HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Another week, another mobile quarterback for Marshall's defense to ponder.
The string has been somewhat impressive: Ohio's Tyler Tettleton, Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas, Texas-San Antonio's Eric Soza and, this week, Jaquez Johnson of Florida Atlantic.
Johnson's 404-total-yard performance last week at Alabama-Birmingham caught the attention of those who vote on Conference USA awards, as he was named the league's offensive player of the week.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound junior from Starkville, Miss., completed 23 of 36 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a career-high 105 yards and a touchdown in the Owls' 37-23 win. His 54-yard run late in the game set up his second touchdown pass, putting the game out of reach.
That performance has the full attention of Thundering Herd coach Doc Holliday, whose defense handcuffed Soza last week. The Herd faces the Owls at 5 p.m. Saturday at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, with Fox College Sports Atlantic televising.
"He's starting to look like he's coming into his own," Holliday said. "He's had over 60 carries in his last four games. So he can not only throw it, but he's part of their running game and he throws it plenty well enough to beat you, if you're not prepared."
Getting Johnson down won't be easy, but Holliday reports that the Herd's tackling remains solid. He said his team had six missed tackles, easily fulfilling the single-digit standard.
"They're tacking extremely well," Holliday said. "That's four out of the five games we're in single-digit missed tackles. The only game we weren't was Gardner-Webb [with liberal substitution]."
Down in Boca Raton, the Owls will be down a cornerback, as Keith Reaser tore his anterior cruciate ligament and will miss the rest of the season. Reaser started 33 games in his career and had 26 tackles and four pass-breakups this season.
Coach Carl Pelini said Tuesday that tests had not yet been done on the knee, but the Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale reported that FAU officials revealed the severity of the injury. The day before, Pelini addressed the loss of his fifth-year senior from Miami.
"I've said it from the start of the year," Pelini said. "I think Keith is one of the better defensive backs, not only in this conference but in this country, probably. Keith is a leader on this team; people respect him."
Sophomore Sharrod Neasman is listed as Reaser's replacement in FAU's game notes, and others such as Cre'von LeBlanc, Reggie Brown and Josh Orsino will play a part in picking up the slack. The Owls often use nickel and dime formations, of which you can expect a healthy dose against the Herd.
Leading off the press conference, Holliday announced two new game captains for the week, linebacker Neville Hewitt and defensive end Ra'Shawde Myers. Those are the seventh and eighth defensive players to serve in that capacity.
The offensive representatives are long-term repeat selections, quarterback Rakeem Cato and center Chris Jasperse.