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Marshall opponent preview: Western Carolina

n Date with Marshall: Saturday, Sept. 8, 6:30 p.m. (TV TBA)

  • Site: Joan C. Edwards Stadium (38,019, FieldTurf), Huntington
  • Series: Tied 9-9-2
  • Coach: Mark Speir (first year)
  • Checking them out

    Marshall fans from back in the Thundering Herd's Southern Conference days remember the Catamounts as a team that started the all-time series 8-0-2 from 1977 to 1986.

    These are not those Cats. There is a reason Speir is taking over after a nine-season stint at rival Appalachian State - an 11-56 record since 2006. Previous coach Dennis Wagner was 8-37 in four seasons before his exit.

    The Catamounts will have a fresh outlook and probably a win over Mars Hill when they come to Marshall, and they will have something else - a quarterback who knows Edwards Stadium well. Eddie Sullivan transferred out of the Herd program after being beaten out by Rakeem Cato and A.J. Graham and landed at Western Carolina.

    Sullivan went to the top of the depth chart in the spring. In the spring game, he went 17-of-27 for 207 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 54 yards and a pair of scores. How impressive that is can be debated - last year, the Catamounts gave up 45.6 points and 509.6 total yards per game.

    Opponents passed just 21 times per game because . . . well, they really didn't need to with 6.2 yards per rush.

    Deja Alexander (35 receptions, 459 yards, 1 TD) is the top offensive threat back. The defense's top two tacklers are back: LB Rock Williams (115 tackles, 6 for loss, 3 sacks) and DB Ace Clark (90 tackles).

    One challenge for Sullivan and Co.: take the load off a new punter. Last year, two punters swung their legs 67 times in 11 games.

    All-conference candidates

  • Offense: QB Eddie Sullivan, RB Shaun Warren
  • Defense: DB Ace Clark
  • Special teams: K Clark Sechrest, KR George Richardson
  • Notes

    The Catamounts have lost 17 in a row to Georgia Southern, seven to Appalachian State and seven to Samford (no, not Stanford). . . . New secondary coach Steve Sisa served two years as a graduate assistant at Southern Mississippi. . . . Offensive coordinator is Brad Glenn, who coached Walter Payton Award winner Armanti Edwards at Appy State.

    2012 schedule

    Date    Opponent    2011

    Aug. 30    Mars Hill (Thur.)    W, 52-31

    Sept. 8    at Marshall    DNP

    Sept. 15    at Wofford*    L, 24-42    

    Sept. 22    Samford*    L, 24-52

    Sept. 29    at Furman*    L, 21-47

    Oct. 6    Ga. Southern*    L, 20-52

    Oct. 13    at The Citadel*    DNP

    Oct. 20    at Elon    L, 31-38

    Oct. 27    Appalachian St.    L, 14-46

    Nov. 3    Chattanooga    L, 7-51

    Nov. 17    at Alabama    DNP

    *Southern Conference games

  • 2011 record: 1-10, 0-8 Southern (9th)
  • Dropped: Georgia Tech (L, 21-63), Coastal Carolina (L, 21-45)

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