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Pruett ‘picks’ new starting lineup

HUNTINGTON, W.

Tuesday, August 28, 2001

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – There might be an entirely different starting lineup for the Marshall Thundering Herd Saturday against No. 1-ranked Florida than the depth chart shows.

Herd coach Bob Pruett said taking the Herd into "The Swamp" to play Florida could alter his plans.

"I feel like Custer. Don’t get any preconceived ideas when we come running out of the locker room that we’re fired up. I’m going to tell them that the last 11 guys out have to start," Pruett said with a laugh.

Pruett was only joking about changing his starting lineup, but he knows that going against the top-ranked Gators is no laughing matter, especially when his team has been listed as a 28-point underdog.

Still, Pruett said he doesn’t want to let the Gators or their 80,000-plus fans intimidate the Herd.

"We don’t worry about what Florida does. Their powder has to be a little wet for us, but we just have to take care of what we can take care of like taking care of the ball and cutting down on penalties," Pruett said.

"You have to play well in the first and fourth quarters and hang on in the second and third quarters. We only have 11 seniors so we don’t have the leadership we’ve had, but our guys will play hard."

Pruett knows all about playing at Florida, but he was on the home field side. He spent two seasons as defensive coordinator before coming to Marshall six years ago.

During those past five seasons, Pruett has guided Marshall to a 58-9 record, four straight Mid-American Conference titles, three Motor City Bowl wins, and a 15-0 NCAA Division I-AA national championship his first season.

Florida head coach Steve Spurrier has a 132-38-2 overall record with the Gators and at Duke plus a national championship. Together, Spurrier and Pruett are a combined 190-47-2.

"Spurrier has lost an awful lot of games, hasn’t he," Pruett said with a laugh, then emphasizing to the media that he was only joking. "I spent two great years there. It’s an awesome place to play and it’s an imposing place to play."

Saturday’s game will begin at 7:15 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN2.

Pruett said Marshall wanted a chance to play a team the caliber of Florida.

"We didn’t need to set the bar for anybody except Marshall," said Pruett. "To grow at Marshall, we have to set the bar higher.

"We have a chance to play the best team in the country. I know the task and the consequences. We’ve proven in the past, and I mean not just us but the other teams in the MAC, that we can play with the middle of the pack teams in the Big Ten, ACC, SEC, and Big East. We might be further along than others think, or we might be further behind than we think. We’re trying to see where we are."