DB Curtis Keyes

2004 Statistics

Coach: Mark Snyder
1st year
2004 Record: 6-6
at Ohio State LOST 21-24
at Georgia LOST 3-13
at Ohio WON 16-13
at Kent State WON 27-17
UCF WON 20-3
at Akron LOST 28-31
at Bowling Green LOST 35-56
vs. Cincinnati LOST 14-32

2004 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2005 Outlook

The winds of change are again blowing strong in Huntington. No longer will Marshall be the bully of the Mid-American Conference, where it won five titles in eight years (of being a Division I-A team). And, no longer will Bob Pruett, the school's all-time winningest coach, be roaming the sidelines.

Marshall moves into Conference USA (where it is 4-1 all-time), and will do it under the direction of new coach Mark Snyder, a former member of this Herd. Snyder, the defensive coordinator at Ohio State in '04, won't change schemes (4-3), mainly since he wasn't hired until April 14 - two days before the end of spring practice. He does hope to win a little more than the Herd did in going 6-6 last campaign, but such results remain to be proven/seen. With the holes they have, it won't be til midseason that any flow will answer the uncertainties.

Offensively, the Herd has a different look in that the ground game takes center stage until the QB situation clears. Breaking in Jimmy Skinner and a stable of new receivers won't be easy, but the talent is there for Marshall to again have an underdog passing attack which suddenly flies and burns unprepared foes.

The defense has to replace its entire front seven, but a great secondary and a host of talented, speedy players will make any fall from grace a short and painless one. Adjustments in the season's first half will equal a much-improved unit by sometime in October that will sneak up on those who think the initial results are the team's entire capability.

KSU and VT as non-con foes means Marshall has to go at least 5-3 in conference to qualify for a bowl. No problem. The only thing that keeps the Herd out of the conference's first title game (which is December 3rd at the site of the team with the highest conference winning percentage) is a date with Southern Miss. While that game is at home, Southern Miss is tough and will likely relegate the Herd to second place in the division half. Still, the Herd will notch their 22nd straight non-losing season and qualify for yet another bowl. The winds of change are blowing, but good things stay the same at Joan C. Edwards (stadium).

Projected 2005 record: 6-5
OT Toby Bullock
QB - 3 DL - 3
RB - 3 LB - 3
WR - 2.5 DB - 4
OL - 2.5 ..

Passing: Jimmy Skinner, 2-1-0, 4 yds., 0 TD

Rushing: Ahmad Bradshaw, 95 att., 462 yds., 3 TD

Receiving: Emanuel Spann, 27 rec., 233 yds., 0 TD

Scoring: Ian O'Connor, 14-19 FG, 31-33 PAT, 73 pts.

Punting: Ian O'Connor, 64 punts, 40.4 avg.

Kicking: Ian O'Connor, 14-19 FG, 31-33 PAT, 73 pts.

Tackles: Curtis Keyes, 108 tot., 58 solo

Sacks: Dennis Thornton, Floyd Wright - 1 each

Interceptions: Chris Royal, 6 for 103 yds., 1 TD

Kickoff Returns: Ahmad Bradshaw, 15 ret., 21.5 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Emanuel Spann, 17 ret., 11.2 avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Josh Davis-WR, Brad Bates-WR, Nate Griffin-OT, Jessie Saito-C, Zac Elcess-OG, Joe Deifel-TE, Stan Hill-QB, Graham Gochneaur-QB, Earl Charles-RB
DEFENSE: Johnathan Goddard-DE, Reggie Hayes-DT, Jamaal Whyce-DT, Jamus Martin-DE, J.T. Rembert-SLB, Kevin Atkins-MLB, Dionte' Wilson-WLB, Roberto Terrell-CB, Renaldo Williams-DB

Regardless of its recent past, Marshall is concerned with simply producing a reliable starter at this point. Jimmy Skinner and Bernard Morris are in a tight battle for the starting spot. Skinner has the post-spring edge, and he'll take the job into the fall. He added some solid weight in the offseason and put his strength on display in the spring. Morris is the better all-around athlete, even lining up at receiver (in '04). Nobody is talking NFL about either player, but their competition will push them to be better. Expect another good year from a Marshall QB.

Running Back
This is the strength of the offense. Coming out of high school, Ahmad Bradshaw signed with Virginia to play DB. He got out of his scholarship just before the 2004 season, walked-on here, and became an instant hit, displaying his versatility as a runner and receiver. He's physical, but his main weapon is his speed. He can score from anywhere on the field. Gerwin Williams will see plenty of time, as well. Like Bradshaw, he has good speed, but Williams will be the Herd's power back and will get plenty of carries between the tackles. Together, they form the best RB duo Marshall has had in a while.

Graduation decimated this corps, and then, in March, the top returning WR, Emmanuel Spann, tore his ACL during a voluntary workout. That leaves the door open for a pair of former RB prospects to take over. Marcus Fitzgerald (younger brother of Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald) has entire package and should emerge as the go-to guy. The intriguing player in the mix is Chubb Small. Once a highly rated running back prospect, he's made the switch to receiver, where his speed (4.32 in the 40) will more than make up for his lack of height.

Tight End
Jeff Mullins will get the start, as he possesses great physical skills and has impressed coaches with his leadership. Brian Shope will battle for time and is the Herd's best blocking end. But for years to come, the best of the bunch will be redshirt-freshman Matt Parkhurst, who has both strong footwork and route-running skills, as well as the best hands in the group.

Offensive Line
Just two starters are back, but there still is a load of experience. Right guard Toby Bullock has started for two years, and although he's recovering from a torn pectoral muscle, he'll be back in the fall. A mountain of a man, Bullock has actually lost about 25 pounds, (quicker), and he could be moved to tackle. Right tackle Seth Cook is the other returning starter, and could be all-conference. The other three starters - Doug Legursky, Ryan Baynes and John Inman - give the Herd five 300-plus pounders in the starting lineup. All five are athletic linemen who will make Bradshaw and Williams look even better.

For years, the Herd has relied on a lethal passing game. Now, they've got a formidable running game to lean on as their passers come of age. Bradshaw and Williams will form a one-two punch expected to be the meat of any offensive thrust until the skies are secured. Jimmy Skinner will be fine at quarterback once he shakes Bernard Morris' challenge, but the hard part will be finding someone. Fitzgerald and Small are both excellent prospects, and they will become good options for Skinner. The Herd had a poor year on offense in 2004 (ranked 97th in yards per game, 70th in scoring), but the turnover will do them right, as new blood usually means such.


RB Ahmad Bradshaw


Returning Starters/
Key Players/Injured
QB Jimmy Skinner-Jr Bernard Morris-So
Derek Devine-Jr
RB Ahmad Bradshaw-So Gerwin Williams-Fr
WR Wilbur Hargrove-Sr Hiram Moore-Jr
Emanuel Spann-So
WR Marcus Fitzgerald-So Chubb Small-Fr
WR Shawn Lauzon-So Nate Manns-Sr
TE Jeff Mullins-Sr Brian Shope-So
OT Toby Bullock-Sr Chris Barnes-Jr
OG Ryan Baynes-Sr Matt Altobello-So
C Doug Legursky-So Nate Howard-So
OG John Inman-So David Ziegler-So
OT Seth Cook-Jr Wesley Jones-Jr
K Ian O'Connor-Jr Marty Biagi-Fr



Defensive Line
The entire line from 2004 must be replaced, and while there will be a dropoff from a unit that featured several three-year starters, the Herd has talent here. Demarcus Thomas isn't big, but he's fast and was an impressive pass-rusher in the spring. Blake Merritt, their top scout team defender in 2004, has split his time between tackle and end, but he'll settle in at tackle, where he'll be the rock of the interior. He has decent speed (4.70 in the 40) and is staunch against the run. There will be battles for playing time from several, but the common denominator is speed. The unit has too much rebuilding to do to be a consistent strength, but they will flash the qualities that will make them an even better group in campaigns to come.

Like the line, they start from scratch here, too. MLB Matt Couch will be the big-play man after a solid backup performance. He's got leadership skills to go with his physical, intense nature. Travis Noel is a former safety whose quickness will make him a reliable from his outside spot, while Dennis Thornton has a good mix of ability and instinct. The Herd will also get a big effort out of Brandon Souder, a JUCO-transfer. Again, the group is potentially strong, but untested and ungelled - ergo, the entire front seven is suspect until proven worthy.

Defensive Back
There's no lack of experience here. In fact, this is one of the best secondaries in C-USA. Strong safety Curtis Keyes is a punishing hitter who led the team in tackles. Free safety Chris Royal's six INTs (T-4th in I-A) were predicated upon his exceptional speed. A third returning starter is cornerback Willie Smith, who is also solid as a cover guy. The other corner spot was expected to go to speedster Chris Hawkins, a transfer from North Carolina, but Ivan Clark was so much better in the spring that the two find themselves in a heated battle, with the loser becoming their nickel-back and securing the coverage in three-WR sets. This will be a unit worthy of praise by year's end.

A year ago, the Herd was among the national leaders against the run (19th) and in total defense (32nd). Replacing the entire front seven is a huge task. There are capable players ready to step in, but they'll allow more than 11 ground scores and a three-ypc average. The secondary ranked 72nd against the pass, but their better finish in efficiency ratings (53rd) means they already know how to keep the play in front of themselves. The DBs can tighten down even further once the run-stoppers are established, so look to see how long this takes to signal the team's flow and therefore their overall chances. The strength will shift from the run to the pass stoppers, but, by the end, the Thundering Herd will have a balance here.


DB Chris Royal


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Byron Tinker-So Bilal El-Amin-Fr
DT Adrian Davis-Jr Blake Merritt-Fr
DT Floyd Wright-Sr ..
DE Jason Kaminski-Sr DeMarcus Thomas-Sr
SLB Ian Hoskins-Fr Donte' Newsome-Sr
MLB Matt Couch-Jr Brandon Souder-Jr
WLB Dennis Thornton-Sr Scott Wilks-Sr
CB Willie Smith-Sr Terrick Thomas-So
CB Chris Hawkins-Sr Ivan Clark-Jr
SS Curtis Keyes-Jr Jon Moravec-Fr
FS Chris Royal-Sr Geremy Rodamer-Jr
P Ian O'Connor-Jr ..




Herd fans are happy to see Ian O'Connor still on campus for another two years. He's one of the most reliable kickers in the country, and the Herd can count on him. He also handles the kickoff duties. The kick coverage will lull as the special teamers move into the two-deep, but shouldn't drop off too far.

O'Connor is also the punter, and does just as well in that role. He averages over 40 per try, and lands more than a quarter of his kicks inside the 20. Coverage here cannot wane, for they cannot afford to lose field position battles with the new QB(s). Their mediocre net results demand such.

Return Game
Spann's injury did more than take away Marshall top receiver; it indirectly aided this unit by taking his dismal KR results. Spann can walk the walk on PRs, though, so his return is important. But, for now, those duties fall on Bradshaw, a proven man for both roles. Bradshaw led the team in KRs and will be the main man there again, with Wilbur Hargrove and Chris Royal also getting their chances.