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MU football: Hunter comfortable at linebacker

HUNTINGTON - D.J. Hunter's start at strongside linebacker might not be an isolated occurrence, but Marshall Coach Doc Holliday said it doesn't mean that guarantees he'll start there every game.

Hunter moved from strong safety to linebacker before last Saturday's game against Western Carolina and immediately started, recording six tackles. Holliday said Tuesday the team the Thundering Herd faces might determine Hunter's position.

"It think it'll be opponent to opponent, but he's physical enough to play in there and what we ask that linebacker to do, he's covered up a lot and he's out in space and doing some things," Holliday said. "He's comfortable out there and I thought he did well."

Hunter isn't the first member of Marshall's secondary to move into this season's linebacker corps. Both weakside linebackers, Devin Arrington and Evan McKelvey, were safeties last season, though Arrington had moved from linebacker to safety to shore up numbers there. Raheem Waiters, who started at strongside against West Virginia, also is a former safety.

That may make for a lighter linebacker group, but Holliday said talent could trump size when it comes to filling out a starting lineup.

"I think as a coach, you just try to get your best players on the field, whether it be offense or defense," he said. "You want to get your best 11 players on the field and go from there."

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AMONG THE numbers that made Holliday happy following the win over the Catamounts were the Herd's nine missed tackles. Keeping the missed tackles under double digits makes it a lot easier to win, he said.

Holliday added it's a lot easier to keep missed tackles down when players aren't chasing Tavon Austin and other WVU athletes like they did in the Herd's season opening loss.

But Holliday doesn't expect an easy night for Marshall's defense with Ohio coming to town Saturday at 6:30 p.m. The Bobcats, led by quarterback Tyler Tettleton and running back Beau Blankenship, average 37.5 points and 541.5 yards per game.

"This group we have coming in Saturday night, now, Blankenship and Tettleton, you'd better wrap those guys up, too," he said, "or they'll do the same thing to us."

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Senior Antavious Wilson became a bigger fixture in the Herd offense against Western Carolina. His six catches for 98 yards were the most he had since catching seven passes for 119 yards in the Herd's 24-23 win over Ohio on Sept. 25, 2010.

Wilson said an improved chemistry with quarterback Rakeem Cato has led to a better connection.

"We work on it every day in practice," Wilson said. "Like Doc said, in practice, you work so hard that the game is easy."

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HOLLIDAY SAID the two offensive linemen who missed Saturday's game - left guard Josh Lovell (left leg) and right guard Garrett Scott (left leg) - will be back at practice this week. He praised redshirt junior Alex Schooler, who stepped in for Lovell against Western Carolina.

"Schooler's one guy that I'm extremely pleased with," Holliday said. "He's playing as well as anybody. This is the first time we've really gotten anything out of that kid. I told him that."

As for other injuries, Holliday said Darryl Roberts, who has yet to play after spending part of the preseason in a walking boot, is still "a couple of weeks away." Running back Tron Martinez remains "in limbo" as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery.


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