Herd Hosts Catamounts

Many people remember a lot of things in their life. One of my distinct memories is my first ever Marshall football game that I attended, which was also the first non high school sporting event I had ever attended. It was the fall of 1985, Marshall University versus Western Carolina University. I remember the feel in the air, and the look of the field.

The game was played in Old Fairfield Stadium, long since torn down. Visiting with my aunt, and my cousin, we parked at the old Big Bear SuperMarket. We walked across Hal Greer Boulevard, and shot down one of the brick laden streets towards the stadium. Running ahead of everyone else, I reached the south endzone. The south endzone was wear all of the busses parked that brought players, band members, and fans to the game.

The field was surrounded by a chain link fence, with big old slabs of some plastic material tied to the inside so you couldn't see through. However, there were gaps. I stood there watching warm ups while I waited. Once we arrived, we bought our tickets at the old caboose that stood outside the gates, we went inside and bought jerseys from the "Big Green Merchandise Machine." That Jersey hangs in my basement to this day.

The game ended in a 10 to 10 tie, but a passion was formed that day. Not just for the team, but for the feel of what sports can bring to someone.

This weekend, Marshall welcomes back the Catamounts of Western Carolina for the first time since 1996, when the National Champion Thundering Herd beat Western Carolina 56 to 21. The win moved Marshall's record that season to 7 – 0 overall and 4 – 0 in Southern Conference play. Marshall was led that season by captains Tim Martin, Eric Kresser, Aaron Ferguson, Melvin Cunningham, Billy Lyon, and Jermaine Swafford.

Marshall is coming off a game in which it gave up the most points since a 1923 pasting at the hands of West Virginia (81 – 0). However, there were many positives that came from the game, that were discussed in this space yesterday.

Due to the flow of the game, the Herd got to play a lot of different players. This can be shown in the stats alone as 13 receivers caught passes, and 7 players carried the football. If any freshman was going to lose his redshirt, one would think, he would have gotten onto the football field this past weekend.

In saying that, the only true freshman from the most recent recruiting class to play were Long Snapper Matt Cincotta, and running backs Steward Butler and Kevin Grooms. Grooms and Butler were non qualifiers from the previous season so technically could not redshirt, but they did play. The only player in question who could possibly lose his redshirt before the season is out, barring injury, could be A.J. Leggett. The three star defensive back was expected to play right away prior to suffering an injury early on in fall camp.

Other newcomers to play were the BCS transfers Derrick Thomas, Dominick LeGrande, and Okechukwu Okoroha, and junior college transfer Gage Niemeyer. Transfers Billy Rone and Devon Smith did not play, nor did injured defensive tackle JUCO transfer Ken Smith.

Kickoff for this weekends game is at 7pm at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

The player walk typically starts through the West Lot two hours prior to kickoff.

The Huntington Chapter of the Quarterback Club will have their luncheon today at Noon at Pullman Plaza, doors open at 11:30am.

Marshall is pushing for everyone to wear Kelly Green to each game this season.

It was not a good week for CUSA on the football field. Outgoing, and CUSA championship game ineligible UCF did beat Akron on the road handily, however, that is where the good news ended. East Carolina garnered the only other win, a hard fought home win over FCS Appalachian State. The conference ended the week with 2 wins and ten losses. Losses included a home loss to newly FBS Texas State by defending west Champion, and many peoples pre season favorite, Houston. UAB lost to Troy at home, Memphis lost to FCS Tennessee Martin at home, Tulane lost to Rutgers at home, and UTEP lost to Oklahoma at home. Marshall, Tulsa, SMU, and Southern Miss all lost by multiple scores on the road.

This week should be a little easier on the conference as only UCF, ECU Rice and UTEP face BCS opponents. UCF travels to Ohio State, ECU travels to South Carolina, Rice goes to Kansans, and UTEP goes to Ole Miss. In other games, Tulsa hosts Tulane in the first CUSA conference game of the year, Marshall hosts FCS Western Carolina, Memphis goes to Arkansas State, Houston hosts Louisiana Tech, and SMU hosts FCS Stephen F. Austin.

The Herd's contest against Western Carolina will be aired on Fox College Sports.

I can only hope that this weekend, a few new fans venture out to their first ever college football game throughout the country, and 25 years later can remember it as vividly as myself and others.

Stay tuned to Herdhaven.com for further updates.

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