Marshall Football To Host Illinois State In Season Opener


Marshall head coach Mark Snyder will begin his fourth season with the Herd

Marshall head coach Mark Snyder will begin his fourth season with the Herd

Aug. 26, 2008

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The Thundering Herd will kick off the 2008 season Saturday, playing host to the Redbirds of Illinois State University at 4:30 pm at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

Saturday's contest will be televised by WOWK in Charleston and Huntington, WVNS in Beckley and Oak Hill and WBOY in the Clarksburg/Morgantown region. Rick Dayton will do play-by-play with Jim Donnan serving as analyst and Steve McGehee on the sidelines.

Fans are encouraged to arrive early as the first 5,000 through the gate will receive a free Marshall schedule magnet. Also prior to the game, the game ball will be delivered by the U.S. Army Fastrax Airborne Parachute Team.

This weekend's game will mark the fifth meeting between Marshall and Illinois State. The Thundering Herd leads the series, 3-1. The two teams last met in 1984 with Marshall edging the Redbirds 10-3 in Normal, Illinois. In 1983 Illinois State came to Fairfield Stadium and handed Marshall a 27-3 loss. Prior to that, Marshall picked-up a 36-3 win in Huntington in 1975 and followed that with a 23-13 win in Normal in 1976.

The Herd returns 15 starters from last season, with four earning preseason All-Conference USA recognition from the league's coaches - junior tight end Cody Slate, senior free safety C.J. Spillman, junior defensive end Albert McClellan, and sophomore running back and kick returner Darius Marshall. Slate was also a Mackey Award Watch List selection, the award given to the top tight end in the nation.

Saturday's game will also mark the highly anticipated return of 2006 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year Albert McClellan. McClellan recorded 19 tackles for loss and 11 sacks as a sophomore en route to first-team all-conference and All-America honors in 2006. He suffered a knee injury in preseason camp last year that forced him to miss all of the 2007 campaign. He is now healthy and ready to lead a much improved Marshall defense in 2008.

That defense, along with the offense are both under new leadership as defensive coordinator Rick Minter and offensive coordinator John Shannon will make their Marshall debuts. Both coaches are veterans that bring a wealth of experience to the Herd. Minter has had coaching stints at Notre Dame, South Carolina, Cincinnati (where he served as head coach) and Ball State. Shannon's resume includes stops at Toledo, Troy, Jackson State, Maryland, Pacific and Richmond.

Illinois State, a member of the Missouri Valley Conference, comes into 2008 after posting a 4-7 record in 2007. The Redbirds are led by 9th-year head coach Denver Johnson, who owns a 45-46 record at the helm of the program.

Making his first career start for the Redbirds will be senior quarterback Kevin Brockway. Brockway spent three seasons as a backup for ISU and comes into Saturday's game with five pass attempts in his career. He replaces Luke Drone, who threw for 8,123 yards in his career.