There's been a six-point game against UCLA and the ultimate meltdown, nine turnovers at Southern Methodist. The Mustangs scored four defensive touchdowns in a 72-42 runaway, a margin that rendered the Cougars' 580 total yards meaningless.
Those are all factors in the Cougars being in the same boat as Marshall - 4-6 (3-3 C-USA) and needing to win twice to land in a bowl game. Piland averages 294.2 yards per game but has tossed 12 to the wrong team.
"The quarterback [has struggled with] timing," Rippon said of Piland, who played for an injured Keenum in 2010. "It takes time for them for that to go. And we're talking about things that are bothering them, and they're still putting up 30 points a game, they're still No. 2 in the conference in passing [yardage].
"What I noticed is they're not having the explosive plays that they've had - the passes of plus-20, the runs of plus-15, there's not as many."
The Cougars had nine such plays in last year's game, three directly resulting in touchdowns. They ran only 57 plays but they averaged 10.9 yards a snap.
Rippon is bracing for more of the former figure, and hoping for much less of the latter. "Tempo-wise, their offense is extremely fast. And they're a good team, a great challenge," he said.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.