WVU - Marshall Game Preview

After an nine-year hiatus, the in-state game between the Thundering Herd and Mountaineers has been renewed.

BlueGoldNews.com Game Scorecard
Series: 5-0-0 WVU
Sat 9-2-06 3:30 pm
Morgantown, WV

Milan Puskar Stadium
Record: 0-0
AP Rank: 5th AP
Last Game
Georgia 38-35 W

Rtn Lettermen: 48
Rtn Starters: 15
Click for College Park, Maryland Forecast
Record: 0-0
AP Rank: NR
Last Game
Memphis 3-26 L
Rtn Lettermen: 47
Rtn Starters: 18
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2006 Schedule
First Meeting: 1911
Last Meeting: 1997
Press Release
Season Stats
2006 Schedule

Common Opponents to Date:

None to date


WVU - Doug Slavonic Out (Ankle), Ridwan Malik Out

Marshall - Hiram Moore Out (Suspension), Ahmad Bradshaw Probable (Ankle), Geremy Rodamer Questionable (Legal)

Game Outlook:

WVU offense vs. MU defense

Game Info
WVU 0-0, 0-0
MU 0-0, 0-0
Sat 9-2-06 3:30 pm
Milan Puskar Stadium
Series: 5-0-0 WVU
TV:ESPN Regional
Sagarin: WVU-18 MU-79
Line: WVU -21
Stats & Trends
If the Thundering Herd plans on upsetting the fifth-ranked Mountaineers, the Herd defense must find a way to stop the triple-headed monster of Pat White, Steve Slaton and Owen Schmitt. Defensive coordinator Jim Collins will use a 4-3 alignment to slow the Blue and Gold, but will often stack the box with eight and possibly nine men.

The Marshall defense includes a solid linebacking corps, led by 2006 All-Conference USA candidates Dennis Thornton (5-11, 215) and Matt Couch (6-2, 235). Thornton and Couch led Marshall in tackles last season with 104 and 97, respectively. The duo combined to total 15 tackles for loss, two interceptions, and six pass breakups. Look for Thornton to be spotted at different spots on the field to take advantage of his skills.

Manning the middle linebacker spot will be Brandon Souder (6-2, 236), a senior with limited playing experience. Spelling Souder will be talented junior college transfer Josh Johnson (6-2, 250). Johnson, a one-time University of Georgia signee, is inexperienced in the Marshall defensive system but has too much talent to stay on the sidelines.

Rounding out the linebacking corps is Ian Hoskins (6-2, 245). Hoskins saw his first start in 2005 against Virginia Tech and finished the season with 15 tackles, one for a loss.

The defensive line is lead by Albert McClellan (6-2, 245). McClellan, a 2005 College Football News Freshman All-American, racked up 40 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, including three sacks. Playing the opposite defensive end position is Shavar Green (6-0, 226), who totaled 22 stops and four sacks in 2005.

Starting in the interior defensive line will be hole pluggers Byron Tinker (6-4, 281) and Chris Terrell (6-6, 326). The duo combined for 16 tackles last season with Terrell getting the only start, against East Carolina.

Manning the cornerback spots will be James Johnson (5-11, 181) and Jeremy Frazie (5-10, 181) . Johnson, a sophomore, had an outstanding freshman season, recording 42 tackles, three forced fumbles and one sack. Frazie, a former walk-on, will be seeing his first significant action this season.

Starting at strong safety is Curtis Keyes (6-0, 195). Keyes , a 2006 All-Conference USA candidate, led Marshall defensive backs last season with an impressive 88 tackles, including four behind the line of scrimmage. Keyes, known for his hard-hitting stops, recorded 11 tackles against Virginia Tech in 2005. Geremy Rodamer (6-0, 197), a Morgantown native, will start at free safety if head coach Mark Snyder overlooks recently re-filed criminal charges against him. Rodamer recorded 29 tackles and one interception as a sophomore.

By The Numbers (Final 2005 Stats):
WVU is ranked 50th in total offense (388.92 yds/game), 4th in rushing offense (272.42 yds/game) and 115th in passing offense (116.50 yds/game).

MU is ranked 33rd in total defense (340.27 yds/game), 75th in rushing defense (161.82 yds/game) and 73rd in passing efficiency defense (127.28 rating).

Advantage: WVU

WVU defense vs. MU offense

The last time the Thundering Herd paid a visit to Morgantown they had two Heisman Trophy candidates on the offensive side of the ball. Although the Herd doesn't have a Chad Pennington or Randy Moss, the green and white still have some playmakers.

Bernie Morris, a one time walk-on, has won the starting quarterback job over Jimmy Skinner with solid spring and fall camps. In 2005 Morris saw action in nine games, starting in six before an injury limited his playing time late in the season. The Florda native connected on 114 of 216 passes with six touchdowns and six interceptions. The junior passed for 1121 yards with a passing efficiency rating of 99.98. Morris was also Marshall's second leading rusher with 256 yards and four touchdowns.

Joining Morris in the backfield is Ahmad Bradshaw (5-11, 197) and Chubb Small (5-9, 200). Bradshaw, a 2006 Conference USA Player or the Year Candidate, led the Herd in rushing and receiving as a sophomore. The talented back gained 997 yards on 214 carries while scoring nine touchdowns, and added 56 receptions for 381 yards and one more touchdown.

Bradshaw also has a quality backup in Small. The 2005 Conference USA All-Freshman team selection gained 197 yards on 58 attempts and hauled in nine receptions for 42 yards.

On the receiving end of Morris' passes will be a trio of wide receivers that caught a total of 47 passes last season. With Hiram Moore out, Marcus Fitzgerald (5-10, 200) is the most productive returning wideout. The junior had 40 receptions for 448 yards and two touchdowns. Fitzgerald is the younger brother of Arizona Cardinal star Larry Fitzgerald.

Joining Fitzgerald will be Matt Morris (6-3, 219) and Emmanuel Spann (5-11, 175). Morris saw action in eight games last season, hauling in six passes for 81 yards. The junior was moved to wide receiver after spending his sophomore season at tight end. Spann missed the 2005 campaign due to injury but is a talented receiver that should not be overlooked by the WVU secondary.

Starting at tight end is Brian Shope (6-5, 235). Shope recorded only one reception in eight games a year ago but looks to become more active in the Herd offense this season.

Anchoring the Marshall offensive line is 2006 Rimington Award and All-American candidate Doug Legursky (6-3, 311). Legursky has seen action in every game since he joined the Thundering Herd in 2004. The junior was also the 2003 Hunt Award Winner as the best lineman in the state of West Virginia.

Joining Legursky in the interior of the offensive line will be David Ziegler (6-5, 297) and Brian Leggett (6-1, 289). Ziegler started all 11 games last year for the Herd while Leggett is entering his first season as a starter.

Manning the tackle positions will be Seth Cook (6-4, 315) and Wesley Jones (6-5, 338). Cook is an experienced right tackle with 22 starts under his belt while Jones will be seeing his first starting action.

By The Numbers (Final 2005 Stats):
WVU is ranked 15th in total defense (310.75 yds/game), 19th in rushing defense (109.67 yds/game) and 30th in passing efficiency defense (116.00).

MU is ranked 89th in total offense (329.00 yds/game), 84th in rushing offense (123.91 yds/game) and 79th in passing offense (205.09 yds/game).

Advantage: WVU

WVU special teams vs. MU special teams

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If the game turns out to be as wet as the weatherman is predicting, special teams could prove to be the difference in the outcome.

Handling the place kicking duties for the Herd will be Anthony Biswanger (6-2, 190). The Diablo Valley transfer will be seeing his first game action for the Herd. Last season for the Vikings, Binswanger connected on nine of 12 field goals and 26 of 27 extra points.

Punting for the Herd will be Ian O'Connor (6-3, 195). O'Connor, a senior, was the Herd placekicker in 2005 but averaged 40.4 yards per punt as a sophomore in 2004.

Returning kickoffs and punts will be Chubb Small (5-9, 200) and Emmanuel Spann (5-11, 170), respectively. In 2005, Small returned 21 kicks for an average of 25.9 yards, with his long being a 92 yard touchdown versus Tulane. The sophomore also returned 15 punts for 56 yards, a 3.7 yard average.

Spann, who sat out the 2005 season while recovering from a knee injury, returned 17 punts for 191 yards as a freshman.

By The Numbers (Final 2005 Stats):
WVU is ranked 48th in net punting (34.53 yds/punt), 21st in kick returns (23.06 yds/return) and 7th in punt returns (15.57 yds/return).

MU is ranked 64th in net punting (33.69 yds/punt), 22nd in kick returns (22.65 yds/return) and 76th in punt returns (7.73 yds/return)

Advantage: WVU

Picks to Click:

On Offense: Offensive Line

On Defense: Keilen Dykes

Totally Useless Facts:

  • The average score of the five previous games between WVU and Marshall is 50.4-10.4 in favor of the Blue and Gold.

  • Marshall is 1-8 versus ranked teams this decade. The win came against #6 ranked Kansas St. in 2003.

  • Marshall has appeared on television 43 times since 1987, posting a 23-20 record.

Be sure to check out our Stats & Trends section for lots more match up information!


Marshall enters the 2006 campaign looking to improve on a 4-7 2005 season while the Mountaineers look to take claim of their first national championship. At some point during this seven game series mandated by our fine Governor I believe the Herd will find the victory they seek over the Blue and Gold, but it's not going to be this year. This version of the Mountaineers are just too talented for a rebuilding Marshall.

WVU - 38 MU - 13

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