The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Breaking News

College Sports

November 4, 2013

Cato’s leadership skills coming through for Herd

Marshall QB given freedom to check plays off

Marshall coach Doc Holliday has talked many times about how much quarterback Rakeem Cato has matured.

Yes, Cato’s play has improved exponentially, and his ability to run away from trouble and extend plays has added another dimension to his game. But the improvement between his ears and in his heart also stands out.

During a timeout in the middle of Marshall’s 61-13 thrashing of Southern Miss last Saturday, members of the 1998 Mid-American Conference championship team were recognized not only for their conference title but also for beating Louisville in the Motor City Bowl, the first bowl win in team history.

The entire offense on this season’s version of the Thundering Herd lined up and shook the hands of those who were able to attend.

And leading the way was Cato.

“It was my idea,” Cato said. “Those guys are an inspiration. Great guys, great role models, great leaders. Not only as football players, but as great men. Some of them had their kids in front of them and stuff like that. Those are the type of leaders you want to surround yourself with.”

Holliday spoke first in the postgame press conference and said he wasn’t sure if the gesture was Cato’s idea, but it would not have surprised him.

“Probably. It sounds like something he would do,” Holliday said.

The coaching staff’s faith in Cato was evident in practice early last week when the junior from Miami was given the green light to check out of plays. That freedom came in handy against the Golden Eagles, particularly on an 18-yard touchdown run by Essray Taliaferro that gave Marshall a 42-10 lead in the third quarter.

It was supposed to be a pass play on first-and-10, but when Cato saw a Cover-2, he checked off and Taliaferro ran right through the middle of the line for his sixth TD of the season.

“(Offensive coordinator Bill) Legg, even before we played Southern Miss, gave me a lot more freedom to (when) I see things, check it off,” Cato said. “The O-line did a great job and Tally hit the hole right. When I checked it off, it just connected and Tally made a great run and a score.”

“They gave him the freedom earlier in the week to check anything he sees,” said Tommy Shuler, who had 10 receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns. “He went out there and made great checks. We just worried about getting the first down.”

Cato was 21 of 28 for 262 yards and five touchdowns in less than three quarters of action. He tied Chad Pennington’s school record of consecutive games with a touchdown pass to 26, which is one behind Fresno State’s Derek Carr for the longest active streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

He has 72 career TD passes, passing Michael Payton for third in team history. Pennington is first with 115 and Byron Leftwich second with 89.

“With the exception of the one turnover he had (a fumble in the first quarter), I thought he played well,” Holliday said. “I think we were 300-plus rushing (304 yards) and 300-plus passing (332 with backup Blake Frohnapfel’s 70). That balance, I believe, helped us. A lot of that was on him. He made some great checks. We had some calls that were actually (supposed to be) throws, but he checked to runs. A lot of the run-pass options he did a great job of getting us into the right call. He managed the game extremely well.”

Among the players from the 1998 team on hand was Pennington, one of the greats from Marshall’s quarterback past. As Pennington did three times, Cato would like to lead the Herd to a conference title.

That was the basis for his leading the players in a show of respect to that landmark team.

“Cato and Chad are tight, and they do respect them,” Holliday said. “That team wants to do what that team did, and that’s go win a championship. So those guys have great respect for those guys because they’ve done it and they were wearing the same uniforms that they are wearing. They’ve got great respect for that group and so do I.”

— E-mail: gfauber@

register-herald.com and follow on Twitter

@GaryFauber

1
Text Only
College Sports
  • Hamrick deserves praise for pursuit of D’Antoni

    Sometimes gambles don’t pay off, but some risks simply have to be taken.

    April 23, 2014

  • WVU post-spring depth chart filled with few surprises

    Although the contents brought about as much of a surprise as a over the hill balloon at a 40th birthday party, there were a few interesting nuggets in the post-spring depth chart that West Virginia University sent out Wednesday morning.

    April 23, 2014

  • Clutch hitting leads WVU over Marshall

    Junior catcher Cam O’Brien finished  a home run away from the cycle and scored three runs as the WVU baseball team defeated Marshall, 10-3, on Wednesday evening at Hawley Field.

    April 23, 2014

  • Gardner improving with broken neck

    Joedy Gardner, a well-known former West Virginia basketball player and coach, is much improved after having broken his neck in Phoenix, Ariz., several months ago.

    April 23, 2014

  • 042314 trickett Mountaineers have benefited from incoming football transfers

    Recruiting in college football seems to get more and more attention every season. Websites like Scout.com and Rivals.com stalk the high school sidelines and blow up potential recruits’ cell phones in search of the latest information. But there’s one important aspect that often goes ignored — transfers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • WVU baseball pounds Terps

    The offense had 16 hits and sophomore left-hander Ross Vance struck out six as the West Virginia University baseball team routed Maryland 14-2 on Tuesday evening at Hawley Field.

    April 22, 2014

  • Crutchfield not interested in Division I job

    You would think Jim Crutchfield would be a great candidate for a head basketball coach’s job at an NCAA Division I university.
    But the Clarksburg native keeps saying that he’s perfectly content in that role at West Liberty, a Division II powerhouse. His 10-year record there is an absolutely amazing 272-49. Significantly, 10 of those defeats came in his first year at the West Liberty helm.

    April 22, 2014

  • Stepping up: Kelly racking up wins for Lions

    Sundays have become red-letter days for Chris Kelly.

    April 22, 2014

  • Paul Popovich, now 73, wishes he were playing baseball today

    If you’re a longtime baseball fan, you may recall Morgantown’s Paul Popovich.

    April 22, 2014

  • Hiring an interim while waiting on D’Antoni would be an injustice

    The search for Marshall’s new men’s basketball coach remained in a holding pattern over the Easter weekend while the Los Angeles Lakers put off their decision on coach Mike D’Antoni’s future until this week.

    April 21, 2014

AP Video