More than ever, Holliday emphasized the need to get off to a quick start. The Herd scored first in all four of its victories, and has given up the first score in five of its six defeats - some in spectacular fashion.
"I think a lot of it is who's doing [the scoring]," Holliday said. "At Tulsa, they've got some kids who can make plays. Houston's got some kids who can make plays. That being said, we need to do a better job of stopping them, and the games we've let get away from us a little bit, we haven't done that.
"We've got to be sure we do a better job and put our kids in positions to make plays."
Some would argue Herd coaches didn't adequately prepare for the Tulsa game, with an extra week to do so. Part of the extra week was spent getting the scouting report together for the Memphis game, with a condensed practice schedule ahead.
"Sunday for us was more of a walk-through because we didn't get a day off," Holliday said. "Normally, [Monday] is their day off. We came back [Monday] and that was a combination of Tuesday and Wednesday [with pads, full contact]; today [Tuesday] will be strictly a Thursday and [today] will be strictly a Friday.
"We'll have extra time at the hotel on Thursday because we don't play until 7 o'clock their time, so we'll have time to prepare at the hotel."
There are periods during weekly practices where coaches order a very annoying CD of fight songs played at a considerable volume.
That isn't needed this week. The Liberty Bowl stands to be a quiet, quiet venue.
An estimated 5,000 attended the Memphis-UAB game, though the official attendance was listed as 17,848. Five thousand could be a generous figure Thursday night.
The trick for the visiting team is not to fall asleep.
"At the end of practice [Monday], I had them all in [a huddle] and I told them to look around," Holliday said. "Look around at the [empty] stadium; that's how it's going to be Thursday night."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com.