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Defenses expected to rule as Marshall plays UConn in St. Pete Bowl

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Don’t expect a lot of points when the Marshall Thundering Herd takes on UConn in the St. Petersburg Bowl on Saturday.

Defense is the calling card of both teams, with UConn ranked 18th in the nation and Marshall tied for 32nd.

The Thundering Herd enters the game 9-3, losing once in double overtime and once in triple overtime. UConn at one point lost five of six games and finished 6-6.

The Huskies, in particular, will count on their defense to keep them in the game. UConn averages only 17.8 points per game, good for only 118th in the country. Marshall averages 32.6.

UConn coach Bob Diaco said his defense is still improving.

“I think it’s an understanding that it’s a work in progress,” he told the team website, UConnHuskies.com. “The understanding that you’re a defender. When you’re a defender, it’s never off. You’re like a fireman. It’s 2 o’clock in the morning and the bell sounds, you jump out of bed and slide down the pole. You don’t wonder how big or small the event is. You just get ready to go, and that is what a defender must live like.”

Defensive coordinator Anthony Poindexter said his defense is still young.

“We have veteran players up front,” Poindexter said. “We have three guys that have played a lot of football. They’ve really learned how to play in this defense and they’re doing a great job. We’re still kind of young on defense. I think we lose four guys, but we play a lot of guys on defense. We play 22 guys or 23 guys per game. If they’re ready to play in a game, we put them in and so far so good.”

Marshall coach Doc Holliday likes being in St. Petersburg.

“There’s no such thing as a bad bowl,” Holliday said. “They’re all great and the ones that you remember are the ones you win. There are a lot of things that are really positive about this bowl. No. 1, you get a chance to develop young players. You get a chance to get better as a team, and we get a chance to win 10 games in our season for the third straight year. And you get a chance to win four bowls out of the last five years.”

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit [email protected]

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