Story by Britton Barnette / Contributing Writer
The Blue Raiders continue Conference USA play this Saturday where they will host the Marshall Thundering Herd for the 14th installment of the blackout game. Following a winless three game road trip, MTSU will be looking to turn things around in their first game at Floyd Stadium in 29 days.
Since joining C-USA in 2013, the two teams have split the series 4-4. Last meeting, a nationally ranked Marshall team stomped the Blue Raiders 42-14, but this year’s Thundering Herd team is coming off of a two-game losing skid, watching consecutive fourth quarter leads evaporate.
Marshall’s offense, led by quarterback Grant Wells and running back Rasheem Ali, both freshmen, has been explosive to start the year.
Scoring 40 points twice, and 30 points or more in every game, the only thing that can slow this offense down is their own defense. In the Herd’s last two contests, the defense, led by Junior linebacker Abraham Beauplan, has allowed 42 and 31 points.
Quarterback Chase Cunningham will make his second career start for the Blue Raiders, following a record-breaking debut where he threw for 379 yards and five touchdowns last week. All five of his touchdowns went to different receivers, but senior captain Jarrin Pierce emerged as a favorite target with 10 balls thrown his way. Cunningham is also one of only four quarterbacks in the nation with at least eight passing touchdowns and no interceptions.
Offensive Coordinator Brent Dearmon will hope to unlock the abysmal rushing attack for the Blue Raiders against a porous defense that is giving up 211 yards per game on the ground. Senior running back Amir Rasul hasn’t been getting traction thus far this season, with only 92 yards gained on 35 carries.
On the defensive side, captain Reed Blankenship broke the career record for tackles last week, and will look to continue slowing down the passing attack from the safety position. Defensive end and captain Jordan Ferguson will need to continue his strong performance on the line to slow down the nation’s top touchdown scoring position player in Rasheem Ali.