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The Thundering Herd will play host to the Pirates of East Carolina in an important Conference USA game on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and the game will be available through CSTV's All-Access package.
Saturday's game will be the final home game for 13 Marshall senior football players. Over the last four years, this class has posted a record of 29-17 and appeared in two bowl games. The game is also youth day and military day - tickets for children and members of the military are available for only $10. Contact the Marshall ticket office at 1-800-THE-HERD for more information.
Marshall (4-5 overall) is in need of two wins in order to become bowl eligible with games remaining with ECU and at Memphis. If the Thundering Herd can manage to close out the regular season with wins over the Pirates and the Tigers Marshall will also guarantee itself a 22nd consecutive non-losing season - the fourth longest streak in the nation.
East Carolina is one C-USA program that Marshall does have a history with. The two schools have met six times and the Pirates hold a 4-2 series lead. The last time MU and ECU squared off was in the 2001 GMAC Bowl. Marshall took a 64-61 double-overtime win in the highest scoring bowl game ever. This will be ECU's third visit to Huntington, but first in 36 years. The Pirates downed the Herd 29-13 in 1967 and 38-7 in 1969.
The Pirates are led by quarterback James Pinkney who has thrown for 2,268 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Pinkney is averaging 252 passing yards per game and is completing 59.7% of his passes. His top target is Aundra Allison who has 73 catches for 923 yards and seven touchdowns this season.
Defensively, ECU is led by senior linebacker Chris Moore who has 74 tackles for his credit, including 17 tackles for loss and four sacks.
Marshall Plane Crash 35th Anniversary: Marshall's annual plane crash memorial service was held at the Memorial Student Center Plaza at Noon on Monday, November 14th. This year is the 35th anniversary of the tragic event that took the lives of 75 players, coaches, staff members, community supporters, and the flight crew returning from a game at East Carolina that the Herd lost 17-14. In memory of those who lost their lives, the Thundering Herd football team will wear special decals on their helmets for the East Carolina game.
Marshall-ECU Meet Again: East Carolina is one C-USA program that Marshall does have a history with. The two schools have met six times and the Pirates hold a 4-2 series lead. The last time MU and ECU squared off against each other history was made in the 2001 GMAC Bowl. Marshall took a 64-61 double-overtime win in the highest scoring bowl game ever. This will be ECU's third visit to Huntington. The Pirates downed the Herd 29-13 in 1967 and 38-7 in 1969.
Quotes from Mark Snyder's Weekly Press Conference
On Saturday's Game
"I think it's going to be a very emotional weekend for the tri-state area. If you look back 35 years and the East Carolina game, now we have them coming here. First and foremost, it's going to be a special game for this area and the state of West Virginia. We have a wounded team of sorts coming in here. East Carolina has a new coach in coach (Skip) Holtz. He's doing a great job and he's trying to formulate his plan down there. They're having some bumps in the road as they go."
"Offensively, I think (Aundrae) Allison, No. 2, is their best player. He's a very special talent. (James) Pinckney is running their offense very efficiently and (Chris) Johnson is the guy who is carrying the ball out of the backfield and catching the ball out of the backfield. He's also their kick returner. If you look at those three guys, that's almost all of their offense. Defensively, they have a very active middle backer. I thought the kid last week was really good and it seems like we're playing one every week. This kid is very active. I think the free safety is a very good player. The rest of their guys are more role players, if you will. Special teams-wise, they have a kicker (Robert Lee) who is 14 of 16 and perfect on his PATs and they have a very good punter (Ryan Dougherty), so they have a solid core of players. They've been in every game except Tulsa and Southern Miss. If you look at the Wake game and the West Virginia game, they played them very, very well. They beat Duke and they were in the Tulsa game until they roughed the punter and came back with a turnover and the momentum really swung or else that would have been a different game. So they are a very, very dangerous team coming in here and we're going to have to play extremely well."
ECU's second half vs. Tulsa seemed like a snowball effect...what did you think of it?
"It was a snowball effect. It was a very, very competitive game. If you look at the continuous tape, that's a good football game up until the roughing the punter, and you could just feel the momentum swing. Tulsa goes down and scores, then East Carolina gets the ball back and fumbles and Tulsa scores again. And that's a credit to Tulsa for doing that, but you could really see the momentum swing."
This game features two new coaches facing off. What similarities are there with these teams?
"I think we're the only two new coaches in this league this year. We're both getting a feel for our team and getting things in place that need to get in place."
On Marshall's record
"You want to win as many games as you can possibly win. 6-5 is the best we can do at this point in time. We want to be as good as we can possibly be. We want to reach our full potential is. Whatever that full potential is, there's nothing more I can ask of our guys. I think we've been striving to try to do that - RYFP, Reach Your Full Potential. If we do that, I think it will be good enough to get us to a bowl game, which would be very critical for us. We all understand that we need, I need, the staff needs more time together before we get to spring practice."
On the Offensive line
"I think our offensive line is coming and has been coming. I thought we had a nice game plan on offense. I thought we utilized our personnel last week to their abilities and we need to continue that. But I thought our offensive line played very well. They're really starting to gel and that goes back to the fact that it would be nice to get to a bowl game, we could get a lot of people gelling."
On Senior Day
"These next two games are about our seniors. They've been through some tough times and obviously had to put up with me coming in late and then having to put up with me for a year. They deserve everything that we have to give and hopefully everything we have to give will be enough to get us where we want to go. But this is about them."
How do you think the emotion of day will carry over?
"I hope that emotion carries over into an early frenzy instead of a late frenzy. That would be nice. But it will be an emotional day and I hope we come out fast because I think we are a well-conditioned football team."
Has there been a change in Jimmy Skinner throwing the ball?
"I think it's two-fold in that it's part the offensive line doing a fantastic job picking up all that stuff that Southern Miss throws at you. Southern Miss and Memphis give you more looks defensively - and I'm a defensive coach - than I've ever seen. And our offensive line did a great job picking that up. That's the first thing. The second thing is he might have been a little fresher. Bernard got a lot of the reps before that game and took a ton of reps Thursday, and I noticed even on his first pass, the zing on the ball. Maybe it's a matter of us keeping him out on Thursday and keeping Jimmy Skinner fresh so that his arm strength is there. If I was a guessing man right now, I think we learned another thing about our team - don't let him throw a bunch of balls on Thursday and keep his arm fresh."
The last four games have gone down to wire. Is there any reason that seems to be the norm?
"I think there's no quit to our team. You're seeing a bunch of guys out there that are very youthful that don't want to make mistakes for their coaches and teammates. And you play a little tentative, and you get down 14, 17 points and they cut it loose, and I think you're seeing the results of that. Our goal as we learn this team is let's go play and that's going to be our message to our seniors this week. Let's go out and play. I feel like the only time we did that this year was at Virginia Tech. We talked about all the pressure being on them and not on us, and the kids went out and played and we played pretty well. Again, that's part of the learning process and that definitely will be part of my message this week."
Do you have a gut feeling when deciding to go for the touchdown or field goal?
"You have to be able to kick the ball. It's that simple. You can't take shots at handing the ball off again, you can't take the risk of throwing the ball into the end zone. You just can't do it. Championship teams don't do that. You put yourselves in position to win the game, and you go win the game. That will not change while I'm here. We will put ourselves in position to win the game and we'll go try to win the game. And I think that's how you have to approach it."