UCF at Marshall: Game Preview I

UCF Knights travel to Marshall to take on the Thundering Herd. Here's our first preview of the matchup.

UCF Knights vs. Marshall Thundering Herd
Saturday, November 15th, 2008 4:30pm EST

Records: UCF 2-7, Marshall 4-5
Series is tied 3-3, UCF won last year, 47-13.

The Knights continued their trend of starting games off well and then fading in the second half, as UCF fell to Southern Miss 17-6. Marshall lost a heartbreaker in overtime against ECU last week, a game which would have given the Thundering Herd sole possession of first place in the East Division.
Marshall offense- 82nd overall (79th passing, 65th rushing); Scoring- 93rd overall- 20.8 ppg. vs. UCF defense- 49th overall (77th passing, 45th rushing); Scoring- 73rd- 26.6 ppg.

The Thundering Herd has a bad taste in their mouths after falling in overtime at ECU. The loss basically ended Marshall's run for a division title, so the team will be looking to take some frustration out on UCF.

Mark Cann, a highly touted redshirt freshman, is the signal caller for Marshall and has done an adequate job this season. At 6'4", 237 lbs, Cann is a big specimen in the pocket and has an amazingly strong arm. He is sharp for a freshman, but like most freshmen he has also had some trouble with accuracy. On the year, Cann has 12 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, showing that he is still growing, but knows how to make plays.

Darius Marshall and Chubb Small form a nice one-two punch for the Thundering Herd. Marshall has accumulated over 700 yards rushing yards on the season using a nice combination of size and burst. The sophomore is complemented well by Small, a senior who has run for 303 yards on the year.

Marshall uses a spread offense to open things up, but the team has ran effectively out of it, meaning that the Knights, who were gashed in the second half by Southern Miss in a similar offense (a lot of that due to fatigue), need to be on their toes up front.

Marshall's most explosive player on offense is Darius Passmore, who has over 800 receiving yards and is averaging nearly 18 yards per catch. The senior has very good size and has been a major player for the Thundering Herd since transferring as a JUCO player. Passmore has routinely made plays all over the field, even rushing for an 80 yard touchdown earlier this season.

Best offensive matchup for Marshall: Passmore vs. UCF's secondary- DeAndre Brown, an NFL ready talent, gave the Knights fits last week and Passmore might do the same. He might not be as big and physical as Brown, but Passmore has sub 4.4 speed, meaning that UCF's safeties cannot let him get behind them.

Best defensive matchup for UCF: UCF's defensive line vs. Marshall's offensive line- The Knights defensive line has been spectacular at times of the past several weeks and while Marshall has good size up front, few teams have been able to handle Torrell Troup.

UCF offense- 119th overall (111th passing, 103rd rushing); Scoring- 116th overall- 15.7 ppg. vs. Marshall defense- 102nd overall (107th passing, 77th rushing); Scoring- 65th overall- 25.4 ppg.

Marshall's defense has been up and down this season. In Marshall's four victories, the team has given up 19 points but in five losses the team has allowed 30 points.

Marshall's front four hasn't been spectacular this year as there hasn't been a standout. Albert McClellan has made a difference from defensive end, totaling 44 tackles on the season. However, the group hasn't gotten much pressure on the quarterback this year, as McClellan leads the front four with just 2.5 sacks.

UCF has had some good drives this year, but hasn't been consistent throughout one full game. The Knights' line must be able to get some consistent push to let Brynn Harvey grow as a runner.

That might be tough against Marshall's linebackers, which is led by junior outside linebacker, Mario Harvey. Harvey leads the teams in tackles (69), tackles for loss (6.5) and sacks (4.5). He is a little short at six-feet but Harvey has explosive strength and speed. Maurice Kitchens, the team's middle-backer, leads the team with three interceptions.

The Thundering Herd has a pretty young secondary and that has been evident, as the team really hasn't made too many plays, logging just eight interceptions on the year. In fact, Marshall's secondary only has three of the team's eight,

Best offensive matchup for UCF: UCF's receivers vs. Marshall's secondary: Like last week, the receivers will get open. If the ball gets to them and if they catch it, the Knights can certainly get some big plays.

Best defensive matchup for Marshall: Marshall's pass rush vs. UCF's pass protection- The team hasn't gotten too much pressure, but if Harvey can get free, he can make some big plays in the backfield. Although the Knights did a solid job of protecting last week, they have struggled mightily with blitz pickup this year.

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