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TULSA FACES EXPLOSIVE THUNDERING HERD ON THE ROAD

Tulsa's defense will be tested on Saturday by an explosive Marshall offense.
Tulsa's defense will be tested on Saturday by an explosive Marshall offense.
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Oct. 5, 2012

Huntington, West Virginia - The Tulsa football team takes its undefeated Conference USA mark into Huntington, West Virginia to face the explosive Marshall Thundering Herd on Saturday. The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network with kickoff at 2:34 pm (CT)/3:34 pm (ET) from Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Tulsa arrived in Huntington Friday afternoon at 4:30 pm after going through final preparations at H.A. Chapman Stadium in the late morning.

Tulsa has posted an overall 4-1 record and sits 2-0 atop the C-USA West Division, while Marshall has an overall mark of 2-3 and a 1-0 league record.

It's a game with two high-scoring offenses, as Tulsa is first in Conference USA with a 42.0 average and the Herd is one point behind at a 41.0 scoring average per game. But, it's the league's top offense, Marshall, facing C-USA's top defense, Tulsa.

The Herd enters the game with an offense ranked third in the nation in passing with 394.6 yards per game and sixth in total offense at 555.6 yards per game. The Hurricane defense allows 338.0 yards per game and only 104.6 rushing yards.

"We've got a big challenge ahead of us. Marshall has one of the best offenses in the country and certainly statistically in our league," said Tulsa Head Coach Bill Blankenship. "They've changed their personality on offense from a year ago with the way they go all up-tempo. They're averaging 92 snaps a game, which is really phenomenal and have a 70-percent completion rate. They are very impressive on offense."

After allowing 42 points last week at UAB, the Hurricane defense will be tested even more on Saturday.

Marshall is led by the nation's top-rated passer in the likes of sophomore Rakeem Cato with 1,920 yards passing and 1,951 yards of total offense. He also has a pass efficiency rating of 144.7, while throwing for 15 touchdowns and just five interceptions. His favorite target is Tommy Shuler, who ranks first in the nation for receptions with 51, and is first in Conference USA pass catching statistics with 10.2 receptions per game for 106.8-yard average.

 

 

Shuler is not the only target for Cato as Aaron Dobson and Antavious Wilson combine for over 600 yards receiving. Like the Hurricane backfield of Ja'Terian Douglas, Trey Watts and Alex Singleton, the Herd has a trio of three red-shirt freshmen running backs all putting up big averages per attempt -- Kevin Grooms averages 6.5 yards, Steward Butler 6.0 yards and Remi Watson 5.0 yards -- and have combined for eight touchdowns.

The nation's No.1-ranked team for tackles for lost yardage and quarterback sacks, Tulsa's defense will have to disrupt Cato and the Herd's offensive attack. The front seven led up front by tackles Daeshon Bufford and Derrick Jackson and ends Cory Dorris and Jared St. John were able to get to the quarterback last week. St. John has totaled six TFLs for -35 yards, including five sacks for -34 yards, and Bufford has totaled seven TFLs for -32 yards.

Linebacker DeAundre Brown leads the Hurricane in tackles for lost yardage with 7.5 stops for -51 yards and quarterback sacks with five for -43 yards.

The secondary with safeties Dexter McCoil and Demarco Nelson and cornerbacks John Flanders and Lowell Rose will get tested more than they have through the first five games.

Tulsa's offense needs to be efficient behind the arm of junior quarterback Cody Green and the running of Tulsa's Douglas, Watts and Singleton. Green has thrown for 1,041 yards and nine touchdowns, while spreading the ball around to his receivers with sophomore Keyarris Garrett and junior Jordan James tallying 256 and 235 yards, respectively.

The trio of Hurricane tailbacks has rushed for 979 yards for 195.8 yards of Tulsa's total offense per game and 14 touchdowns.

It's expected to be a high-scoring affair in Huntington on Saturday afternoon as both teams look to stay undefeated in Conference USA action.

The Tulsa Chapter of the TU Alumni Association will host a Watch Party for the game at Charlie Mitchell's Restaurant located at 4848 South Yale Avenue.