Pre-season Peeks: Game 7-UB; Game 8-UCF

After a long six weeks for the Herd with only one home game, Marshall is home in late October for two straight. First, the Bulls of the University At Buffalo come to Joan C. Edwards Stadium for the annual Homecoming game. Next, the Knights of UCF try to re-group under new head coach George O'Leary following a 3-9 "night"-mare season of players flunking out, quitting and the firing of former head coach Mike Kruczek. The Knights and the Herd will continue this new rivalry in 2005 in C-USA.

Game Seven: University at Buffalo-October 23, Huntington 4:30 p.m. (Homecoming)
Nickname: Bulls
Colors:Royal Blue and White
Conference: Mid-American*
Last(at Buffalo, NY, 10/18/03): MU-26 Buffalo-16
All-time Series: Marshall 7-1
2003 Record: 1-11/1-7
Head Coach: Jim Hofher (5-30, 3 years; 49-66, 12 years including Cornell 1990-97); 0-3 vs. MU
Defensive Watch List (7 starters return):
Jr. SS Germara Williams, 5-8, 190; 81 tackles, 3 tackles-for-loss, 2 interceptions and 7 passes-broken-up last season in 10 starts; second on team in tackles in 2003 and top returning tackler for Bulls
Sr. FS J.J. Gibson, 5-9, 184; only 4 starts in 2003, recording 68 tackles (still sixth on team), 5 sacks and 5 tackles-for-loss; as freshman in 2001, recorded 108 tackles in 11 starts; 6 starts and 68 tackles in 2002.
Offensive Watch List (9 starters return):
Sr. OL Erik Zeppuhar, 6-3, 296; 32 starts over last three seasons at right guard, including only 9 last year due to injury; a red-shirt senior who is a three-year starter
Jr. RB Dave Dawson (5-7, 181) and Aaron Leeper (5-10, 199); a two-headed running attack that together piled up 1,200 yards on ground but only 3 touchdowns; Dawson had 678 yards (5.3 ypc) while Leeper, the MAC Frosh of Year in 2001, had 522 on ground (4.3 ypc); Leeper lost starting job to Dawson in 2003 when he reported out of shape (210+); Dawson had 4-50+ runs last year and 3 games with 100+ rushing
Stadium:UB Stadium (seats-31,000; surface-natural grass
2004 Schedule: 9/2 @ EMU*; 9/11 Syracuse; 9/18 @ Nevada; 9/25 @ Ohio*; 10/2 UCF*; 10/9 @ Akron*; 10/16 Miami* (HC); 10/23 @ Marshall*; 10/30 OPEN; 11/6 Kent St.*; 11/13 CMU*; 11/20 @ Connecticut
Of Note: Buffalo has won only seven games in last five years, including two straight 1-11 seasons; Last season, UB opponents outscored the Bulls 311-93 in the first half of games; Buffalo defense allowed 253 yards per game, in passing yards, to opposition; Buffalo has never been a favorite in a game with a betting line on it; Buffalo joined MAC in 1999, coming up from I-AA

Game Eight: UCF-October 30, Huntington 4:30 p.m. (Possible TV-Sunshine or Fox)
Nickname: Golden Knights
Colors: Gold and Black
Conference: Mid-American* (C-USA 2005-06)
Last (at Orlando, Fla., 11/19/03): MU-21 UCF-7
All-Time Series: Marshall 2-0
2003 Record: 3-9/2-6
Head Coach: George O'Leary (first season; 52-33 in 8 years at Georgia Tech); Defensive Coordinator for Minnesota Vikings last year
Defensive Watch List (7 starters return):
Sr. SS Atari Bigby, 5-11, 210; 1st team All-MAC in 2003 and pre-season All-MAC in 2004; number 2 on team last year by one with 112 tackles; also posted 5 passes-broken-up, 4 tackles-for-loss and a sack; 104 tackles in 2002
Sr. FS Peter Sands, 6-3, 220; leading tackler for UCF with 113 stops, along with 6 passes-broken-up, 2 interceptions and a sack and tackle-for-loss; 119 tackles and 3 interceptions in 2002; dbs only accounted for 2 interceptions as UCF had 5 INT for against 19 thrown by Knight QBs
Offensive Watch List (8 starters return):
Sr. WR Tavaris Capers, 5-8, 170; leading receiver last year, with 67 catches for 585 yards (only 8.7 ypc) and 7 TD; also led team in punt returns with 17/133 (7.8 ypr) and TD; 43 catches (10.6 ypc) in 2002
So. QB Steven Moffett, 6-3, 200; 3 starts at end of last season as true freshman, blowing red-shirt season, after 2003's QB Ryan Schneider was hurt then suspended for rest of season; threw for 168 yards (41-21-2, 2 TD) and rushing for 165 yards; O'Leary changing offense to option versus former passing look, perfect for Moffett and senior backup Jon Rivera
Stadium:Citrus Bowl (seats-70,188; surface-natural grass)
2004: 9/4 @ Wisconsin; 9/11 WVU; 9/18 @ Penn State; 9/25 OPEN; 10/2 @ Buffalo*; 10/9 No. Illinois*; 10/16 Akron*; 10/23 @ Miami*; 10/30 @ Marshall*; 11/6 Ohio* (HC); 11/13 @ Ball State*; 11/23 (Tuesday) Kent State*
Of Note: Former Vikings assistant, George O'Leary, in town to straighten mess of 2003 season (players quitting, being suspended, academic ineligibility); He has implemented a "quick-huddle" attack for the offense, geared more towards the run, with fewer reads for young QB; offense averaged only 18.7 ppg in 2003 and turned ball over 22 times in 12 games; since 1997, UCF has 41-38 mark, with a best of 9-2 in 1998; predicted to be one of the most improved teams in the nation by "Phil Steele's 2004 College Football Preview"


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