set up to where we can get him back here afterwards, once they make the arrangements."
On the injury front, Holliday hopes to have left tackle Ryan Tillman back, but Jordan Jeffries will prepare for a possible first start. He said defensive tackle Marques Aiken's ankle is fine, though he is still fighting through the nagging pain of his hernia.
The return of safety D.J. Hunter, once ticketed as a starting safety beside Omar Brown, remains a question mark.
"He's getting closer. I don't know what the timeline is," Holliday said. "I'd love to sit here and tell you he's going to play. He needs practice, and he's going to go and practice today. We've got to make the right decision, from our doctors and our trainers, that we can't set that kid back."
Holliday acknowledged the Herd's offense must get better - quite a bit better after a 130-yard effort at UCF - but defended the overall scheme.
"Our offense is very similar, as far as our philosophy goes, to Southern Miss. Southern Miss is 18th in America right now in total offense," Holliday said. "A lot of that has to do with [the fact that] they have a fourth-year quarterback. That's their quarterback, they've got good skill kids; a lot of things go into that.
"They run the same plays, we run the same routes. Are we doing it perfectly? No, we're not. We've got to get better."
Back to the Ward-Taliaferro issue. The two have combined for six carries, all in mop-up time during the rout by Ohio, but Holliday is sticking with the Martinez-Van rotation.
But as the coach points out, Ward doesn't play a bit role with the team.
"Martin Ward, he's our special-team captain. I named him that last week," Holliday said. "He's done a tremendous job, he's got a great attitude, he's playing on all four special teams and I like what he's all about."
The Herd reportedly secured a commitment from Cameron Dees, a 6-foot-2, 280-pound center from Seffner, Fla. Rivals gives him three stars and ranks him 16th among centers.
Seffner is east of Tampa, a slight departure from Holliday's recruiting wheelhouse of the Palm Beach-Fort Lauderdale-Miami corridor. Dees' school, Armwood High, is 6-0 and ranked sixth in the USA Today Super 25 Poll and second in Max Preps' Xcellent 25 Writers' Poll.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com.