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Thundering Herd won#039;t ambush Kansas State this time

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - It was the best thing and the worst thing.

When Marshall shocked Kansas State two years ago on the Wildcats home field, it was one of the greatest wins in school history.

But Saturday there will be no sneaking up on the unranked Wildcats as the two teams meet in a special 10:30 a.m. kickoff on ESPN2.

"They have a ton of team speed and it really jumps out at you on tape. (Coach Bill Snyder) obviously targets speed when he recruits and he has done it again," Marshall first-year head coach Mark Snyder said.

Kansas State was only 4-7 last season, the first time in 12 seasons 17-year veteran head coach Bill Snyder didn't take his team to a postseason bowl game.

Despite the poor season, coach Mark Snyder is not deceived by the Wildcats record. Marshall's coach Snyder has nothing but respect for his Kansas State counterpart.

"I am especially honored that I get to coach on the other side of a guy I really respect. He is one of

the coaches that as a young coach you look up to," Mark Snyder said. "He has done a fantastic job and they are a very well-coached team. We will have our hands full on Saturday."

The offense lost running back Darren Sproles to the NFL but returns quarterbacks Dylan Meier and Allen Webb who combined for more than 2,000 yards passing last season.

However, the Wildcats allowed at least 31 points in all seven of their losses which leaves the defense a major concern for coach Bill Snyder.

After going from 6-2 in the Big 12 to 2-6, Bill Snyder has removed the players' names from the back of their jerseys. But 30 lettermen including 16 starters are back to give the Wildcats a good mix of youth and experience.

"We are playing a very good football team," Mark Snyder said. "One of our goals last week was to stop the run and we didn't do it, in my opinion. If we don't do it this week we will see nothing else."

Herd wide receiver Wilbur Hargrove said Marshall needs to be the calm within the emotional storm.

"We just have to relax. We get nervous and can't move the ball. We just have to take it one play at a time," Hargrove said.

Mark Snyder said his team must be an improved product from the one that opened the season with a 36-24 win over William & Mary.

"We worked hard on trying to address out mistakes," Mark Snyder said. "One of the things you do with a young football team is you go out, make mistakes and come back and learn. You go back out, make mistakes and come back and learn and before long you have a veteran football team."

Saturday is Bobby Pruett Day. Prior to the kickoff, a major announcement concerning the latest honor for the former Thundering Herd coach will be made.

Pruett, who retired this past spring, is Marshall's all-time winningest head football coach.

The Beckley native led Marshall to an impressive 94-23 record over his nine seasons as head coach. He guided Marshall to the 1996 I-AA National Championship, five Mid-American Conference Championships, and seven bowl berths.