LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The ground game will be a point of emphasis for both Marshall and Louisville when the two teams hook up in a non-conference game Saturday at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
The Thundering Herd average 88.3 yards rushing per game and rank 103rd in the nation.
"We have some issues we need to clean up," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. "To be honest, the offensive line blocked Virginia Tech a lot better then I really thought they would at times. We just have to get better as a football team.
"I've said it a thousand times, the one thing we can't do is become one-dimensional. It's on all of us. The entire offense just has to go out and get better."
The Cardinals' dilemma hinges on the fact they are trying to settle on a go-to guy in the backfield. Second-year coach Charlie Strong has relied on three individuals - senior Victor Anderson and sophomores Jeremy Wright and Dominique Brown - to share the workload.
"When you look at the three backs that we have, I would like to see us get a 100-yard rusher and then continue to improve each week running the football," said Strong, who was named co-coach of the year by his peers in the Big East Conference after leading Louisville to a 7-6 finish in 2010. "To do that, we have to be able to block people and our backs have to do the job. Vic has enough speed to break a long one and Jeremy has enough speed to break a long one. Dominique is a different type of back because he's more of a bruiser who can run through people.
"You would like to see one of those guys emerge as the (No. 1 back). All of the guys are going to play, but we would like to say, 'Hey, this is the main back and this is the guy you have to stop.'"
Marshall enters the contest, which is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. start, with a 1-3 record after losing 30-13 last week to Virginia Tech. The Thundering Herd own a three-game winning streak against Louisville, but this week marks the first time they have played at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
Holliday and Strong worked together as assistant coaches at Florida, so there is a friendship which has developed between the two head coaches.
"Louisville is going to be aggressive - (coach Strong) was when he was at Florida and he's going to come after us," Holliday said. "Last Saturday, the pressure by Virginia Tech hurt them at the end of the half because (quarterback Rakeem Cato) made some things happen. Charlie isn't going to change and I expect him to bring the pressure."
Cato has thrown for 751 yards and five touchdowns. The Herd's leading ground gainer is Tron Martinez with 227 yards. The team has yet to score a touchdown running the football.
As many as three players have called the signals behind center for the Cardinals. Will Stein, who has 615 passing yards and five TDs, was nicked up two weeks ago in a 24-17 win against Kentucky and replaced by true freshman Teddy Bridgewater. Brown has also seen a few snaps in the wildcat formation.
Louisville (2-1) has had an extra week to prepare for their encounter with the Herd.
"I feel like we're going to have some excitement because of the Kentucky win, and now we're coming back to our stadium," Strong said. "We have to play better at home. We haven't played very well here and we need to do that."