Marshall next task for Kansas State

Bill Snyder says he's not into percentages, so don't even ask if quarterback Ell Roberson is 17 percent, 43 percent or 77 percent ready to play some football.

The Wildcat coach remains non-committal on the percentage as to whether Roberson would or would not, but he does know this when it comes to numbers.

Graham Gochneaur's completion percentage of 78 would be good "against air." And, Gochneaur is Marshall's backup quarterback.

Saturday's game will be one of backup quarterbacks, which includes Gochneaur, who is taking the place of Stan Hill (knee sprain) for Marshall, while Jeff Schwinn is the expected starter for K-State over Roberson (left hand injury).

K-State, winners of 10 games in a row dating back to last year, is 4-0 and ranked No. 6 in the nation. Marshall enters the game at 1-2. The victory was over Hofstra (45-21), while the losses were to Tennessee (34-24) and Toledo (24-17).
Saturday's 11:40 a.m. contest will be televised by Fox Sports Net, Manhattan cable channel 34.

Gochneaur finished the Tennessee game by completing 7 of 10 passes for 52 yards. Against Toledo, he was 31 of 39 for 289 yards.

One thing is for sure, Gochneaur has some trusty hands to aim his passes toward in 6-foot-2, 183-pound Darius Watts and 6-1, 185-pound Josh Davis. And yes, Snyder is putting the Thundering Herd twosome in the same breath as the best in the Big 12, who the Wildcats will see in the next couple weeks - Roy
"They are really talented guys," Snyder said of Marshall's pass catchers. "Watts is certainly one, but Davis is only a step behind. And speed wise, he's not behind at all. Those are 4.3 guys. It'll be a test."

In last week's loss to Toledo, Darius caught 10 passes for 105 yards, while he had nine for 106 yards against Tennessee. Watts' 8.67 receptions per game ranks seventh in the nation.

"He's as good as there is," said Snyder. "He's very talented, very athletic, has good height to him and runs fast, fast, fast."

KSU defensive coordinator Bob Elliott said of Watts, "He's as good as I've seen. He's one of the best in the country who isn't being paid."

While Gochnauer suffered the loss against Toledo, Marshall coach Bob Pruett was not putting the burden on his backup QB.

Instead, it was due to three lost fumbles, two interceptions and failing to convert three late-game short- short-yardage plays.

"In my mind, that's seven or eight turnovers in the game," Pruett said. "You can't beat people doing that."

Marshall's downfall defensively against Tennessee and Toledo was in stopping the run. The Vols gained 223 yards on the ground and Toledo 269.

Snyder knows that, but adds, "You better be balanced in what you do. I know this, we will see all of them ... however many guys they can get on the field, they'll be trying to stop the run, so we'd better be able to throw it."

On the Wildcats, Pruett said the style was similar to Virginia Tech.

"They run some option and they work the running game," said Pruett said. "They're a power, knock-you-down, smash mouth type of football team. They come out of a black and blue league. You better have your big boy pads on."

Pruett added, "They spread you out and you defend the option, and then they run the power up the middle on you. You have got to go helmet to helmet on them."

As for the Wildcat players, some are looking at this game as the start to the 2003 season after having their way with California, Troy State, McNeese State and UMass by an average score of 44-13.

"We're in the meat of our season now and every game is really, really important," said senior linebacker Josh Buhl.

Defensive end Andrew Shull added, "We'll definitely know after Saturday how good we are."

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