September 3, 2008

Inside Marshall: Offense

MADISON, Wis. - The Marshall Thundering Herd are fresh off a 35-10 victory over Illinois State University. In that game Marshall tallied nearly 400 yards of total offense, 229 of them coming on the ground. This Saturday, the Herd travels to Madison to take on the 1-0 Badgers who handedly defeated Akron 38-17 last Saturday.

The following is an inside look at Marshall's offense as they prepare for their visit to Camp Randall Stadium:

Quarterback: Mark Cann made his first collegiate start against ISU last weekend. In that contest, Cann completed 11 of 22 passes for 161 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Something worth watching Saturday is how the young quarterback will handle playing in a larger, more hostile environment than what he is used to.

Running Backs: Darius Marshall, last season's Conference USA freshman of the year returns for his second year as a starter. At 5-foot-10, Marshall packs a punch with a relatively small frame. Against ISU, he rushed for 115 yards on 20 attempts and scored a touchdown.

"I think just offensively, the thing that jumped out at me when I watched film, No. 5, their running back," UW head coach Bret Bielema said. "(He) is extremely talented and a guy that going into his second year now is seasoned and really has a good feel for the game."

Perhaps Marshall's best sized back is freshman Terrell Edwards, currently listed as No. 3 on their depth chart. Against Illinois State, he rushed for 48 yards on only two carries and also found the end zone.

Wide Receivers: Standing at 6-foot-3, Darius Passmore had a major impact in Marshall's opening game. He scored two touchdowns and racked up 111 yards receiver on only four catches.

A week ago, the Badgers dodged several bullets when Akron receivers dropped passes or were overthrown. Passmore, who reportedly ran a sub 4.3 40-yard dash in high school, could provide a deep threat against UW's young and inexperienced secondary.

"No. 1, Passmore, their wide receiver," Bielema said. "If you watch film or clips of him, is extremely fast."

Joining Passmore at the position will be Bryant Milligan and Emmanuel Spann. Milligan, who attended the same high school as UW receiver Kyle Jefferson, recorded two receptions for nine yards last Saturday.

Tight End: Arguably the Thundering Herds most talented offensive player, junior Cody Slate, returns after leading the entire team in receiving a season ago. Slate, who caught two balls for 22 yards in the opener, was also named First Team All-Conference USA a season ago. Look for him to be an early season test for the Badger linebackers.

Offensive Line: Up front, the Thundering Herd returns two starters on the offensive line. Left guard Josh Evans[db], also a first team All-Conference freshman a year ago joins senior [db]Brian Leggett who recently switched to center as the only returning starters.

At left tackle, Marshall will start redshirt freshman Ryan Tillman. On the right side of the line Matt Altobello will anchor the guard spot and redshirt freshman C.J. Wood will hold down the tackle position.

In total, Marshall's offensive line averages nearly 6-foot-3 and 290 pounds. It will be interesting to see how they are able to handle UW's smaller, more athletic defensive front.

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