MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Marshall tight end Gator Hoskins didn't waste much time becoming a factor in Thursday's game at Middle Tennessee State - even if, by his own admission, those opportunities are harder to come by this season.
Hoskins caught his sixth touchdown pass of the season in the second quarter, giving Marshall its first lead of the game, 21-14, over the Blue Raiders. It was Hoskins' fourth catch of the half, one that he ended with 67 yards.
The Blue Raiders were able to tie the game before halftime, with a 16-yard pass from quarterback Logan Kilgore to receiver Christian Collis with 27 seconds left in the second quarter.
It hasn't been as easy to get open for the senior in 2013. His six touchdowns lead the Thundering Herd, but it's coming against more double teams and bracket coverage. It's not as much as receiver Tommy Shuler sees, Hoskins said earlier this week, but more than he saw in 2012. He set the single-season record for touchdowns by a tight end last year, with 10.
But that came, he said, with senior receivers Aaron Dobson and Antavious Wilson on the outside, taking the pressure off Hoskins over the middle.
"Last year, we had Dobson and Tay and going into the season, a lot of people game-planned around Dobson," Hoskins said. "That allowed me to get open and make a couple of plays. This year, they're game planning around me and Shuler. It's a lot tougher to make plays, but you've still got to make plays."
He made plenty in the first half versus MTSU. He was on the receiving end of quarterback Rakeem Cato's first completion of the night, a 21-yarder. A 30-yard catch later in the half initially was called a touchdown, but Hoskins was ruled down at the 1-foot line after a review.
Hoskins was a quarterback at Eastside High in Gainesville, Fla., but has evolved into an effective pass-catching tight end in his college years. That growth simply came from hard work, he said.
"Practicing, practicing it every day," he said. "Working and working and working and getting experience from other guys, knowledge they have about the game, just telling me different things."
Some hullabaloo apparently was made on the Fox Sports 1 broadcast, when Hoskins was seen wearing sunglasses on the sideline, but those were to alleviate problems he's had with migraines.