Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

September 4, 2012

Marshall notebook: Cato kept calm

MORGANTOWN — The bell tolled often for Marshall during Saturday’s Friends of Coal Bowl at No. 11 West Virginia.

This time around, it meant nothing to quarterback Rakeem Cato.

The sophomore started his second season as the Thundering Herd’s starting quarterback in the same place as last year. The result wasn’t good for Marshall — a 69-34 loss in its final chance to beat the Mountaineers — but the Cato-led offense did not struggle.

Part of that is because Cato, who admitted in the preseason that making his debut in Morgantown “was a headache,” was better prepared to handle the pressure.

The dull chime of the bells heard at nearly every college football game in the country when the home team’s defense has its opponent in a third down situation didn’t intimidate Cato.

“I was (very) comfortable. Third down didn’t get to me anymore,” Cato said, smiling.

The numbers back up Cato’s calm demeanor after the game. He passed for a career-high 413 yards on 38 of 54 passing. He had two touchdown passes, to tight end Eric Frohnapfel and Tommy Shuler.

Cato and Shuler were high school teammates at Miami Central High.

“I thought he played well,” Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. “He had the interception where the ball was dropped, but overall he ran the offense well. He’s getting better as a quarterback and made some plays.”

Cato was responsible for both Herd turnovers that led to 14 WVU points. He fumbled after being stripped by Terence Garvin and Isaiah Bruce returned the loose ball 43 yards for a touchdown.

Doug Rigg intercepted a Cato pass early in the fourth quarter and returned it to the Marshall 3-yard line. Backup quarterback Paul Millard threw a touchdown pass to K.J. Myers on the next play.

Of the strip play, Cato said he was prepared to throw the ball away.

“I never felt it (coming),” he said. “I usually feel that type of thing coming. It was a good play.”

The Herd racked up 545 yards of offense, and 13 different receivers caught passes. That in itself is something for Marshall to build on.

“Coach just told us that we didn’t play our best and we still got over 500 yards of total offense,” Cato said. “That’s a plus on the offensive side of the ball. We just have to keep going and keep progressing every day at practice.”

• • •

One thing that wasn’t a positive, particularly in Holliday’s eyes, was a lack of tackling.

“Oh, not at all,” he said. “Our goal is to have single-digit missed tackles and it’s hard to tell how many we had. We probably (surpassed) that in the first quarter.”

There were bright spots, including the debuts of Boston College transfers Dominick LeGrande and Okechukwu Okoroha. LeGrande, the strong safety, had a team-high 13 tackles, while free safety Okoroha had five. Reserve defensive end Alex Bazzie stepped up with 11 tackles, while starter Jeremiah Taylor had the Herd’s only sack.

“Missed tackles are going to happen in a game,” LeGrande said. “We have to be better tacklers.”

• • •

Senior Aaron Dobson was preceded by his reputation as a big-play receiver, and he delivered with four catches for 72 yards. His last catch was a 40-yard over-the-shoulder grab in front of cornerback Brodrick Jenkins halfway through the second quarter.

Unfortunately, Dobson came down hard on his right hip and had to miss the rest of the game.

“My hip pointer was bothering me a little bit,” said Dobson, who had an ice bandage wrapped over his clothing during postgame interviews. “It was hard for me to run. That’s why I sat out the second half.

“I’ll be back. I’m going to do everything to get there. It just set me back a little bit (Saturday).”

• • •

The 69 points scored by WVU were not even close to being the most Marshall has ever allowed. In 1917, Denison put 94 points on the Herd.

The Mountaineers’ 655 yards of offense was the second-most allowed by Marshall since it joined the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1997. Tulsa rolled up 682 last season.

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