Herd facing huge challenge in UCF

Published 12:56 am Friday, October 26, 2012

Jim Walker



HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall head coach Doc Holliday doesn’t mind stating the obvious.

With the Central Florida Silver Knights visiting at 8 p.m. Saturday in a Conference USA game, the Thundering Herd understands the magnitude of the game.

“It’s obvious we have a great challenge coming in here. (UCF) has been picked by most of the experts to be playing for the conference championship,” said Holliday.

“They are a physical team and very well-coached. It should be a great Saturday night atmosphere. I know our kids have to have a great week of preparation just like last week.”

Marshall (3-4, 2-1) had a great game last Saturday with a 59-24 rout of Southern Miss.

Central Florida is 5-2 and 3-0 in the conference. They beat Southern Miss two weeks ago 38-31 in two overtimes. Their losses are 21-16 at Missouri and 31-16 at Ohio State.

UCF quarterback Blake Bortles is 144 of 217 for 1,598 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has been intercepted five times.

Running back Storm Johnson had 95 attempts for 416 yards and four scores. Latavius Murray had rushed 57 times for 382 yards and five TDs.

J.J. Worton leads the receiving corps with 30 catches for 419 yards and two touchdowns. Rannell Hall, Quincy McDuffie and Jeff Godfrey all had 19 receptions.

Defensively, Troy Davis leads the team with four sacks and Thomas Niles had three. Kemal Ishmael has 59 tackles, Terrance Plummer 58 and Clayton Geathers 52.

“I’m surprised, but they’re still the number one defense in our conference. I’ll tell you that. Tulsa was initially and now it’s UCF with their scoring defense,” said Holliday.

“They’re number one in just about every category. They’re very physical and play extremely hard. Hopefully, we’ll be able to balance things out, but they’re an excellent defense.”

The Herd has been trying to mess its running game with the passing of quarterback Rakeem Cato. Marshall has a three-headed running game that features Steward Butler, Remi Watson and Kevin Grooms.

“Number one, they’re all talented. I knew they were all talented. You just never know, as a coach, how freshmen are going to react,” said Holliday.

“Similar to Cato, the arenas don’t seem to affect those three guys. They love to play. You put them in any arena and they are going to compete. They love to compete and love football. Right now, it’s a great situation to have an it has to get better.”