The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

September 8, 2012

Marshall has plenty of offensive potential

In the face of a 35-point loss, Marshall learned a few things about its football team. Most notably, there is plenty of depth and plenty of offensive potential.

The Thundering Herd got contribution from three tight ends, 13 different receivers caught passes and five running backs carried the ball. That depth made for a big day on the offensive side of the ball in a 69-34 loss at West Virginia last week.

After facing a team with legitimate aspirations of a Big 12 championship, Marshall now must stay focused on a Western Carolina team that just wants to build on a season-opening win.

The Catamounts (1-0) visit Joan C. Edwards Stadium tonight for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The game will be televised on Fox College Sports.

Making its home debut, Marshall (0-1) could have quite the offense to impress anyone among the Herd faithful who did not make the trip to Morgantown. The Herd ran 104 plays against the Mountaineers and posted 28 first downs.

“The speed of the offense is what will help us (run more plays),” Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. “We were snapping the ball with 19 or 20 seconds left on the play clock.

“The other thing is being able to move the chains. If you’re able to sustain drives and get first downs, (that) allows you to keep snapping the ball. A combination of the speed of the offense and creating first downs are all positive things that have to continue.”

It helps when there are multiple players to maintain a fresh offense.

Sophomore Rakeem Cato threw for a career-high 413 yards, completing 38 of 54 passes to 13 receivers.

“From a defensive standpoint, it’s hard to stop a team when that many people touch the ball,” Holliday said.

A committee of backs ran for a total of 132 yards, led by redshirt freshman Kevin Grooms’ 43 yards on five carries. Redshirt sophomore Travon Van started and rushed for two touchdowns and 38 yards on 15 carries.

Also moving the ball were Remi Watson (6 for 17) and Steward Butler (10 for 14).

It was the play of tight ends Blake Frohnapfel, Gator Hoskins and C.J. Crawford that might have stood out more. Frohnapfel scored a late touchdown, Crawford had three catches for 48 yards and Hoskins two for 24.

“There’s no question that all three bring different things to the table,” Holliday said. “You have to take advantage of the strengths and Billy (tight ends coach Bill Legg) does a nice job at doing that. It’s nice to see all three of them in there getting reps. They’ve done a great job.”

Meanwhile, one of the big stories will center around how much Eddie Sullivan will play for the Catamounts. The former Marshall quarterback transferred last winter and was suspended for the opener.

In his place, true freshman Troy Mitchell ran for two scores and was named the Southern Conference Freshman of the Week after Western Carolina defeated Mars Hill 42-14 last Thursday.

“We told both of them Friday that we don’t have a quarterback controversy — we’ve got quarterback competition,” first-year Catamounts coach Mark Speir said. “We’re going to let them duke it out this week and whoever’s most productive will start. I foresee both of them playing and getting an opportunity to lead our team before we head into Southern Conference play and see which quarterback is most productive.”

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