It's that frightening possibility that quarterback Rakeem Cato feels motivates Butler to excel. All four running backs - Taliaferro, Butler, Grooms and Remi Watson - have shown in games they are worthy of carrying the football. That leaves little opportunity for any of them to relax. The back who takes a play off might not find himself running many plays with the offense.
"We've got four guys in that room that all can play good, so when your number is called, you have to make the play," Cato said. "Whether you get one play, 50 plays or 90 plays, you have to take advantage of all the reps you have."
Butler wouldn't delve into his frustrations during the preseason, but he admitted there were tough days leading up to Marshall's season opener. Locked in competition with three other running backs - including the 2012 Conference USA freshman of the year and a veteran who broke the century mark against bowl-bound East Carolina - those feelings are understandable.
Rather than let those frustrations consume him, he used them to get better. And Offensive Coordinator Bill Legg said he's seen Butler improve over the month.
"The last three weeks, I've seen a little bit different Stew Butler," Legg said. "He's much more focused, much more determined, a much harder working guy, and really, it showed up on Saturday."
Butler plans on it showing up again against the Runnin' Bulldogs. He doesn't know if he'll take the lion's share of the carries. He knows he may not. But he's ready for whatever the offense needs him to do, and is happy to show his talents in whatever role is necessary.
"I love it," Butler said. "I love the game. I just like being around the game, period. And when my number's called, I've got to execute. I'm going to keep working hard. I'm not on vacation."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.r...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.