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Marshall wearing target

Bob Pruett said Marshall is facing its toughest schedule to date, but with 19 starters returning the Herd doesn’t figure to draw any sympathy from its opponents.

Thursday, August 12, 1999

Bob Pruett said Marshall is facing its toughest schedule to date, but with 19 starters returning the Herd doesn’t figure to draw any sympathy from its opponents. In fact, he expects every team to be at at the top of its game.

&uot;History doesn’t mean anything. We have to go out each day and prove we’re good enough now and work on proving we’re a top 25 team,&uot; said Pruett at Wednesday’s annual media day for the Thundering Herd football team.

&uot;Instead of talking the talk, we have to walk the walk. Everyone we play, they’re looking at Marshall. We’re their big game. We’re going to get everybody’s best shot.&uot;

Marshall, 12-1 last season in winning the MAC and the second annual Motor City Bowl, has been ranked as high as No. 24 in the Sports Illustrated preseason poll.

Being the favorite to win a third straight Mid-American Conference title hasn’t added any pressure to the Herd players.

Sophomore defensive back Michael Owens said the team understands its position based on past years.

&uot;Coach Pruett told us the other day that we’re the Florida of the MAC, so there’s a big red arrow on our chest,&uot; said Owens.

Offensive tackle Mike Guilliams knows the Herd has the proverbial bull’s-eye on their chest for opponents to shoot at, but he doesn’t mind.

&uot;I would rather be in that position than in the back of the pack,&uot; said Guilliams.

Running back Doug Chapman, who now weighs 220 pounds but said he hasn’t lost any speed, isn’t worried about all the hype or being a target. He just wants to go one step better this season.

&uot;My main goal is to go 13-0. It’s not about personal goals,&uot; said Chapman. &uot;If we go 13-0, it will be a good for the seniors to have played four years and lose only four games. That’s one of our team goals.&uot;

&uot;The ultimate goal is to win all our games,&uot; said Giradie Mercer.

The 6-foot-2, 285-pound Mercer, considered the top defensive end in the MAC, wants the seniors to lead in a different way. He said the team celebrated wildly after winning at South Carolina. This year, Mercer wants the players to act in a different manner, especially at Clemson in the season opener on Sept. 4.

&uot;This year is going to be a little different. This year, we’re just going to walk off the field because we expect to win,&uot; said Mercer &uot;We’re going to go down there and keep our composure. Our guys won’t let the hostile environment to get to them.&uot;

Senior quarterback Chad Pennington, being promoted by Marshall as a Heisman Trophy candidate, agreed with Mercer.

&uot;It’s different this year. We’ve already proved that we could play at the I-A level. We don’t want to hear we’re over-rated. It’s much harder to stay on top than being the underdog,&uot; said Pennington.