Rice vs. Marshall Preview

With two weeks to heal and prepare, Rice hosts Marshall this Saturday at Rice Stadium. Can the Owls get back on track Offensively? And will the Defense slow down the speedy Herd? More in this week's preview...

In looking at Rice's opponent for this Saturday's football game, its hard to figure out why Marshall doesn't have a better season record this year.

They have skill position talent, namely speed, on Offense. And on Defense they have several big, hard hitting players - including a former C-USA Defensive Player-of-the-Year Albert McClellan.

They obviously have the personnel to win football games - and looking at their schedule, the Herd's record could easily be 6-4 rather than 4-6. Marshall lost to UAB by 2, and to East Carolina in overtime by a field goal

Marshall has beaten some good teams this year - including an impressive win over Houston, who just hung 70 points on Tulsa.

So, as his usually the case in C-USA, Saturday's game will be a tough one for the Owls.

Here's more on the Herd...

Leading Rusher - Darius Marshall has 883 yards rushing on 182 carries. He has a 61 yard run to his credit this season to support that. He's a legitimate home run threat every time he touches the ball so the Owls run Defense gets yet another test Saturday.

Leading Receiver - Another "Darius", this one Passmore, is maybe the best Offensive player for the Herd. He's 6-3 and can run in the 4.3 range. Passmore is another big play threat -he averages right at 18 yards a catch and his season long is 88 yards. He's presents a tough match-up for any Secondary

Tight End Deluxe - I mentioned Marshall had several Offensive weapons. Besides guys named "Darius", Marhsall also lines up one of the best Tight Ends in the conference in Cody Slate. He is very hard to cover with a Linebacker, which usually means a Safety has to help. This poses a real problem for Defenses because of WR Passmore's ability to beat one-on-one coverage.

Chink in the Armour? - If Marshall has any weakness on Offense its that young QB Mark Cann has thrown almost as many interceptions (12), as he has touchdowns (13). He's also completing less than 50% of his passes.

Natives Getting Restless? - Though Head Coach Mark Snyder is a graduate of Marshall and also played for the Herd, his record in Huntington isn't exactly making the Herd faithfull feel warm and fuzzy. Coaching in his 4th year, Snyder is 16-29. His seat is probably one of the warmer ones in town right now.

Beware: "Thumper" - Linebacker Mario Harvey is the leading tackler on the team, but is also a big hitter. His tackling prowess has earned him the nickname: Thumper.

McClellan Back In Form - After winning C-USA Defensive Player-of-the-Year honors for his performance for his 11 sack performance in 2006, Marshall Defensive End Albert McClellan suffered a devastating knee injury in the preseason of 2007 which ended his season. After rehabilitating the knee, McClellan has come back much bigger and stronger in 2008. He's added 20 pounds since 2006 and is showing the same moves and quickness now that made him the league's best player.

It Takes a Thief - the leader in interceptions for Marshall isn't a Defensive Back - it's Linebacker Mauri Kitchens.

First Time For Everything - Marshall's Saturday meeting with the Owls will be the first time The Herd has ever played at Rice Stadium.

H-Town Homecoming - Marshall Defensive End John Youboty played high school football here in Houston at Klein High School. He is the only player from Texas on the Herd roster. Youboty got all the size in his family - he is 6-4 240 pounds while older brother Ashton, a CB for the Buffalo Bills is 5-11 175.

Plenty of Incentive - By winning its last two games of 2008, Marhsall can become eligible for post season bowl play.

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