The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

September 6, 2012

Thundering Herd taking Western Carolina seriously

Youngstown State was looking for a paycheck, probably not realistically expecting a win. But the Penguins waddled out of the Steel City not only $400,000 richer, but also with an upset win over Pitt.

Marshall coach Doc Holliday doesn’t want a similar thing happening Saturday night in Huntington, when the Thundering Herd host Western Carolina at 7 p.m.

The Catamounts (1-0) are a Football Championship Subdivision team, although their history isn’t lined with recent success like Youngstown. Western Carolina was 1-10 last season and has not played in the FCS playoffs since 1983.

Still, Holliday has cautioned his team about taking the Catamounts lightly. This has all the makings of the dreaded “trap game,” falling between the game against West Virginia and next week’s battle with rival Ohio.

Holliday wants to make sure his players don’t fall for it.

“The important thing our coaches and players have to understand is that we have to prepare to play every week or you’re going to get beat,” he said. “There are a couple of examples of that last week — Pitt was upset by Youngstown State, Houston beat by Texas State and Memphis losing to Tennessee-Martin. We have Western Carolina coming in that we have to prepare to play. I know our guys are anxious to get back on the field and get better.”

The Catamounts are coming off a 42-14 win over Mars Hill in their season opener. Freshman quarterback Troy Mitchell was named Southern Conference Freshman of the Week after rushing for two touchdowns and completing 20 of 29 passes for 149 yards.

Holliday compares Mitchell to the type of athlete recruited by FCS power Appalachian State.

“He runs around well and throws the ball well enough,” Holliday said. “He did a nice job running that offense.”

Of course, Mitchell is not the only quarterback Marshall will see Saturday. He could start, or it might be former Marshall quarterback Eddie Sullivan, the transfer who was suspended last week.

Sullivan spent two seasons in the Marshall program, so he is familiar with the Herd defense, and vice versa.

“Eddie was their starter prior to getting suspended,” Holliday said. “I would guess we will probably see both Eddie and Troy at quarterback.

“I don’t think they will change what they are doing offensively whether it is Eddie or Troy. We just have to prepare for what they do. Regardless of who is in there we have to make sure we do a great job and get stops.”

— E-mail: gfauber@register-herald.com

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