Marshall athletic director and head football coach Jake Griedl said he’s glad his Mavericks will be at home when going up against Tyler Lee but adds the Red Raiders will be anything but easy to beat.
“It’s always better to start at home than away,” Griedl said. “Having that home-field advantage and being in front of your home crowd and the excitement that comes with that, I think brings a little more energy but at the end of the day, we know we’ve got a target on our back and Tyler Lee has put that target on our back just because we beat them at their place and they’re going to want to come here and do the same thing to us. There’s a little bit of a buzz right now around Marshall and that’s awesome. That’s great for our community and that’s great for our kids but at the end of the day, if we want that to keep going, we have to win.”
Griedl added the Mavericks have been preparing for a couple different possible looks from Lee’s defense.
“They also have a new defensive coordinator, J.J. Barry who’s coming from West Rusk,” Griedl explained. “From what we have on film, they’re a four-down but what we know about him is he likes to run the 3-3 stack as well so we’re preparing for both the 3-3 stack and also the four-down. We think that they’ll take (Jamal) Ligon, their defensive end and they’ll use him as a defensive end on their four-down and then when they want to go to a 3-3 stack, they’ll stand him up and get an extra high safety and play the 3-3 stack that we know coach Barry has liked to play in the past.
“Obviously, not having film on the 3-3 stack but having film on their four-down from the Pine Tree scrimmage, we’re having to be creative in practice, making sure that we’re practicing for both,” he continued. “We’re just going to have to be great with our eyes, execute up front and communicate. Our quarterback (J.J. Green) is going to have to understand how his reads change in the passing game and the running game. It’s just the disciplined aspect of having trained eyes to see what they do defensively.”
The Mavericks will also look for protection up front from guys like Remon Jones, Lewis Dunn and others.
“Our O-line has to have a great game,” Greidl said. “Their D-line is bigger and more aggressive than they were last year. I feel like our offensive line is at a better place at the beginning of this season than we were at the beginning of last season and that just comes with being in the same system for three years but we’ve got to match their intensity, plus one on it. So our O-line has to play well and when we have opportunities to throw and catch, we’ve got to take advantage of those. We have to maximize our opportunities.”
If they’re able to do that, Griedl said they have a good shot of starting off the year undefeated.
“Everyone else wants to shut that buzz down,” he said. “We’re going to have to come out and execute our game play. We’re going to have to play with great energy and play disciplined football. If we do that, then we’ll have an opportunity to come out of this thing 1-0. Tyler Lee is a good football team. It’s going to be a dogfight.”
Friday night’s season opener between the Mavericks and Red Raiders is slated for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Maverick Stadium. Tickets are on sale at the Y.A. Tittle Athletic Fieldhouse ticket window from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. today and 7 a.m. until noon Friday. Advance ticket prices are $6, $7 or $8. Tickets at the gate will cost $8, $9 or $10.