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New rule affects early stats for Marshall

According to the NCAA's website, Marshall sophomore quarterback Rakeem Cato leads the nation in passing yards with 805.

Upon further review, that's not the case.

Cato is, in fact, 70-for-96 passing through the Thundering Herd's first two games, but the NCAA has credited the second-year QB with 15 yards he did not earn.

Cato has actually thrown for 790 yards and ranks third nationally in that category behind Syracuse's Ryan Nassib (804) and Houston's David Piland (791).

The 15-yard discrepancy occurred in the WVU-Marshall game and can be blamed on the new kickoff-touchback rule and stat-tracking software that didn't get the necessary update.

In the Sept. 1 Friends of Coal Bowl, WVU booted three of its first four kickoffs for touchbacks. A new NCAA rule implemented this season puts kickoffs at the 35 and brings touchbacks out to the 25-yard line instead of the 20.

After the opening kickoff was brought out to the 25, Cato hit senior receiver Aaron Dobson for an 8-yard gain to the 33. The software, however, credited Cato with a 13-yard completion to Dobson by using the 20-yard line as the drive's starting point.

The same glitch occurred on the second and fourth drives of the game, when senior receiver Andre Booker was credited with a 9-yard catch (should have been 4 yards) and Dobson a 45-yarder that was 5 yards too generous.

Cato should've been credited with 413 yards - as WVU, Marshall and the media did - and not 428.

No reason to throw the challenge flag. It'll be corrected.

*  *  *

THE 15-YARD subtraction from Cato's overall stats do little to dampen his two-game totals in his second year as a starting quarterback.

The Miami native is already knocking on the door of the program's career top 10 lists for every major passing category with, possibly, 34 regular season games left of his collegiate career.

If Cato had played at all in the fourth quarter of the Herd's 52-24 blowout win over Western Carolina, he would've likely become the program's first sophomore to have two 400-yard passing games.

Cato followed up his 413-yard performance against WVU with 377 yards against Western Carolina. He completed 32-of-42 passes and tossed three touchdowns in three quarters of action.

He is the first Herd quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards in consecutive games since Stan Hill in November of 2004 (439 yards at Akron; 348 yards at Bowling Green).

Cato seems likely to join the exclusive list of Herd signal callers who have multiple 400-yard passing games: Byron Leftwich, Michael Payton, Tony Petersen and Chad Pennington. It's a matter of when, not if.

MU's backup QB, Blake Frohnapfel, went 4-for-4 with 53 passing yards in fourth-quarter relief of Cato, giving Marshall the No. 1 passing offense in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

And Cato may not be tops nationally in passing, but consider these numbers: No other quarterback in the top five in passing yards is completing more than 70 percent of their passes (Cato is at 72.92), and Cato also has the best yards per attempt of those in the top five (8.39 yards).

*  *  *

WEST VIRGINIA had its off week ahead of this Saturday's non-conference game against James Madison at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

The Mountaineers rank second in total offense at 655 yards per game. The Herd is sixth at 587.5 yards per game.

The Mountain State has just two major college football programs, but West Virginia is the only state with two teams in the top 10 in total offense.

*  *  *

RICH RODRIGUEZ is back in the top 25.

The state native and former West Virginia coach has guided the Arizona Wildcats into the national rankings after his first two games in charge of the program.

Arizona routed No. 18 Oklahoma State, 59-38, Saturday to improve the Wildcats to 2-0.

Arizona debuted at No. 24 in the Associated Press poll released Sunday morning.

Rodriguez had his Michigan teams in the top 25 for just seven weeks in his three seasons with the program.

Contact sports editor Chuck McGill at chuck.mcgill@dailymail.com or 304-348-7949.


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