Aug. 4, 2008
ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) -UCF will look to continue its recent run of success against Conference USA East division rival Marshall on Nov. 15 at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The Knights will try to capture their fourth straight win against the Thundering Herd. During the three-game winning streak, the Knights have outscored the Herd, 93-48.
In last year's homecoming game victory, the Knights beat Marshall 47-13 at Bright House Networks Stadium. UCF running back Kevin Smith scored on the opening possession of the game as the Knights took an early 7-0 lead and never looked back. They captured a 27-3 halftime lead with contributions from Smith, who finished with 188 rushing yards with two touchdowns, and quarterback Kyle Israel, who accumulated 203 passing yards with two touchdowns.
The surprise contributors in the victory were both freshmen. Wide receiver Brian Watters emerged with two touchdowns on six receptions for 88 yards and defensive back Darin Baldwin added to the rout with an interception return for a touchdown.
Marshall returns 45 letterwinners from last year's squad, including eight starters on the offensive end. The main point of focus on the offensive side of the ball is determining who the new starting quarterback will be. Although a starter has yet to be named, it seems that it has become a one man race. Redshirt freshman Mark Cann turned in a strong performance in the spring game, completing 16 of 21 passes for 181 yards. He also rushed for a touchdown and led his team to six scores in seven possessions.
Other starting hopefuls, junior Jonathan Garner and sophomore Brian Anderson, both threw an interception in the spring game, but do provide more experience than Cann does. Anderson appeared in five games last season, completing a total of 12 passes for 94 yards, while Garner sat out the 2007 campaign after transferring from Georgia Tech.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Thundering Herd are hoping that shifting players around and having players return from injuries will help improve the group from last season's disappointing 3-9 campaign. Defensive end Albert McClellan sat out most of the spring after missing last season with a torn ACL. McClellan, the C-USA Defensive Player of the Year in 2006, did some light work this spring and appears to be on schedule for the summer. In 2006, McClellan had 77 tackles, ranked sixth in the NCAA in tackles for loss, seventh in sacks and tied for 10th in forced fumbles.
In an effort to upgrade the speed on defense, Marshall shifted Phillip Gamble from safety to weakside linebacker this spring. Gamble added explosiveness to the unit during the spring game and looks to be in contention for the starting spot. The Knights are coming off of a breakout season as they went 10-4, won the C-USA Championship and played in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in 2007.
Season tickets for the 2008 UCF football campaign are currently available. To order season tickets, or to learn more about attending games at Bright House Networks Stadium, call 407-UCF-1000. The Knights are scheduled to play six home contests this year.
For the latest news on the Knights, log on to www.UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit www.UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.