Herd seniors end careers Saturday

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 29, 2007

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall will be saying, “Goodbye” to its seniors, but those seniors still have some work to do.

Thundering Herd head coach Mark Snyder said Saturday’s Conference USA game against the Alabama-Birmingham Blazers will be special for the seniors, but the group will be working for the future.

“I think our young guys are excited to try and send these seniors out right and I think our seniors are looking forward to trying to put us on a good road as we head into the off-season,” said Snyder.

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Among the seniors making their final appearance at Joan C. Edwards Stadium will be quarterback Bernard Morris, center Doug Legursky, wide receivers Shawn Lauson and Marcus Fitzgerald, tackle John Inman, defensive tackle Byron Tinker, defensive end Ryland Wilson, and senior kicker and punter Anthony Binswanger.

“They have persevered. These guys have not had a lot of success and they have gone through a coaching change and moved into a tougher conference,” said Snyder.

“I think they have done a pretty good job of laying down a foundation for the future. You look at this football team and they have not quit all year.”

Morris has had a career year. He has thrown for 2,840 yards and 16 touchdowns and is the team’s second leading rusher with 433 yards.

Morris needs 160 yards passing against UAB to reach the 3,000-yard plateau for the season, thus joining seven other Herd quarterbacks to reach the lofty figure.

The other quarterbacks to accomplish the feat are Chad Pennington, Byron Leftwich, Eric Kresser, John Gregory, Tony Peterson, Michael Payton and Todd Donnan.

Pennington and Leftwich did it three times each and Payton twice.

Marshall is just 2-9 on the injury-riddled season and 2-5 in the East Division of C-USA. A win against UAB would be a springboard into next season.

Snyder knows it won’t be easy.

“(UAB coach) Neil (Callaway) has done a good job. He is playing a lot of young guys and they play with a lot of passion,” said Snyder.

“They are very talented athletically. They are athletic on both sides of the ball and they are getting better.”

Quarterback Sam Hunt is 142 of 307 for 1,716 yards and nine touchdowns, but he’s been intercepted 14 times.

The running game has been comprised of Rashaud Slaughter, Brandon Thornton, Joseph Webb, and Hunt. Slaughter leads the struggling ground game with 316 yards on 96 carries. Thornton is next with 267 yards, Webb 236, and Hunt 233.

Webb is the backup quarterback.

Frantrell Forrest is the top receiver with 42 catches for 499 yards and five scores. Webb had 30 grabs for 459 yards and Mario Wright 22 receptions for 225 yards.

“It will be interesting to see how they use the quarterback. They rotated them every series last week,” said Snyder. “They have a very good freshman wideout (Forrest) and defensively we are going to get more pressure than we have seen all year.”