UCF-Numerous Injuries, Suspensions


Another Day, Another Dollar
Mar 1, 2002
I read that on Sportswire.com


Marshall (6-4) At U-C-F (3-7)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Florida Citrus Bowl (70,118) -- Orlando, Florida. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Marshall 3-1, UCF 3-0. Away Record: Marshall 3-3, UCF 0-7. Neutral Record: Marshall 0-0, UCF 0-0. Conference Record: Marshall 4-2, UCF 2-4. Series Record: Marshall leads, 1-0.

GAME NOTES: The Florida Citrus Bowl will be the site of Wednesday's Mid- American Conference tilt between the Thundering Herd of Marshall and the Golden Knights of UCF. The Herd come into the game off a disappointing 45-6 loss at Miami-Ohio which clinched the MAC East Division title for the RedHawks. Marshall, winner of five of the first six MAC championships, will not take part in the league's title game for first time since the conference moved to divisional play in 1997. Still, the Herd are bowl eligible and can earn a solid 8-4 overall mark and a 6-2 league ledger with wins against UCF and Ohio University to close out the year. As for UCF, its season has fallen apart and that led to the firing of head coach Mike Kruczek, who was last at the helm of a 19-13 setback to Eastern Michigan on November 8th. Alan Gooch takes over the head coaching duties on an interim basis and inherits a squad that is just 3-7 overall and 2-4 in the MAC. The Golden Knights have also lost two straight games and four of their last five overall. UCF has had a great deal of success at the Citrus Bowl this year, going 3-0, as opposed to a terrible 0-7 mark on the road. The Knights are 0-1 all-time versus Marshall after last season's 26-21 loss to the Herd on the road.

It was clearly the worst offensive effort of the season put forth by the Thundering Herd, as they managed just 239 total yards, while turning the ball over five times in an embarrassing 39-point setback to Miami-Ohio. Marshall failed to get much going in the game, and earned just 11 first downs in holding the ball for only 24 minutes. Graham Gochneaur, a reserve heading into the season, struggled under center in completing 14-of-25 passes for only 113 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. His main target was Josh Davis, who pulled down six balls for 48 yards. Earl Charles led the ground attack, which gained 126 yards, with 80 yards on 13 carries. For the year, Marshall has done a much better job on offense than it did against Miami. The team is averaging 30.1 ppg, which is a direct result of the 450.1 total ypg it's producing. Gochneaur has taken over the starting job for the injured Stan Hill, who is expected to miss the remainder of the season. Hill threw for 1,767 yards this season with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions, while Gochneaur has tossed just six scores against seven picks. Still, both players have completed just a shade under 70 percent of their passes. Darius Watts highlights a tremendous receiving corps, as he has made 68 grabs for 871 yards and 10 touchdowns. Davis has been impressive as well with 57 catches for 758 yards and six scores. As for the tailbacks, Charles has earned 823 yards and 11 scores, while Franklin Wallace has posted 559 yards and four touchdowns.

Defensively, Marshall was no match for Miami's high-powered offense, which rolled up 212 yards on the ground and 282 yards through the air in scoring six touchdowns. The Herd also failed to record a turnover while allowing the RedHawks to convert a decent 7-of-15 third downs. Kevin Atkins led the defense with nine tackles, followed by Robert Terrell's eight stops. Opponents are scoring 27.1 ppg against Marshall this season, and the defense is allowing 363.5 total ypg. Of the 32 touchdowns that the MU defense has surrendered, 17 have come on the ground. Opposing ball carriers are gaining 4.2 ypc on the ground, and quarterbacks have been picked off only seven times in 280 attempts. Atkins has been a key player for the Herd, as he has made 91 total tackles to pace the squad. As for Jonathan Goddard, he has made 15 stops behind the line of scrimmage and has a team-high 4.5 sacks.

It was just a poor offensive showing, as UCF managed only 181 total yards, including a dismal 46 through the air in a six-point setback to Eastern Michigan. The squad also turned the ball over three times and converted just 3-of-13 third-down tries. Steven Moffett had a rough game under center in his first start of the season, completing just 7-of-18 passes for 46 yards with an interception. Alex Haynes paced the ground attack with 102 yards on 27 carries. On the year, UCF has struggled offensively and is producing just 19.6 ppg and 329.0 total ypg. Things don't look to get any better for Knights, as starting quarterback Ryan Schneider has been suspended for the rest of the season. Schneider had been averaging 278.4 passing ypg with a completion rate of just under 70 percent. He is the only player on the team that has a thrown a touchdown (13), but he was also picked off 15 times. Tavaris Capers had benefited from the potent air attack under Schneider, with 65 catches for 548 yards and seven scores, but his numbers have suffered recently. Haynes leads the UCF effort on the ground with 738 yards and five scores.

On the defensive side of the ball, UCF did a respectable job in limiting EMU to just 268 yards, including only 116 through the air. The unit also held the Eagles to only 4-of-15 third-down conversions and just 13 total first downs in the game. However, they were only able to record two turnovers and collect a single sack. Peter Sands led the team with nine tackles, while Antoine Poe added seven stops and an interception. Opponents are putting up 29.6 ppg versus UCF this season, with 21 of the 38 touchdowns allowed by the Knights coming on the ground. The unit has also struggled to produce turnovers, with just 10 thus far, including a meager three interceptions. Poe leads the team with 101 tackles, two sacks and two picks. Atari Bigby has also had a decent season with 100 tackles and five TFLs.

Wednesday's game will feature two teams with inexperienced signal-callers trying to lead once-explosive offenses. Marshall has had more success with its backups, while UCF has struggled dearly without Schneider at the helm. Although the Golden Knights are undefeated at home this season, they have had little to no success of late, and with a new head coach and several players serving suspensions, it's likely to be a round end to what has been a forgettable season.

Predicted Outcome

Marshall 35, UCF 17


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