HUNTINGTON - Perhaps Marshall's rush defense might become a little less beleaguered without Tulsa to kick it around.
And kick the Golden Hurricane did in two games - a 59-17 pounding in 2011 in Tulsa and a 45-38 win Saturday at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Let's put it this way: Tulsa ran 53 times for 250 yards Saturday and that was an improvement for the Herd.
In the 2011 debacle, the Hurricane romped for 380 yards on one fewer carry.
So the two-year total is 630 yards in 105 attempts, with Trey Watts topping the 100-yard mark both times (144 and 111). Ja'Terian Douglas did not duplicate his 194-yard effort of a year ago, but Alex Singleton repeated his three touchdowns - this time, with a career-best 48-yarder.
Tulsa ran it 53 times out of 70 plays because . . . well, because it could. Marshall had given up 245 yards per game to FBS opponents, so that wasn't rocket science there.
But there were other reasons the Hurricane preferred to travel by land.
"I saw Marshall's offense, for one," said Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship. "They're a team that had been snapping the ball 92 plays a game. We felt like we needed help our defense out, if we could run the ball. We are a fairly good running team, so we were going to see if we could make that make a difference today.
"Kind of old-school, wasn't it?"
The other reason? Cody Green does not invite comparisons of Paul Smith or G.J. Kinne, previous Tulsa quarterbacks.
"They were going to take it out of the quarterback's hands, and they rushed it 53 times," said Herd coach Doc Holliday. "Number one, they're pretty good up front and they've got a back that's about 260 [Singleton]; that's a big load. At times we played pretty well but at other times we didn't tackle, get him on the ground."
This is not surprising, either: Marshall looked a lot better to Blankenship this time around. Last year, the Hurricane took command almost from the coin toss.
"There's no question this is a team on the rise, they're doing the right things, they're taking the right approach," Blankenship said. "What they're doing offensively is really hard to deal with. I still believe we're a pretty good defense [but] we had our hands full the whole day.
"They were a young team a year ago, it seemed like to me. I think those two safeties [Dominick LeGrande and Okechukwu Okoroha] are good players that came in on defense. Their skill players on offense are as good as anybody we'll see."
Blankenship liked Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato, too. Cato came in during last year's game when A.J. Graham went down with an injury, and has been MU's starter ever since.
"His poise is really what amazes me," Blankenship said. "He got in a lot of the game against us a year ago and seemed to be very green, very raw, some jitters. We didn't see any of that on film, and I didn't see that today. I think he's a talented young quarterback that's operating in the system very well."