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CFN Take: Marshall Gets By Maryland In Bowl
Posted Dec 27, 2013

Marshall Thundering Herd 2012 ... Head Coach: Doc Holliday

Marshall Thundering Herd  

2013 Record: 10-4
8/31 Miami Univ. W 52-14
9/7 Gardner-Webb W 55-0
9/14 at Ohio L 34-31
9/21 at Virginia Tech L 29-21 3OT
10/5 UTSA W 34-10
10/12 at Florida Atlantic W 24-23
10/19 at Middle Tenn L 51-49
11/2 Southern Miss W 61-13
11/9 UAB W 56-14
11/16 at Tulsa W 45-34
11/23 at FIU W 48-10
11/30 East Carolina W 59-28
C-USA Championship
12/7 Rice L 41-24
12/27 Maryland W 31-20
Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman
Marshall 31, Maryland 20
Basically … Rakeem Cato threw three touchdowns passes with two eight-yarders to Gator Hoskins with the first coming late in the first quarter and the other to put the game away with under four minutes to play in the fourth. The two teams went back and forth, with C.J. Brown throwing two touchdown passes for the Terps including a 29-yarder to Levern Jacobs in the first and a two-yarder to Dave Stinebaugh in the fourth, but two key drives stalled and brown was picked off by A.J. Leggett to all but snuff out any final chances.

- Marshall QB Rakeem Cato completed 28-of-44 passes for 337 yards and three scores, and he ran seven times for 15 yards.
- Marshall TE Gator Hoskins caught six passes for 104 yards and two scores.
- Marshall DE Alex Bazzie made seven tackles with a sack and four tackles for loss.
- Maryland DT Andre Monroe made ten tackles with a sack, a quarterback hurry and three tackles for loss.
- Maryland SS Sean Davis made ten tackles
- Maryland QB C.J. Brown completed 14-of-24 passes for 197 yards and two scores.
- Maryland RB Brandon Ross ran 20 times for 116 yards

Rice 41, Marshall 24
Basically … Rice took control early with a 14-0 lead on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Luke Turner to Donte Moore, and then came the home run with Taylor McHargue hitting Jordan Taylor for a 75-yard score. A Charles Ross four-yard score gave the Owls a 21-3 lead, and then they blew the game open in the fourth on a 17-yard Darik Dillard run and an eight-yard pass from Turner to Connor Cella for a 34-10 lead. A 16-yard Ross scoring run put the game away in the fourth. Marshall got two touchdown passes from Rakeem Cato, and a one-yard Devon Johnson scoring run, but this was all Rice.
- Rice RB Charles Ross ran 18 times for 109 yards and two scores
- Marshall QB Rakeem Cato completed 24-of-41 passes for 265 yards and two scores with a pick, and he ran nine times for 25 yards.
- Rice QB Taylor McHargue completed 8-of-16 passes for 196 yards and a score, and he ran seven times for 34 yards.
- Rice outgained Marshall 487 yards to 371.

Marshall 59, at East Carolina 28
Basically … Marshall grabbed the East title by coming out hot and never letting it become a game scoring the first 24 points helped by short touchdown runs from Devon Johnson and Rakeem Cato along with a three-yard Gator Hoskins scoring grab. Johnson ran for another score and took a pass 52 yards for a touchdown, and Cato ran for another touchdown to close out a 21-point second half run that made it a blowout. East Carolina got two touchdowns from Vintavious Cooper, but the offense turned it over three times and failed to keep up.
- Marshall QB Rakeem Cato completed 17-of-28 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns with a pick, and he ran five times for six yards and two scores.
- East Carolina QB Shane Carden completed 29-of-52 passes for 291 yards and three picks, and he ran three times for 14 yards and a touchdown.
- East Carolina RB Vintavious Cooper ran 20 times for 93 yards and two scores, and he caught five passes for 31 yards.
- Marshall RB Essray Taliaferro ran 26 times for 161 yards

at Marshall 56, UAB 14
Basically … Rakeem Cato threw three touchdown passes and ran for another, and three Herd backs ran for 100 yards with Essray Taliaferro running for two touchdowns and Steward Butler tearing off a 49-yard scoring dash. UAB got on the board early with a two-yard Darrin Reaves run, and Jonathan Perry found Reaves for a 32-yard score, but the Herd scored 28 unanswered points and wasn’t stopped.
- Marshall got 139 yards and a score out of Steward Butler, 118 yards and two touchdowns from Essray Taliaferro and 108 yards and a touchdown from Kevin Grooms. The Herd averaged 11.9 yards per carry.
- UAB RB Darrin Reaves ran 24 times for 98 yards and a score and caught three passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. Jordan Howard led the Blazers with 22 carries for 123 yards.
- Marshall outgained UAB 657 yards to 464.
- UAB had the ball for over 39 minutes, but was -2 in turnover margin.

at Marshall 61, Southern Mississippi 13, Nov. 2
Basically … Marshall QB Rakeem Cato threw four touchdowns passes in the first quarter and a total of five in the first half to lead the way in a rout of Southern Mississippi. The Thundering Herd jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Golden Eagles got an 81-yard touchdown pass and a 39-yard field goal to cut into the lead. A strike to Tommy Shuler at the end of the first half gave Marshall all the momentum it needed to cruise to victory with three rushing touchdowns in the second half.
- Cato was 21-of-28 for 262 yards and five touchdowns in a little more than a half of action.
- Southern Mississippi QB Nick Mullens completed 24-of-48 passes for 323 yards, a score and an interception.
- Marshall had two 100-yard rushers, gaining 304 yards on the ground.
- Southern Mississippi had 13 penalties for 76 yards.

at Middle Tennessee 51, Marshall 49
Basically … Logan Kilgore hit Tavarres Jefferson on a nine-yard touchdown pass as time ran out to give Middle Tennessee the thrilling win. The Blue Raiders needed the comeback after Marshall took the lead in the fourth on short touchdown runs from Kevin Grooms and Essray Taliaferro, but it took just 2:29 to march for the game-winner. Rakeem Cato threw three touchdown passes for the Herd including a 39-yarder to Jazz King, while Kilgore kept pace with three scoring passes and a one-yard scoring run. Chris Brown gave the Blue Raiders a 14-7 first quarter lead on a blocked punt for a score.
- Middle Tennessee really, really needed this. Logan Kilgore’s late touchdown drive turned around a dying season after three straight losses, and now with four winnable games ahead against UAB, FIU, Southern Miss and UTEP, there’s a great chance to go on a decent run to a bowl.
- Marshall was supposed to have the dangerous, explosive offense, and Essray Taliaferro did a great job of balancing out the attack with 134 yards and two scores on 24 carries, but its defense was the story – it couldn’t stop the Middle Tennessee passing game in the clutch and gave up 308 yards on the ground. While this wasn’t devastating to Conference USA title hopes – getting Southern Miss and UAB up next will help – there’s going to be work to do on the road at Tulsa and East Carolina.

Marshall 24, at Florida Atlantic 23
Basically … Marshall’s Justin Haig kicked a 41-yard field goal as time ran out to survive a fight against FAU. The Herd started out the scoring with a 77-yard punt return for a score from Devon Smith in the second quarter, but FAU came back with short touchdown runs from Jonathan Wallace and Jaquez Johnson and a five-yard touchdown catch from Nexon Dorvilus for a 23-14 lead in the fourth. The Herd rallied ten unanswered points with Gator Hoskins scoring on a 41-yard pass with the extra point making it a two point game, but it looked bleak in the final moments. Marshall started its final drive on the nine-yard line, and Rakeem Cato led the way down to the FAU 24 for the game-winner.
- Rakeem Cato might have had a rough game, and he only finished hitting 18-of-34 passes for 216 yards with a score and a pick, but he was balling late. He scrambled for a key first down, and finished with 45 rushing yards with the ground game wasn’t providing much of anything. It was a much, much bigger fight than expected, but the Herd will survive and move on. The schedule isn’t bad, but the offense has to sharpen back up after stalling too much.
- FAU almost came up with the really big win needed to keep bowl hopes alive. At 3-4 with Southern Miss, New Mexico State and FIU still to play, a bowl would’ve been likely, but at 2-5, it’s going to take a few upsets. The defense continues to get the job done, and it limited the high-powered Herd until the late game-winning drive. There wasn’t enough pressure, but the run defense did a terrific job. Overall, though, the Owls are improving under Carl Pelini.

at Marshall 34, UTSA 10
Basically … Marshall came out roaring with 24 straight points helped by a 17-yard Devon Johnson touchdown catch and short scoring runs from Essray Taliafero and Steward Butler. UTSA managed a Sean Ianno field goal late in the first half, and Eric Soza ran for a one-yard score in the fourth, but Rakeem Cato put the game away with his second touchdown pass of the game with less than four minutes to play.
- Marshall basically coasted. The defense came up with the takeaways, the passing game worked with Rakeem Cato completing 22-of-32 passes for 279 yards and two scores, and there wasn’t any stress after the first quarter.
- Everything had to go right for UTSA, and there couldn’t be any mistakes. It didn’t happen. There wasn’t any consistency to the passing game, the ground attack was stopped cold from the start, and the three picks from Eric Soza and ten penalties led MU take it relatively easy.

at Virginia Tech 29, Marshall 21
Basically … In a sloppy, rain-soaked game, Virginia Tech rallied late with Logan Thomas forcing overtime, helped out by a late pick from Kyshoen Jarrett, with a two-yard touchdown pass to Willie Byrn, and then the fun began. In the first overtime Tech’s backup kicker Ethan Keyserling missed from 50 yards out, but Marshall’s Justin Haig’s kick was blocked. In the second overtime, Marshall QB Rakeem Cato was stripped, and Derrick Hopkins took it the other way before being tackled on the Herd 19. However, Keyserling missed a 32-yard game-winning attempt. Thomas ran for a two-yard touchdown in the third OT, but Marshall couldn’t answer as a perfectly thrown Cato pass went through Davonte Allen’s hands.
- In awful conditions, Rakeem Cato was balling. He only completed 19-of-41 passes for 228 yards, but he was hit all game long and he kept pressing down the field. Tommy Shuler caught ten passes for 120 yards as Cato’s main man.
- Logan Thomas has to do a much, much better job of feeling the defensive pressure. He was only sacked twice, but he seems to rely on his size and bulk since he doesn’t usually go down with just one shot.
- Marshall was killed by mistakes with three turnovers, a blocked punt allowed for a score, and 11 penalties.
- Virginia Tech has to figure out the kicking game, and fast. Cody Journell didn’t dress for the game after being suspended for violating team rules, but Ethan Keyserling was shaky. With an offense that doesn’t score in bunches, the Hokies can’t afford to not be automatic on field goals. However, it’s not like Journell was a rock.

at Ohio 34, Marshall 31, Sept. 14
Basically … Beau Blankenship ran for two touchdowns and Tyler Tettleton threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Troy Hill as Ohio held a 34-24 lead late in the fourth. Marshall kept pressing with Rakeem Cato throwing a 38-yard touchdown pass to Gator Hoskins in the fourth quarter and running for a one-yard score, but the rushing touchdown came with just 29 seconds to play to pull within three, and the Bobcats held on.
- Four turnovers. The Marshall offense moved the chains and had its moments of explosions, but three fumbles and an interception were too much to overcome. Rakeem Cato was his typical fantastic self, but between the giveaways and the eight penalties, this wasn’t a tight performance.
- Where’s the Ohio ground game? It averaged just 1.7 yards per try. Beau Blankenship can’t find any room to move, and while he ran for two touchdowns, he only ran 16 times for 36 yards. The offense is relying on Tyler Tettleton and his passing to get by.
- The punting for Ohio played a big role. Quarterback Derrius Vick pooched a 37-yarder inside the 20, and Grant Venham averaged close to 41 yards per kick and put two of his three kicks deep. Marshall had a lot of long fields to work with.
- The Marshall defense played a nice game overall considering the bad spots it was put in. The defensive front held up well, and there weren’t many deep plays allowed, but the back seven was dinked and dunked on to death.

at Marshall 55, Gardner-Webb 0, Sept. 7
Basically … Marshall used a combined effort from the offense and the defense to blank Gardner-Webb. The offense cranked out 509 balanced yards, while the defense chipped in with three interceptions, one that DB Moterius Lovett returned 70 yards to give the Thundering Herd a 31-0 lead just prior to halftime.
- Herd QB Rakeem Cato is a dynamic playmaker behind center for the Herd. He's doubly scary when Steward Butler is running the way he did on Saturday, jetting for 151 yards and three touchdowns on only nine carries.
- The Herd was unusually active on D against Gardner-Webb, a trend head coach Doc Holliday hopes to carry into the start of Conference USA play. Besides the three picks, seven different Marshall players got in on sacks.

at Marshall 52, Miami University 14, Aug. 31
Basically … Rakeem Cato threw five touchdown passes helping Marshall roll up 38 unanswered points after a 14-14 halftime tie. MU got an eight-yard touchdown catch from Steve Marck, and Spencer Treadwell ran for a two-yard score, but Cato was too much finding Gator Hoskins for two scores and finishing it off with a 54-yard Devon Smith scoring play.
- Miami’s short passing game is built for converting on third down, but the O didn’t get it done converting on just 2-of-13 chances.
- Cato didn’t have to take any chances because he wasn’t under any real pressure getting sacked just once. He did a great job of taking what the RedHawk defense gave him.
- Is this a new year and a new era for the Marshall defense? Jermaine Holmes led the way for a whale of a day making eight tackles with a sack and three tackles for loss.
- Miami made an effort to run the ball, but it still didn’t work with just 74 yards on 34 carries. The offense is going to be Austin Boucher’s passing or bust, and against the Herd, it was bust.

Spring Analysis

Why To Get Excited … last year’s team featured just eight seniors, meaning this year’s edition will be loaded with veterans up and down the roster. The offense will once again lead the charge behind QB Rakeem Cato, who threw for 4,201 yards and 37 touchdowns in 2012. The junior will get plenty of support from last season’s top three rushers, sure-handed receivers Tommy Shuler and Gator Hoskins and six offensive linemen with starting experience on the resume.

Why To Be Grouchy … Chuck Heater was lured away from Temple to fix the Marshall D, but can anyone realistically turn this group around? Not much thunder emanated from the Herd, which allowed at least 40 points in seven of last year’s 12 contests. Marshall is undersized in the front seven, and too often overmatched in pass defense. Track meets can be fun for viewers, but are a poor model for long-term prosperity.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … the secondary. More than any other unit of the depth chart, the defensive backfield needs to be developed between now and September. The Herd was burned for 30 touchdown passes in 2012, while picking off just nine balls. Plus, a pair of productive safeties, Dominick LeGrande and Okechukwu Okoroha, has graduated. Heater and his staff must develop the young kids, while keeping corners Darryl Roberts and A.J. Leggett healthy.

Non-Conference Games: Miami University, Gardner-Webb, at Ohio, at Virginia Tech
Games Against the West: at Tulsa, UTSA
Realistic Best Case Record: 10-2
Worst Case Record: 6-6
Likely Finish: 9-3

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Miami University, Gardner-Webb, at Ohio, UTSA, at Florida Atlantic, at Middle Tennessee, Southern Miss, UAB, at FIU

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Virginia Tech, at Tulsa, East Carolina

Schedule Analysis: There’s no West Virginia this season, but going to Ohio will be sneaky-tough before hitting the road to face Virginia Tech. Fortunately, the conference start couldn’t be any easier with UTSA and road games at Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee wrapped around two bye weeks. Follow those up against a Southern Miss team that went winless last year and a good, not great, UAB squad, and everything should set up nicely for a possible Conference USA title game preview at Tulsa. The season could revolve around the regular season finale against East Carolina.

Team Concerns For 2013: Considering the passing game led the nation and the offense finished sixth, there isn't a lot of concern with eight starters returning, even though the offensive line has to be far better in pass protection. The defense was the second-worst in college football in points allowed, giving up over 43 per game getting flattened time and again against the run. Eight starters are back on D, and now they all have to tackle someone to take advantage of the explosive attack.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Defensive backs. What does the nation's best passing game need? More receivers, and Doc Holliday has brought in some interesting ones with Angelo Jean-Louis destined to be a Conference USA all-star and Deontay McManus a dangerous weapon who'll quickly put up big numbers. However, the Herd also needs to stop someone, especially someone's passing game, and the hope is for JUCO transfer Taj Letman can hold down a safety job while fellow JUCOer Lakeith Murray will push for a corner gig. Those two are good, but Chocolate Wilson has the potential to be great at corner.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 91. That Class Was Heavy On ... Offensive linemen. Doc Holliday has a ton of quarterback prospects in place, a true sophomore in Rakeem Cato to work around, and more talent on the way, and now he needs linemen to keep the passers clean. With both starting tackles gone, the outside of the line will get really young, really fast, opening the door for a few JUCO transfers. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 65. That Class Was Heavy On ... Quarterback. The last two classes have loaded up on receivers, and Levern Jacobs is a 4.4 speedster coming in this year, but the Herd needs more pop to the passing game and hopes to get it with three interesting options. 6-5 Blake Frohnapfel is a chucker, Cornelius Jones if coming in from Fort Union Military Academy to try to challenge right away, and Rakeem Cato out of Miami can do a little bit of everything. Tight ends Rakim Reed and Eric Frohnapfel will be big factors in a few years.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 80. That Class Was Heavy On ... Receivers. If nothing else, new head man Doc Holliday will have plenty of pass catchers to use in a rotation. Last year's Herd class was full of big, strong receivers. This year's class is loaded with small, quick ones led by the lightning-quick Fred Pickett. Josh Lovell is a do-it-all tight end who could be good enough to be better than Cody Slate with a little bit of work, while Jazz King, Antwon Chisolm, and Demetrius Evans are all talented enough to be given a long look for early playing time. New quarterback Eddie Sullivan will have plenty of practice options to play around with.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 102. That Class Was Heavy On ... wide receivers. The Herd has loaded up on a bunch of big, physical wide receivers that other schools felt were a little unpolished at this stage of their careers. A collection of athletes who all go at least 6-2, most are expected to do an apprenticeship in 2009 before being turned loose. A local kid, C.J. Crawford is both big and very fast. Wayne Bonner, on the other hand, comes via East Mississippi Junior College, and is most likely to chip in right away.

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