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Marshall-Kan. St. Game Gets QB Intrigue

September 19, 2003

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ There is quarterback intrigue for the Marshall-Kansas State game with questions lingering for both teams.

As far as backup Jeff Schwinn is concerned, he’s Kansas State’s starter until he hears otherwise.

Marshall coach Bob Pruett says he’s heard otherwise.

``My mindset is that I am starting, but right now it is still a question,″ Schwinn said. ``I’m going to prepare myself like I’m going to be starting and whatever happens, happens.″

Pruett, however, said he’s preparing his team to face first-stringer Ell Roberson when the Thundering Herd (1-2) visit the sixth-ranked Wildcats (4-0) on Saturday.

``We anticipate the quarterback from Kansas State to play. That’s the scuttlebutt we heard back from UMass,″ Pruett said. ``Their coaches thought he’d play this week. We’ve got to prepare like he’s going to play.″

Kansas State, however, has never said whether Roberson, who sat out last week’s 38-7 win over Massachusetts with an injured left wrist, will miss a second straight start.

On Tuesday, coach Bill Snyder _ who doesn’t discuss the specifics of injuries _ said Roberson was ``uncertain″ for Saturday’s game but was expected to start in the Wildcats’ Big 12 opener Oct. 4 at Texas.

Kansas State is idle next week.

Marshall has its own quarterback question.

Pruett, who on Monday said that starter Stan Hill would miss a second straight start with a sprained left knee, seemed to hedge a bit later in the week.

``He did move around a little bit at practice and threw some, but it’s going to have to be a significant improvement for him to play,″ Pruett said.

Hill, injured in the Herd’s 34-24 loss at No. 12 Tennessee on Sept. 6, also seemed to raise the possibility of an earlier-than-expected return.

``I think my knee’s holding up better than I thought it would,″ he said. ``I practiced and didn’t have any flaws and was able to do a lot more than I thought I could.″

If Hill cannot play, junior Graham Gochneaur will get the start against the Wildcats.

Last week, in his first start, Gochneaur completed 31 of 39 passes for 289 yards with two interceptions as Marshall opened its Mid-American Conference season with a 24-17 home loss to Toledo.

Against Tennessee, Gochneaur was 7-of-10 for 52 yards after Hill was injured in the third quarter.

``I’m a confident person, but going out and having a good game solidified myself and gives me no doubts,″ Gochneaur said. ``I’ve already been there, I’ve already done that and I’m confident I can do well.″

Snyder was impressed by Gochneaur’s numbers, too.

``I don’t like how well he throws the football and his completion percentage,″ Snyder said. ``He’s a talented young guy.″

Roberson has been off-limits to the media since he was hurt in the second quarter of the Wildcats’ 55-14 win over McNeese State on Sept. 6. He has thrown for 502 yards and five touchdowns and run for 256 yards and four TDs this season.

Schwinn was 17-of-26 for 228 yards and one touchdown and threw two interceptions in his first start against Massachusetts. He also ran for one score after replacing Roberson in the McNeese State game.

Even though Marshall ranks 102nd in rushing defense, giving up more than 202 yards a game and now faces Kansas State’s Darren Sproles, who has run for 477 yards and six touchdowns despite playing time limited by a thigh bruise in one game and lopsided scores in two more.

``In all seriousness, you’ve got to be able to balance things out,″ Snyder said. ``However many guys they can get on the field, we’ll see them right up there in a little covey around the football. So we’d better be able to throw it.″

And when Roberson is healthy again, Schwinn knows he’ll be back on the sidelines.

``There’s not much controversy there,″ he said with a smile. ``There’s just a question of whether or not Ell can go. I’m just trying to keep myself prepared.″

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