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Notebook: Haig unfazed by FAU 'icing'

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Marshall kicker Justin Haig has been "iced" a combined three times on his two game-winning field goals.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Take that, Tony Levine. Take that, Carl Pelini.

Haig only had to stand through one timeout last November against Levine's Houston Cougars, then he sneaked a 44-yarder just over the crossbar to give the Thundering Herd a 44-41 win.

Pelini had two timeouts when Haig lined up with 6 seconds left and, by golly, he put them to good use. Or was it good use?

If you talk to any kicker, he might advise you to take those timeouts home. Haig said he put the extra minutes to good use.

"It doesn't bother me," he said. "It allows me to gather everything, not rush. Just focus, stay loose, concentrate on the kick."

Haig doesn't do a lot of talking, and the coaches certainly leave him alone. That is a contrast to some of the better stories from Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz, who liked to swap bad jokes with his kickers at East Carolina.

You don't get that from Herd coach Doc Holliday. "Hell no, I had my eyes closed," he joked.

The timeouts did more damage to the psyche of Haig's teammates, save for those on the field-goal unit. Imagine if you've fought for 59 minutes, 54 seconds and suddenly, the game rests on a kicker's toe.

"It was nerve-wracking. I'm seeing everybody on the sideline [nervous]," said linebacker Jermaine Holmes. "I'm not trying to bring it up, but the Virginia Tech game, it was all adversity and he handled that real good. There's nothing any better than the way he handled it."

Herd fans were just as nervous, especially the ones cultivated among the locals - expecially, Haig's family and friends. Today, they are a jubilant bunch.

 "It's a good feeling. I had 25 people out here watching me," Haig said.

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  • Yes, Devon "Moo Moo" Smith has that punt return thing figured out. His 77-yarder was the eighth-longest in MU history, and it kind of looked easy.

    He blew by the FAU coverage unit on the left sideline, juked the kicker and changed field, beating several pursuers to the far pylon - despite those pursuers having the correct angle.

    Yes, the 5-foot-7 guy is pretty quick.

    "It was wide open," Smith said. "I had speed with it, but it was wide open. I just had to make a couple of people miss, and that's what I did."

    Briefly

  • Rakeem Cato's 41-yard TD pass to Gator Hoskins extended his streak to 24 games with a TD pass. Hoskins is now tied for 10th in career TD catches (18), tying him with Nate Poole, LaVorn Colclough and Antavious Wilson.
  • Cato became the fourth MU quarterback to top 1,500 passing yards in three consecutive seasons. The other three are Michael Payton, Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich.
  • Marshall won its first true road game in the state of Florida since 2003, a 21-7 win over Central Florida the Citrus Bowl. The Herd did beat Florida International in the 2011 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg, but it suffered four straight disasters at UCF before the Knights left Conference USA.
  • Steward Butler was left off the trip, essentially suspended. Holliday said "he is fine," health-wise.
  • The Herd had just one injury timeout, involving defensive tackle Jarquez Samuel. It was an apparent episode of cramping, and he returned.

  • Marshall is allowed to bring 70 players on the road, but only took 66 - and did not take quarterback Kevin Anderson, a Boca Raton native.
  • Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsmock@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.


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