"I like his poise," Holliday said. "He's doing a good job of taking care of the football. He's making good decisions and he's just got to continue to grow up. He's going to be a good player. I think from year one to year two, you've seen he's grown up a bunch."
Western Carolina Coach Mark Speir praised Cato's demeanor as well. Speir, who coached at Appalachian State when Armanti Edwards was under center, said some quarterbacks are born with an "it" factor, and Cato is one of those quarterbacks.
"He doesn't get flustered," Speir said. "And those are the dangerous guys. Some guys are just born with that. When you've got a quarterback like that, you can do a lot with him."
Though he's been cool under fire this season, teammates say Cato remains a passionate competitor. Backup quarterback Blake Frohnapfel said he sees how seriously Cato takes the sport every day.
"The thing with him, he's a great quarterback and every day, he acts like it's the Super Bowl," he said. "He's an extreme competitor and he goes at it every day."
Tight end Eric Frohnapfel said he saw that during Saturday's first quarter. The Herd could muster just three points out of its first three drives, even though two of them ended in Western Carolina's red zone. Cato had no problem telling the offense that wasn't acceptable, and Marshall scored three touchdowns - all Cato passes - on the next three possessions.
"He was getting on people, saying this isn't the tempo we can play at, we can play better than this," Eric Frohnapfel said. "I think people really responded to that. The couple of drives we went out there and just threw the ball and threw the ball, he was putting the ball right on the money."
Cato may be young, but he knows his role in Marshall's success is an important one. And while the numbers that players like Pennington and Leftwich amassed may remain in the distance, reaching them remains a goal.
"I'm trying to do what they did," Cato said. "I'm trying to live up to their standards. They set very high standards and I'm trying to live up to them."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.r...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.