By GARY FAUBER
for the Daily Telegraph
Marshall has 39 Florida natives on its roster, so Saturday’s trip to Boca Raton — the hometown of Thundering Herd freshman quarterback Kevin Anderson — to take on Florida Atlantic is one they have had pegged for some time.
As if Marshall needed more reason to get up for its first Conference USA road game of the year.
“They are probably excited,” FAU coach Carl Pelini said. “It seems like they will have a large contingent here supporting them. A lot of our guys know them. We were watching films (Sunday) night and a number of our guys were saying, ‘I know him, and him,’ and, ‘I played with him.’ It will be a good game in that respect.”
The Owls will be the second of three straight C-USA newcomers to play the role of opponent for the Herd (3-2, 1-0), joining UTSA last week and Middle Tennessee on Thursday, Oct. 24. Saturday’s game will kick off at 5 p.m. and air on Fox College Sports.
FAU (2-4, 1-3) is in its 11th year of football, meaning Marshall’s last two opponents have a combined 14 years in the sport — UTSA, which the Herd beat 34-10 last Saturday, is in its third season of existence. The Owls accepted a bid to join the league last November.
Pelini, the older brother of Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini, is in his second season with the Owls, who were 3-9 in his debut. They won a C-USA game for the first time last Saturday, beating UAB 37-23 in Birmingham, Ala.
Quarterback Jaquez Johnson was named the league’s Player of the Week after accounting for 404 yards of total offense against the Blazers. The sophomore completed 23 of 36 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns, and also ran for a career-high 105 yards and a TD.
“Quez is maturing into a very efficient quarterback,” said Pelini, whose team has turned the ball over 12 times this season but had none against UAB. “He understands the offense. (He) understands what he is seeing out there defensively and gets us into the right things, makes good decisions.”
Pelini thought his team continued to make progress in the win over the Blazers.
“(We) did a lot of good things,” he said. “Again, not perfect. What really impressed me defensively was the effort. We didn’t play a perfect game, but we had 11 guys flying around and I was very proud of the recklessness which our guys played with.”
— E-mail: gfauber