Gary Fauber covers Marshall Football for the Beckley Register-Herald. We go back a ways as I mentioned earlier. Gary was kind enough to field a few questions for the Mountainlair concerning the 2006 Marshall University Football Team.
Mt. Lair- Marshall is returning 48 lettermen, and 19 starters. The first
assumption would be that this will be the same team we saw last year as
far as personnel. But, what if any positions do you consider to be up
for grabs that might surprise us? And would you mind to go into a
little detail about the players vying for these positions.
GF-Well, at Marshall everything always starts at quarterback. Bernie
Morris and Jimmy Skinner split time there last year, and neither seemed
to lay claim to the throne in the spring. There will be a battle there
in August, but I believe Morris will be the starter when the Herd visits
Morgantown Sept. 2.
Both need to show a lot of improvement, but Morris gives the offense
a little more dimension with his mobility. The tight end spot is
open with the graduation of 2005 starter Jeff Mullins. Sophomores
Matt Parkhurst and Joe Bragg (a Morgantown native)are vying to fill
the position, but don't be surprised if JUCO transfer Cody Slate
makes a push. He seemed to have pretty good hands during spring ball.
Defensively, the secondary has some holes to fill. Strong safety
Curtis Keyes third on team in tackles in 2005 with 88) is the only
returning starter, although Geremy Rodamer (another Morgantown native)
had a good 2005 season as a part-time starter at both strong and
free safety. J.J. Johnson, who made quite an impression on coach
Mark Snyder last year as a true freshman, should step into a starting
Mt. Lair- Marshall was 4-7 last year, but many of those losses were
by single digits, and the team could have easily been 7-4 with a few
bounces going their way. Any thoughts on what they will do to turn
those close losses into wins for the 2006 season?
GF-You could also look at that the other way. Marshall
could have been 2-9 or even 1-10. They beat UAB 20-19
after the Blazers missed a field goal as time expired,
and Tulane led 20-7 at halftime before Bernie Morris
led a second half charge for a 27-26 win. The Herd also
trailed SMU 10-0 in the fourth quarter before tying it
and sending the game into OT, where Marshall won 16-13.
I think much of the problem was that the team was so young.
Plus, the lack of a dependable field goal kicker really
hurt. Ian OConnor had a rough season, particularly in
the loss against Southern Miss when he was replaced by true
freshman David Defatta. Defatta then had a field goal try
blocked at the end of regulation and had another hit the
upright in overtime. Anthony Binswanger, a transfer from
Diablo Valley Community College (originally with the
University of California), seemed to win the job in spring
ball. If he comes out of camp as the No. 1 guy, time will
tell how he fares in game situations.
Another thing that needs to be remembered is, not only was
last season Mark Snyder's first as head coach, but he was
hired only two days before the 2005 spring game. So the
entire season truly was a learning experience, top to bottom.
Mt. Lair-Ahmad Bradshaw is clearly the star of the offense,
but who would you consider to be the diamonds in the rough?
I know Marshall has a couple of speedy young receivers.
Will one of them step up this year to provide another weapon
for defenses to prepare for?
GF-I think Bernie Morris will step up and surprise a lot of
people at quarterback this year. And Hiram Moore, to me,
showed signs of becoming a go-to receiver last year. Of
course, transfers Darius Passmore (appropriately named for
a receiver) and Josh Johnson (linebacker) come in with
Mt. Lair-Defensively, Marshall has a couple dump trucks
on the D-line. I believe they average about 320lbs. If
you wouldn't mind going into a little detail about these
two, and if they are every down players, or if they
come out on 3rd down and pass situations.
GF-Dump trucks is a good way to describe these two. You
are referring to senior tackles Juan Underwood (6-3, 323)
and Chris Terrell (6-6, 326). Underwood, who came in last
year from Pima Community College, started nine of Marshalls
11 games. He is more of a pass rusher than Terrell, who is
more apt as a run stopper. Terrell was a backup, rotating in for
Underwood and senior Adrian Davis (6-3, 263).
Mt. Lair-This is sort of a follow up to the last question.
Does Marshall like to substitute a lot of players on
defense? If so, how do you think they will deal with WVU's
no huddle offense? I am expecting the pace of the offense
for WVU to quicken from last years team, and I believe they
will force defenses to keep players on the field that
wouldn't normally be there in certain situations.
GF-Yes, Marshall does a lot of subbing in and out on
defense. I'm not sure how that will be affected by the
no-huddle. My guess is that any team might have trouble
against the no-huddle in the first game of the season
simply because of conditioning. WVU could certainly have
a huge advantage there.
Mt. Lair-WVU has several players that will be asked to
step up on defense this year. For instance Quintin Andrews
at safety is getting a lot of praise for someone that has
never started a college game. Are there any defensive
players for Marshall that are receiving similar expectations?
GF-I mentioned Josh Johnson earlier. He is a 6-foot-2,
235-pound linebacker who played at Georgia Military College
last year. He had originally signed with the University of
Georgia before going to military school. He has been clocked
at 4.56 in the 40. He will feel some immediate pressure
because Herd fans really seem to expect a lot from him.
A ton of thanks to Gary for taking the time give us his thoughts on the 2006 Marshall Football Team!