It was a catch that got its share of replays last year, a backhanded touchdown grab by Marshall’s Aaron Dobson between two East Carolina defenders.
Dobson’s athleticism isn’t lost on No. 11 West Virginia. When the Mountaineers face Marshall on Saturday, they must find a way to keep the senior wide receiver from doing similar things to them.
“It was a great catch, one of the greatest catches I’ve ever seen,” said West Virginia safety Darwin Cook.
Cook is known for his own touchdown highlight, a 99-yard fumble return in the Orange Bowl against Clemson in January.
“I was thinking, ‘Hey, this guy might think his play is better than mine,”’ Cook said. “So I’ve got to prove him wrong when we get out there on that field.”
Dobson’s grab was one of 12 touchdowns he scored a year ago, when he caught 49 passes for 668 yards.
He was mostly quiet against the Mountaineers, but in 2010, West Virginia got caught in man-to-man defense and Dobson scored on a 96-yard pass play.
“I want to make a statement,” Dobson said. “I’m going to get the opportunities again this year. And I’m going to try to make the best of them.”
He’ll have to do it against a defense that has undergone several changes. West Virginia debuts a different scheme this season along with several new assistant coaches.
“He’s a special player, there’s no doubt,” said Joe DeForest, West Virginia’s new defensive coordinator. “He’s got the ability to hurt you. But there are also other guys they go to. They’ve got a great group of receivers and they’re very, very dangerous on offense.”
Preparing for Dobson isn’t too difficult, considering West Virginia has its own set of top threats in wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.
“We understand we are practicing against one of the more talented offenses in the country,” said West Virginia cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts. “And our unit, particularly the secondary, has really embraced the fact that we get the best look in practice in the country.”
Dobson graduated from South Charleston High and has many friends in Morgantown. There’s been plenty of talk back-and-forth about the Marshall-West Virginia game, which will be the last for some time. This is the final year in the seven-year contract between the schools. West Virginia has won every meeting.
“People say this isn’t a rivalry because we haven’t won,” Dobson said. “But in the end, everyone in the state loves seeing us play the game against each other.”