HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- When Gardner-Webb wide receiver Kenny Cook takes the field for the Runnin' Bulldogs, he wants to be a player quarterbacks can notice and count on.
"I'm just trying to be a leader on the offense," the redshirt junior said. "I'm one of the older guys. And I'm trying to just be a security blanket for our quarterback, so whenever he comes my way, I'm just trying to make a play."
That happens often. According to Gardner-Webb's athletic department, 42 of the 57 passes Cook has caught with the Bulldogs have gone for either first downs or touchdowns, a 73.6 percent clip. That means Gardner-Webb quarterback Lucas Beatty won't be the only person searching the field for Cook. Marshall defensive coordinator Chuck Heater and his revitalized Thundering Herd defense will be doing the same.
When Cook and the Bulldogs visit Marshall at Joan C. Edwards Stadium at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, he'll likely be a target for both Gardner-Webb's offense and the Herd's defense.
From what Cook has been able to see of Marshall's defense, he considers it a big, athletic bunch whose defensive backs have no qualms lining up one-on-one.
"Marshall has a good defense and a good secondary," Cook said. "The defensive line gets off the ball really fast. They play a lot of man-to-man coverage and have good DBs. They can play man-to-man all game. We just have to go in and stick to our game plan and hope everything works out.
"They've got a lot of athletes and people who can run on the field," he added. "It'll be hard to work with our pass game, but hopefully our run game will work out if they do come out in that pass defense, and they can open some things up."
Cook has been known to open things up on offensive himself. His 13.9 yards per catch last season - his first after transferring from Garden City (Kan.) Community College - was the top returning average in the Big South Conference.