HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The last time Brian Anderson played against a team from the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA), he started for an injured Bernie Morris against New Hampshire. He completed 7 of 14 passes and threw an interception in the 2007 loss.
"Thats' behind us," Cody Slate said Monday. "We're a lot better now than we were then."
Slate, Anderson and the Thundering Herd will get another crack at an FCS school 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Marshall plays 7th-ranked Southern Illinois in their 2009 season opener.
No. 7 SIU has been ranked in the Top 20 of either the Coaches or Sports Network Polls 82 consecutive weeks. The Salukis have won their last seven season openers by an average of 43.1 points. Southern Illinois has won both games against Marshall in their series history (44-16 at Marshall in 1976, and 15-14 in Carbondale, Ill., in 1978).
The Herd will be without suspended running back Darius Marshall Saturday, due to "off-the-field" issues in the offseason. Redshirt freshman Martin Ward and sophomore Terrell Edwards are expected to share the load in the backfield.
Seniors Mario Harvey and Albert McClellan share preseason accolades on the Lombari Award Watch List. They anchor a Marshall defense expected to be the strong point of Mark Snyder's fifth season.
Herd players have high expectations of overturning four straight seasons without a bowl appearance under Snyder.
"Liberty Bowl. That's all I have to say: Liberty Bowl," Junior offensive lineman Chad Schoefield said. "We want to win the conference championship. That's what we're here to do."
"All the pressure falls on (Coach Snyder). It really comes down to us performing. He gets the blame if we lose and the praise if we win," Slate said. "But, it comes down to us playing every week, so it's definitely on our shoulders, too."
The big storyline of the upcoming 2009 campaign will likely be how well Anderson can lead Marshall's offense, as the Herd tries to keep up with high-scoring Conference USA teams.
The last time Anderson played a college football game (Nov. 29, 2009, vs. Tulsa), he completed 14 of 19 passes for 177 yards and 3 touchdowns--a far cry from that performance against New Hampshire.
"I don't really like to look back at that game very much. It definitely wasn't one of my best performances," Anderson said Monday. "That wasn't me then, and hopefully it's not me now."
Marshall lost their final game of the 2008 season, 38-35, to Tulsa. Southern Illinois also ended '08 with a loss, 29-20... against New Hampshire.
HUNTINGTON - Marshall University will open the 2009 Football season at home on Saturday by hosting Southern Illinois. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
The first 10,000 fans at the game will receive Fan Key Cards that feature the 2009 Thundering Herd football schedule and a $1 off coupon for any combo meal at participating Wendy's locations to use throughout the season.
Marshall is also running two ticket promotions - Medical Appreciation Day and Labor Day. All medical professionals with a valid staff ID and labor union members with a valid staff or union identification card are eligible to purchase $15 end zone seats for Saturday’s game.
The Thundering Herd will face a talented and experienced football team on Saturday. The Salukis enter the season ranked seventh in the nation in the first NCAA FCS poll. SIU has made six-straight playoff appearances and has spent 82-straight weeks in the Top 20. SIU has posted 59 wins since 2003 (that figure ranks third in FCS behind only Montana with 66 and Appalachian State with 63.
Marshall features a veteran team of its own with eight starters back on both sides of the ball. Senior tight end Cody Slate ranks among the top players at his position in the country and needs only 88 receiving yards to become the top pass catching tight end in school history. The Thundering Herd defense also features two Rotary Lombardi Award candidates in senior defensive end Albert McClellan and junior linebacker Mario Harvey.
Fans can purchase tickets online at www.Herdzone.com or by calling 1-800-THE-HERD.
Marshall will also honor its 2009 Athletics Hall of Fame Class, pay tribute to former head coach Jim Donnan who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this summer and recognize its 2008-09 student athletes of the year during the contest.
Hall of Fame Day: Marshall will honor its 2009 Hall of Fame Class during Saturday’s game. This year’s class includes: Rogers Beckett (Football), Todd Donnan (Football), Dick Hunter (Football/Baseball), Dave Kline (Cross Country and Track), Tara Lee (Track & Field), Larry McCloud (Football), Rod O’Donnell (C.C. and Track Coach) and Andy Socha (Football).
Donnan’s On Campus Salute: Marshall and the National Football Foundation will also pay tribute to 2009 College Football Hall of Fame Inductee – Jim Donnan. Donnan led the Herd from 1990-1995, helping Marshall to its first national championship in 1992. Former MU Coach Jack Lengyel will represent the NFF as Donnan is presented with his Hall of Fame Plaque at Saturday’s game with Southern Illinois.
Student-Athlete of the Year Awards: Marshall will honor its 2008-09 Student-Athletes of the Year on Saturday. Men’s Basketball standout Markel Humphrey and Women’s Tennis star Kellie Schmidt are the Ed Starling Award and Dot Hicks Award winners for this past academic year.
Home Openers: Marshall is also 16-2 in home openers at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The Thundering Herd also owns a record of 11-1 against FCS (I-AA) since moving to the FBS (I-A) level in 1997. All of those games have been played in Huntington.
Southern Illinois and the Herd: Marshall and Southern Illinois have met twice and the Salukis own a 2-0 mark against the Herd. However, both of those meetings came in the late 1970’s. In their only previous visit to Huntington, Southern Illinois downed Marshall 44-16 at old Fairfield Stadium on Nov. 20 of 1976. Marshall visited Carbondale on Nov. 11, 1978 and came away with a 15-14 loss.
The NFL Connection: Marshall and Southern Illinois have an NFL connection. Both schools produced two running backs that currently play as teammates for the New York Giants – Ahmad Bradshaw (MU) and Brandon Jacobs (SIU). Both of them own a Super Bowl ring from the 2008 Super Bowl.