Herd won’t take 2-7 UCF lightly in Saturday’s clash

Published 3:51 am Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Marshall head coach Mark Snyder is going on record to say that the Central Florida Golden Knights’ record falls under the category of “You can throw the records out the window.”

Just a year ago Central Florida was 10-4 and Conference USA champions, losing to Mississippi State in the Liberty Bowl.

But heading into Saturday’s 4:30 p.m. C-USA game against the Thundering Herd, the Knights are 2-7 and 1-4 in the East Division.

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Snyder isn’t about to take the Golden Knights lightly despite their record, especially considering the Knights roughed up the Herd 47-13 last season, that two of their losses have been in overtime, and one loss was just 20-14 on the road to the Miami Hurricanes.

Snyder said the Knights have had to adjust to the loss of running back Kevin Smith — now starting for the Detroit Lions — and several other key players.

“(Smith) was pretty good and they had a senior quarterback that managed the game very well,” said Snyder. “They lost a couple of offensive linemen, but yes, Kevin Smith is pretty special.

“They were playing the same kind of defense and the same type of special teams that they are this year. They just had a little more productivity on offense last year and they’re close.”

Central Florida coach George O’Leary said the coaching staff is working on keeping his team’s morale positive.

“My job is to make sure the coaches keep coaching and the kids keep a ‘coach me, coach’ attitude,” said O’Leary. “As long as the kid is making a good effort, then let’s coach them. But if the kid isn’t giving good effort then get someone else out there.

“That is why when I talk to the team I have to make sure there is no finger-pointing going on. They have been really outstanding about that. When I got here there were a bunch of roaches around. They wanted to finger pointing and do all that, but that isn’t how you win.”

The quarterback position has been similar for both teams. Marshall redshirt freshman Mark Cann has been inconsistent much like UCF quarterback Rob Calabrese.

The Knights have tried to adjust to the quarterback problem by utilizing both Calabrese and Michael Greco.

Calabrese is 53-of-128 for 575 yards. He has five interceptions and four touchdowns.

Greco is 52-of-107 for 571 yards with four picks and five TD passes.

“The reason they’re going with Rob Calabrese is because he is throwing the ball at times pretty well, going through some growing pains a lot like us,” said Snyder.

“He’s inconsistent at times and hopefully he doesn’t get on track Saturday. He’s a lot more mobile than our guy. He’s a mobile kid. They bring Michael Greco in to run the football.”

Marshall is 4-5 and 3-2 in the East Division. The Herd needs to beat UCF and Rice in order to become bowl-eligible. The final game is against Tulsa, ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press poll.

“I thought Sunday (the players) responded very well in our team meeting and took some coaching. We’re so close. We’re right on the edge right now of being a very good football team and I think our kids know that,” said Snyder.