Sept. 18, 2005
ORLANDO - Two former Mid-American Conference foes meet on the gridiron for the first time as members of Conference USA when UCF hosts Marshall Saturday evening at the Florida Citrus Bowl. The inaugural C-USA contest for both schools is also UCF's home opener while the Thundering Herd hit the road for their first away game of 2005.
UCF (0-2) lost 31-14 to I-4 rival South Florida Saturday while Marshall was idle last week. The Thundering Herd lost a heartbreaker to Kansas State last time out Sept. 10 in Huntington, 21-19.
Saturday's contest is the first of five games for UCF on CSTV's All-Access Package. Live video of the game will be available at ucfathletics.com and via pay-per-view on Dish Network. The UCF ISP Sports Network begins pregame coverage at 4 p.m. with kickoff set for 6 p.m. The voice of the Golden Knights Marc Daniels will handle the play-by-play duties while Gary Parris provides color commentary and Jerry O'Neill patrols the sidelines. The radio broadcast is also available at ucfathletics.com.
Marshall leads the all-time series 3-0 after a 20-3 victory in Huntington last season.
This is the second time in four seasons UCF has played Marshall in its inaugural game in a conference. In 2002, UCF visited Marshall in its first-ever MAC game while Saturday's contest is the first C-USA game for both schools.
Steven Moffett scored on a career-long 55-yard touchdown run in 2003 vs. the Herd. It was the first career touchdown for Moffett.
Marshall head coach Mark Snyder coached for two seasons at UCF. Snyder was a graduate assistant coach in 1989 and a part-time linebackers coach for the Golden Knights in 1990. UCF went 17-7 during Snyder's two-year stint in Orlando.
For the first time since 2002, UCF had a wide receiver catch at least 10 passes in a game in the season opener at South Carolina. Senior wide receiver Brandon Marshall became the first Golden Knight since Doug Gabriel to record 10 receptions in a game. Gabriel caught 10 passes for 206 yards vs. Syracuse (Nov. 2, 2002).
Marshall hauled in a career-high 10 receptions for 102 yards vs. the Gamecocks.
UCF quarterback Steven Moffett is happy to have Mike Walker and Brandon Marshall back on offense. The two players spent part of 2004 in the UCF secondary, but both are back at wide receiver in 2005.
The duo both eclipsed the 100-yard mark in receiving yards in the season's first game at South Carolina.
Walker set career-highs in receptions (9) and receiving yards (105), including a 13-yard touchdown pass from Moffett. He is tied for 16th in the nation in receptions per game (7.0) and is 27th nationally in receiving yards per game (87.5).
Marshall established a personal-best with 10 catches for 102 yards. The Winter Park native is tied for 16th in the NCAA in receptions per game (7.0) and tied for 55th in receiving yards per game (70.5).
The last time two UCF players both went over the century mark in receiving yards in one game was Walker and Marshall vs. Florida Atlantic in 2003.
UCF In Home Openers
The Golden Knights are 18-8 all-time in home openers.
The Golden Knights have won four of their last five home openers at the Florida Citrus Bowl.
Home Sweet Home
UCF is 105-54-1 all-time at the Florida Citrus Bowl.
In 26 seasons, the Golden Knights have had only four losing seasons at the Citrus Bowl. Over the last five years, the Knights are 16-10 at home.
On This Date
UCF is 2-1 all-time on games played on September 24. The last time UCF played on this date, the Golden Knights defeated Western Kentucky 59-45 in 1994.
UCF is tied for fifth in the nation with just six senior starters entering the 2005 season. Only Rice (3) has fewer senior starters than the Golden Knights.
UCF had three true freshmen in its starting lineup, including OLB Cory Hogue.
UCF's starting offensive line at USF featured one true freshman, one redshirt freshman, two sophomores and a redshirt junior. In all, UCF's starting five offensive linemen had just 34 combined career starts.
Freshman cornerback Joe Burnett did not play like a rookie Saturday at South Florida. The Eustis product totaled four tackles - two for loss - and returned two punts for 77 yards.
Burnett's 60-yard punt return to the USF five-yard line set up UCF's first touchdown.
The Foundation Begins
George O'Leary and his coaching staff have begun to lay the groundwork for a strong foundation at UCF. The transformation has started in the classroom, where UCF has established several new academic records.
Over the summer, the football team posted a grade point average of 3.012. Eleven players earned a perfect 4.0 GPA over the summer while 66 percent of the team earned Athletic Director's Honor Roll status (3.0 GPA or higher).
The Golden Knights, who do not have a single player on academic probation, improved their overall cumulative team GPA to 2.810.
Fourth Quarter Quarterback
UCF quarterback Steven Moffett has saved some of his best football for the fourth quarter during his career. In 15 fourth quarters, Moffett is 75-for-125 passing for 757 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. He has completed 60% of his passes during the final quarter of play.
Horne Starts 2005 on Good Note
Junior punter Aaron Horne got off to a solid start in 2005 at South Carolina. The Miami native averaged just under 40 yards per punt, but he pinned the Gamecocks inside their own 20-yard line on three of his four punts.
At South Florida, Horne averaged 42.4 yards per punt (seven punts) and pinned the Bulls inside the 20-yard line twice.
On the season, Horne has averaged 41.4 yards per punt with five punts inside the 20.
Welcome to UCF
Seven true freshman made their collegiate debuts for UCF at South Carolina. Linebacker Cory Hogue was the only starter among the group at outside linebacker.
Ready for Action
UCF head coach George O'Leary has one of the nation's youngest teams in 2005. UCF's current depth chart features 23 freshmen or sophomores listed among the team's top 44 offensive and defensive players.
Nine true freshmen dot the depth chart, including three starters. True freshman Cory Hogue is the starter at weakside linebacker while Joe Burnett is the first team right cornerback and Patrick Brown is the team's starting left tackle.
UCF Depth Chart Breakdown (offense and defense)52% Freshmen or Sophomores (23/44)30% Freshmen20% True Freshmen
UCF had 50 players see the field at South Carolina. Nearly half (24) were either first or second-year players (true freshmen, redshirt freshmen or true sophomores).
Seven of UCF's 22 starters on offense and defense were made up of first or second-year student-athletes.
At USF, 19 of UCF's 42 players who earned playing time were first or second-year student-athletes. Eight of those 19 were starters, including three true freshmen.
One of the Nation's Youngest
UCF begins 2005 with one of the nation's youngest football teams. With just 10 seniors on scholarship, the Golden Knights have 54 freshmen or sophomores on their roster - making up 65 percent of the team - entering 2005.
In the Month of September
Since joining Division I-A in 1996, the Golden Knights are 10-29 in the month of September.
First Time for Everything
UCF faces four opponents for the first time in 2005. USF, Southern Miss, Houston and Rice are newcomers to the UCF schedule.
The Golden Knights are 5-10 vs. the remaining seven teams in 2005, including a perfect 2-0 record vs. Louisiana-Lafayette and UAB along with a 1-0 mark against Tulane.
From Coast to Coast
Freshman defensive end Clarence Howard is not your everyday freshman. The Virginia native has taken a different route to UCF from high school.
After graduation in 2001, Howard spent a year and a half with the U.S. Forest Service, traveling to Texas, California, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.
During his stint with the forest service, Howard was sent to Texas to help with the clean-up process from the Columbia Space Shuttle tragedy. In addition, he fought wild fires on the west coast in California and surrounding states.
Missing the game of football, Howard spent one semester at Milford Academy, where he played middle linebacker and defensive end.
After a semester at Milford, Howard enrolled at UCF in January and spent the spring practicing with the team.
Senior DE Paul Carrington blocked a USF field goal in the second quarter. The last UCF player to block a field goal in a game was Peter Sands vs. Marshall (Nov. 19, 2003).
A League of Pro-tential
Seven NFL starting quarterbacks on opening day hailed from Conference USA schools. That was more starting quarterbacks from C-USA than any other conference in the nation. The Big Ten and Pac-10 were next with five starting QB's each.
In addition, Tulane and Marshall were among only four I-A schools to have a pair of starting NFL QB's. Fresno State (David Carr of Houston and Trent Dilfer of Cleveland) and Michigan (Tom Brady of New England and Brian Griese of Tampa Bay) are the others.
Here is a list of seven former athletes that started on the opening weekend of the NFL season (Sept. 8-12) along with their former C-USA teams:
Daunte Culpepper, Minnesota (UCF)Brett Favre, Green Bay (Southern Miss)Gus Frerotte, Miami (Tulsa)Patrick Ramsey, Washington (Tulane)J.P. Losman, Buffalo (Tulane)Chad Pennington, New York Jets (Marshall)Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville (Marshall)
The Thundering Herd of Marshall University enter Saturday's game with a record of 1-1. The Herd topped Division I-AA member William & Mary 36-24 in their season opener before losing to BIG 12 foe Kansas State 21-19 in Huntington.
Marshall is one of five new schools in a realigned Conference USA along with UCF, SMU, UTEP and Tulsa.
Known for a high-powered passing offense with former standouts including New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington and Oakland Raiders All-Pro wide receiver Randy Moss, the 2005 edition of the Marshall passing offense ranks 18th in the nation.
Marshall averages 287.5 passing yards per game between two quarterbacks. Orlando native Bernard Morris and Jimmy Skinner rank 88th and 99th in the NCAA in total offense, respectively.
Marshall is 100th nationally in rushing offense (88.5 yards per game) and 57th in scoring offense (27.5).
Sophomore tailback Ahmad Bradshaw is one of C-USA's top tailbacks. The Virginia native averages 65 yards per game, but is eighth nationally in scoring and second in the C-USA ranks.
Defensively, Marshall is 51st in the NCAA in total defense (346.5 ypg). The Herd have been tough vs. the pass, allowing just 165 yards per game (25th nationally). On the ground, Marshall has yielded an average of 181.5 yards per game (84th in NCAA).
Marshall Head Coach Mark Snyder
Marshall University's football program welcomed home one of its own when Mark Snyder was introduced as the program's 28th head football coach on April 14, 2005. Snyder was a standout player from nearby Ironton High School that went on to star at Marshall in 1987. His record-setting play in 1987 helped Marshall lay the foundation for what has become one of the nation's winningest college football programs. Snyder then went on to a remarkably successful coaching career that has taken him to the highest levels of success in the collegiate football world. Now, his career has come full circle as he takes the helm of the Thundering Herd football program.
Snyder, who spent the past four years as an assistant coach under Jim Tressel at the Ohio State University, is coming off of his first season as the Buckeyes' defensive coordinator. In Snyder's four years at Ohio State, the Buckeyes posted a 40-11 overall record and tallied a 3-1 record in bowl games, including victories in the 2003 and 2004 Tostitos Fiesta Bowls.
Snyder helped develop a number of outstanding players at Ohio State, including All-Americans Matt Wilhelm, Cie Grant, and A.J. Hawk. Both Wilhelm and Grant played key roles in Ohio State's 2002 national championship before going on to become NFL draft picks. Last season, Hawk led OSU with 141 tackles en route to earning All-America status.