MARSHALL - Stop the run.
Though not the official motto of the Marshall Tiger football team, the phrase does carry weight with its players. So far this season, the Tigers have held three of four opponents to under 75 rushing yards. The result has been four Marshall wins by a combined scored of 180-54.
As Marshall prepares to host the Pipestone Area Arrows on Friday for homecoming, the strategy will stay consistent. Stop the run.
Photo by Travis Andries
Marshall defensive end Tyus DeBoer, left, battles with Cody Kruger during practice on Wednesday. DeBoer has two sacks on the season, and he returned an interception for a touchdown in Marshall’s 42-20 win over Jackson County Central last Friday.
"We need to make sure that we stop the run like we always want to do," Marshall head coach Terry Bahlmann said. "(Pipestone is) going to run some different things at us."
The Arrows have jumped out to a 3-1 start (2-1 Southwest Conference), outscoring opponents 113-18 in their wins. Their only loss was last week against sixth-ranked (Class AA) Luverne, 28-7. Pipestone receives a bulk of its offense from the backfield trio of tailback Brady Bos, halfback Alex Ossefort and quarterback Jake Derby, who missed nearly all of the Arrows' winless 2011 campaign with an injury.
"One thing we take pride in is preparing for everybody the same," Bahlmann said. "We go hard every week, and Pipestone is playing a lot better. They're going to come in and try and get after it right away and we need to be able to be solid from the get-go."
Something the Arrows lack that Marshall's previous four opponents did not is a penchant for throwing the ball. The Tigers have faced either a team committed to the air (Mankato East, Redwood Valley) or a team sporting a legitimate receiving threat (Fairmont's Bryce Holm, Jackson County Central's Zach Copley).
"Each week is different and you just have to match up, and all the matchups are different," Bahlmann said. "We want to stop the run and play from there. (Derby) has done a nice job and he's been able to move around in the pocket. We've got to keep him in and put a lot of pressure on him."
Pressuring the quarterback has been a strength of the Tigers this season, resulting in either a sack or, as was the case against JCC last week, an interception returned for touchdown. Linebacker Alex Werner leads the Tigers with five sacks, and defensive end Tyus DeBoer has two. DeBoer also has an interception, which he returned for a touchdown against JCC.
If Pipestone is going to pick up just the school's second win against Marshall under Bahlmann's tenure (the Tigers are 7-1 against Pipestone under Bahlmann), it may need to hope for some Tiger homecoming bad luck. But even that seems to be in short supply under Bahlmann.
"We just always tell them on homecoming, our job is to play the football game," Bahlmann said. "Have fun during the week, but focus on football. That's what you're going to remember, is how your homecoming game went. And our job is to play that game."
The only week of the season when the Marshall Tiger football team discards its midnight black uniforms for pumpkin orange hadn't always been the most fruitful for the Tigers, but lately, whether outfitted in black or orange, the Tigers have been untouchable at home.
Marshall (4-0 overall, 2-0 Southwest Conference) will enter Friday on 15-game home winning streak, a 12-game Southwest Conference winning streak, and a two-game winning streak over the Arrows. Pipestone's last win over Marshall came in Pipestone in 2009, a 20-17 victory in overtime.