Marshall Players Enjoy Win, Look To Wisconsin

Marshall fans and players alike were very pleased about the Thundering Herd opening up with a 35-10 win over Illinois State on Saturday. Marshall ran the ball well, hit a 88-yard touchdown pass, held ISU to just three points after a first quarter touchdown and got big plays out of the special teams. Mark Snyder and his players talked about the win, and look ahead to this week at Wisconsin.

Snyder will return to Madison, Wisconsin, where he coached against the Badgers at both Ohio State and Minnesota. "I have some bad memories of that place," said Snyder of Camp Randall Stadium. The fifth-oldest BCS stadium in the nation, the home of the Badgers now holds over 80,000. It is also where the Badgers are 34-1 in their last 35 games, were 7-0 at home the past two seasons and have won 15 games in a row, second-longest home winning steak to only Oklahoma. "They are a very good football team and it is a hostile environment, but our kids are looking forward to it. They'll have fun up there."

Looking back at last week's opening win, the second in four seasons for Marshall under Snyder, he was pleased with various areas of his team's play, including that of freshman quarterback Mark Cann. "After looking at the film, he played a little better than I thought he did. Some of the things that maybe looked like his fault were really breakdowns (at other positions). He managed the game pretty well, and we'll need that again as we go against 80,000 this week. I was pleased."

Mark Cann made his first collegiate start, leading the Herd to a 35-10 win over Illinois State. photo by Greg Perry, Herd Insider

"It was exciting to get it under our belt, exciting to come out of the game with a win," said the young quarterback of the Herd, who hit 11-of-22 passing for 162 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Cann, a red-shirt frosh from Landrum, S.C., was also not sacked in the ball game, and praised the play of his offensive line. "We feel like we have a good group up there and (they all) did a good job on Saturday. We've got a big task ahead of us this weekend, but we look forward to it."

The 88-yard touchdown pass to senior Darius Passmore was a play that surprised many fans, members of the media and perhaps, according to Cann, even Illinois State, as many observers expected Snyder to have his QB take a knee and go to the house 7-7. "Maybe Illinois State thought that too," said Cann. "They were getting after us pretty good, and we were lucky to get that big play in right before the half."

The other play Cann addressed was the interception by Tom Nelson in the end zone, turning away another first half score. For ISU safety Tom Nelson, it was his seventh career pick, five of which have come against FBS teams (including two against Missouri's Heisman candidate, Chase Daniels). "He's a good player," said Cann, "and I floated it, threw it outside and needed to get more on the ball."

Corey Hart got his first start at linebacker on Saturday against the Redbirds, a 35-10 Herd win. This week, MU heads for a first-ever meeting with Wisconsin. photo from

Corey Hart was part of a Herd defense that only allowed Illinois State 98 net yards rushing, 2.5 yards per carry. He got his first start at linebacker for the Herd and came up with three tackles, after appearing on special teams last year in seven games and recording only one stop at Cincinnati. "It felt good to go and get a chance to see what the team was like," said Hart, a sophomore from Loachapoka, Ala. "We had practiced, we never knew what we were like until we all came together and play."

After a first quarter drive of 17 plays for 76 yards and total offense of 83 yards, which came with ISU having the ball over 11 minutes, the defense gave up only three more points in the game. "First half, they got us with those screen passes," said Hart, "and we were being aggressive with the blitz. Once we settled down and began playing basic, fundamental (football), we stopped all of that."

Another player with a first start was Delvin Johnson, who sat out last season due to academic issues with his roommate Brandon Bullock and Vinny Curry. All three played significant minutes, and Johnson had three tackles from the the d-tackle position, and was very happy to finally be on the field. "It felt good, and is truly a blessing," said Johnson, a first-year sophomore from Woodruff, S.C. "I'm overwhelmed with joy, and feel real good about it." Starting the opener was something the sophomore wasn't sure about until the depth chart was released last Thursday.

"It was very emotional for me, an emotional week. All the hard work, I finally saw it come together." Johnson also said it took awhile to get together in the opener, but finally the team banded together, like the defense has been saying all camp, as a "Band of Brothers," or "BOB." "We came together as a team, as a defensive squad, a "BOB," said the 6-foot-3, 296-pound tackle, "and the defensive line started taking the pressure off the linebackers, holding the line up and freeing (our linebackers) to make plays." Johnson is looking forward to the "I think the past week, against Illinois State, we got a boost of confidence, because they are a base-rush team, and we stopped that, held them under 100 yards. We can make anything happen this coming Saturday."

NOTES: Marshall is 0-for-4 against the Big Ten, having lost to current members Ohio State (2004, 21-24), Michigan State (2000, 24-34) and Penn State (1929, 7-26, and 1930, 0-65, before PSU was in the league)…This is Marshall's first trip to the state of Wisconsin for football, but is 4-3 in men's basketball against the Badgers, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wisconsin State, all wins, and 1-3 versus Marquette…The Herd has two upsets and three wins against top-ranked teams. MU beat No. 20 Miami, Ohio at Fairfield Stadium in 1976; beat No. 25 BYU in the 1999 Motor City Bowl in Pontiac, Michigan; and beat No. 6 Kansas State at now Bill Snyder Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas in 2003. The Herd is 3-12 against ranked opponents…Snyder coached against Wisconsin from 1997-2000 with the Golden Gophers, going 0-4 versus Minnesota, and from 2001-2004 with Ohio State, going 1-3 in that time and beating the Badgers in 2002 on the way to winning a National Championship…The Herd improved to 113-14 at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium, opened in 1991, and is 16-2 in home openers since beating New Hampshire in the first game. With the win over the Redbirds, MU is 11-1 against FCS teams since joining FBS in 1997.

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