www.charlestondailymail.com Marshall Sports http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2014, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Ball security a big issue vs. Ohio http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140909/DM03/140909194 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140909/DM03/140909194 Tue, 9 Sep 2014 20:57:48 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall's football team hasn't just lost the turnover battle with Ohio in their last three "Battles for the Bell." The Thundering Herd has been drubbed.

That the Herd has committed 13 turnovers - six interceptions and seven fumbles - to the Bobcats' three isn't all. It's when they happened and how much they've contributed to Marshall's three-game losing streak to Ohio.

Marshall enters this season's edition of the battle, Saturday at noon on CBS Sports Network, even more determined to reverse that trend. If the Herd (2-0) can't break its streak to the Bobcats (1-1) this season, it gets just one more chance next year before the series goes on hiatus until 2019.

"There's no question it's been an issue," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. "Just take care of the ball and that'll sure help. You can't turn the ball over three or four times against any good football team and win."

A look at the Herd's recent history with the Bobcats shows Marshall knows that better than they'd like.

In 2011, Marshall turned the ball over six times, four Cato interceptions and two fumbles, all in the first half. Three of them allowed the Bobcats to begin drives on the 50-yard line or closer. Ohio scored 24 of its 34 first-half points off turnovers on its way to a 44-7 win in Athens.

In 2012, the Herd committed three turnovers, including two on its final two drives in Huntington. Antavious Wilson fumbled at the Ohio 21 and Nate Carpenter returned it to the Marshall 31 to set up the Bobcats' game-winning field goal. Marshall tried to answer on the ensuing drive and got as close as Ohio's 27, but Cato threw an interception to end those hopes and lose, 27-24.

Then in 2013 back in Athens, Marshall outgained Ohio by nearly 150 yards and still lost, 34-31, thanks to four more turnovers - three fumbles and a Cato interception. An Essray Taliaferro fumble on the Herd's opening drive allowed Ohio to score the game's first touchdown. Steward Butler fumbled twice, including on a second-quarter kickoff that Ohio recovered in the end zone to take a 17-7 lead. Then, with a chance to tie the game in the fourth, Cato threw was intercepted at his own 33. Ohio kicked a field goal on the ensuing drive to ice the game.

"They've just been making plays," Cato said. "They have some way, somehow, to make that play to change the ballgame and they did it. I don't know how, but they know how and they did it."

If Ohio forces a turnover against Marshall on Saturday, it'll be the Bobcats' first of the season. Ohio has been among the better teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision in forcing turnovers, grabbing 27 in 2011 (tied for 28th), 25 in 2012 (tied for 37th) and 22 in 2013 (tied for 53rd). Yet they did not recover a fumble or pick off a pass versus either Kent State or Kentucky.

Ohio coach Frank Solich said the Bobcats have to get back to their ball-hawking ways, but need to do it in a way that limits the opposing offense's chances at breaking free for big plays.

"You have opportunities to try and strip the ball, but you've got to be careful on how that all works," Solich said during his Monday press conference, "because if you're going in to tackle and strip at the same time, generally you're not productive on your tackle. The first guy needs to bring him down, and then the other people coming in need to then try and strip the ball. In position to make an interception, sometimes that comes from pressure on the quarterback and he's throwing it up for grabs."

Marshall's win last week against Rhode Island could do a pretty good job in jogging players memories of how much turnovers can sting. The Herd won 48-7, but it was just 7-0 with 2:22 left in the first half, thanks in part to a pair of fumbles in the second quarter.

Holliday said the importance of ball security is impressed upon Marshall's offense every day. Center Chris Jasperse said running backs coach Chris Barclay has made it evident his players will focus on it even more this week.

"Starting (Sunday) in practice, the first thing the running backs were working on was ball security," he said. "Coach Barclay came to the O-line and said, 'That won't happen again, guys. That was on me.' He took initiative and every day they'll do ball-security drills and he'll make sure they hold onto the football."

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Offensive line depth on display http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140909/DM03/140909198 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140909/DM03/140909198 Tue, 9 Sep 2014 20:48:07 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The Marshall football team's offensive line has put its depth, especially at left tackle, to the test over the first couple games of the season.

The Thundering Herd rotated three players at left tackle in its 48-7 win over Rhode Island this past Saturday. Sebastian Johansson started there, but spent the second half wearing a protective boot on his right foot. A.J. Addison replaced Johansson, but also left the game with a right leg injury. That put Trevor Mendelson at the position, where he played 33 snaps.

Eleven linemen have played at least 14 snaps in the first two games. Starting right tackle Clint Van Horn said they've all shown they're able to play and would remain confident if any of them took the field Saturday at Joan C. Edwards Stadium versus Ohio (noon, CBS Sports Network).

"It really does speak volumes of the trust in our room and the trust that the coaches have in us, especially (offensive line coach Alex) Mirabal with our offensive line," Van Horn said. "I have trust in our guys. I trust the next man up."

Football teams aren't always that lucky, Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said Tuesday. Sometimes, they're forced to insert a young player that isn't ready. Teams want to get to a point in their programs where they don't put anyone on the field they don't feel good about. That's not the case with the offensive line, Holliday said.

"This offensive line is a group that works extremely hard," Holliday said. "When Alex puts a guy on the field, normally good things happen."

That comes from the attitude the linemen up and down the depth chart take in practice, Van Horn said. Whether they're scheduled to play 70 snaps or none on game day, each lineman takes his preparation seriously.

"Even the younger guys, when they get beat in practice, they get really, really mad," Van Horn said. "I love that it bothers them. You don't want them to be a guy that says 'I don't care, I'm redshirting,' or 'I don't care, I'm not getting that many reps at game time.' Every single rep is important to each guy. Knock on wood, I don't want anything happen to anybody, but I trust the next guy to step up."

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HOLLIDAY LIKES what he's seen so far from the true freshman he's played this season - Addison, tight end Ryan Yurachek, receivers Hyleck Foster and Gator Green, defensive backs Kendall Gant and Antavis Rowe and defensive linemen Jerome Dews and Tomell One. He did admit that he probably made a mistake running Green out as Marshall's starting punt returner Saturday versus Rhode Island, a game played in heavy rain. Green fair caught his first punt at the Marshall 12, let the second punt roll to the Marshall 1 and fumbled the third.

"I put him in a tough situation, to be honest," Holliday said. "And if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't put him in that with the pouring rain. That's probably not good on my part."

As for burning any more redshirts, Holliday said that was unlikely.

"When we put those freshmen in there, it's with a plan to play them for the rest of the year. It's worthwhile for them to play, and they're going to help us. I don't know if you'll see a lot more. Unless we got into an injury situation where we had to play one, you probably won't see anyone else."

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HOLLIDAY EXPECTED every player out or banged up against Rhode Island to practice this week. That includes corner Keith Baxter, who sat out the game with a hamstring injury, safety A.J. Leggett, who sat out the game after taking a hard hit against Miami (Ohio), left tackles Johansson and Addison, and running back Remi Watson, who left the game in obvious pain after fumbling. ... This week's captains are Van Horn, quarterback Rakeem Cato, defensive lineman James Rouse and corner Darryl Roberts.

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

Marshall golf: MU women finish 14th in first 2014 golf outing http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140909/DM03/140909271 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140909/DM03/140909271 Tue, 9 Sep 2014 00:01:00 -0400


NORMAL, Ill. - Marshall women's golf senior Korakot Simsiriwong finished in a two-way tie for 15th in the final round of the Redbird Invitational on Monday at Weibring Golf Club.

Totaling 13-over-par 229 after three 18-hole rounds, Simsiriwong tied with Ally Scaccia who competed as an individual from Bradley University. Marshall posted a 92-over 956 in its first outing of 2014, placing 14th in a 16-team field.

MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Thundering Herd running game has been strong http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140908/DM03/140909288 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140908/DM03/140909288 Mon, 8 Sep 2014 21:13:40 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The smile spread across Marshall senior center Chris Jasperse's face as soon as he heard the number.

Four-hundred and fourteen - the Thundering Herd's rushing total in the team's 48-7 win over Rhode Island. The only single-game total to eclipse that was Marshall's 576 rushing yards versus Detroit Tech in 1940.

"That's our mentality," Jasperse said. "We want to put as many yards on the ground as we can."

Right now, the Herd gains more yards on the ground than all but 14 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision. It's one of 15 teams averaging at least 300 rushing yards per game, coming in at 301.5 per contest.

Marshall's offense is pretty happy with its will-imposing ways in the run game, a component of the offense the Herd (2-0) knows will be crucial when it hosts Ohio (1-1) on Saturday in the "Battle for the Bell" (Noon, CBS Sports Network).

The Herd's rush offense has made steady improvement over the last four seasons. It averaged 120.1 yards per game in 2011, then jumped to 169.2 yards per game in 2012. Its 205.9 yards per game last year was the most Marshall averaged over a season since returning to the Football Bowl Subdivision, and it's averaging almost 100 yards more over the first two games of 2014.

"That's what our coaches demanded from us and what (offensive line coach Alex) Mirabal demanded from his offensive line," redshirt junior tackle Clint Van Horn said. "We're kind of building our identity as an offense and we want running to be our staple."

The players spread the credit throughout the offense. The skill players say it's the offensive line that's the catalyst, blowing open holes at the line of scrimmage.

"This past game, they were excellent," said junior running back Devon Johnson, who finished with 137 yards and a touchdown against Rhode Island. "There were holes here, there, and if we didn't hit one, it's because we missed it."

Even quarterback Rakeem Cato got into the act, leading the Herd with 143 yards and a touchdown on just nine carries. During Saturday's game, Jasperse approached Cato on the sideline and asked him why he was taking off up the field so much, if the line's protection was inadequate.

It was exactly the opposite, Cato said. The holes the line opened were so wide, he would have been crazy not to sprint through them for sure yardage.

"I was like, 'No, y'all are doing a great job,'" Cato said. "'Just continue playing great and doing what you're doing.'"

The linemen laud the backs for their work in Marshall's running game. They especially mention the thunder-and-lightning scenario back there with Johnson, bruising through the line at 6-foot-1 and 243 pounds, and juniors Steward Butler and Remi Watson, both of whom have the speed to elude tacklers.

"I think it's been a great thing," Jasperse said. "You have Devon, who's a big back and an every-down back. Then you've got Remi, who's a hybrid, who is physical and can run. And then you have Stew, who's fast as lightning.

"Those three guys, (defenses) don't know how to prepare for those guys," he added. "You don't know which of those guys is going to be in the game or when they're going to get a carry. It's hard to prepare for guys like that."

Marshall could use a boost in its running game versus the Bobcats. The Herd, losers of three straight to Ohio, has averaged just 87.5 rushing yards in its last two games versus the Bobcats. Van Horn said the team is fully aware of that fact, and wants to keep building upon the momentum of this season's first two games.

"This coaching staff has done a great job setting a bar for us," Van Horn said. "The players have done an even better job of setting the bar high."

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OHIO COACH Frank Solich wasn't ready Monday morning to name a starting quarterback for Saturday's game, though he doesn't plan on waiting for long.

"We'll make that announcement here in another day or two," he said.

Solich named redshirt junior Derrius Vick the starter before the season, but pulled him early in Ohio's 20-3 loss to Kentucky in favor of redshirt sophomore J.D. Sprague. Vick missed on all six of his pass attempts, with three drops. Sprague completed 13 of 25 passes for 143 yards.

Solich said he and quarterbacks coach Scott Isphording will discuss the depth chart under center, and he doesn't want to get to a point where they disregard a quarterback's good work because of one bad string of plays. Vick completed 18 of 24 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns in Ohio's season opening win over Kent State. Yet he feels both have the talent to lead the offense.

"I think we agree we have two quarterbacks that are capable of playing for us and winning ball games for us, and we want to keep bringing both guys along."

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CONFERENCE USA announced the game time and network for Marshall's Sept. 20 game at Akron. The Herd will visit the Zips for a 2 p.m. kickoff on ESPN3.com. Marshall's season opener versus Miami also was on ESPN3. Also, Marshall announced that its Oct. 25 home game versus Florida Atlantic has been moved to 3:30 p.m. and now will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1.

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MARSHALL'S 175 yards allowed to Rhode Island was the fewest it allowed in a regular season game since giving up 104 to the University of Central Florida in 2004. It was the fewest it has allowed in any game since giving up 123 to the Bobcats in Marshall's 2009 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl win.

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

MARSHALL SOCCER: Herd men draw against Liberty http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140907/DM03/140909394 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140907/DM03/140909394 Sun, 7 Sep 2014 21:46:39 -0400 HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - A Ryan Forde penalty kick goal in the 32nd minute and a Scott Doney goal in the 84th minute helped lead the Thundering Herd men's soccer team to a 2-2 tie after two periods of overtime against the Liberty Flames. The teams played in front of a crowd of 414 at Hoops Family Field at Veterans Memorial Soccer Complex. Liberty is now 2-0-1 on the season, while the Herd is at 0-1-2.

Scoring started with a Liberty goal in the 27th minute, when a Blessing Tahuona pass found a wide open Bay Kurtz at the 6-yard box. Kurtz was able to blast the ball past Marshall Goalkeeper Dominik Reining to put the Flames up 1-0.

The Herd responded with a goal in the 32nd minute, when a Flames handball in the box created a penalty kick chance for midfielder Ryan Forde, who buried the shot to the right side.

Second-half scoring was again started by the Flames. This time, Troy Reeves was able to collect a loose ball near the goal line and slot the ball home past Reining for a 2-1 lead in the 54th minute.

The Herd continued to press for a goal and found one in the 84th minute, when Matt Freeman was able to slide the ball over to Scott Doney, who slipped the ball into the open near side of the goal.

MARSHALL SOCCER: Herd women beat Appalachian State http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140907/DM03/140909395 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140907/DM03/140909395 Sun, 7 Sep 2014 21:46:18 -0400 HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Junior Erin Simmons netted her first goal of Marshall women's soccer's (2-2-1) 2014 season in the Herd's 2-1 defeat of Appalachian State (2-3-0) on Sunday afternoon at Veterans Memorial Soccer Complex.

After a scoreless first half, senior Kristine Culicerto got Marshall's offense going when she netted her team-high third goal of the 2014 campaign in the 49th minute. The Herd kept pressure on the Mountaineer defense, and in the 55th minute, a Sydney Arnold chip deflected off Simmons and past Appalachian State keeper Megan Roberson to extend Marshall's lead to 2-0.

The Herd's shutout hopes were sunk in the 82nd minute when Aubrey Fletcher set up a header for Julia Holz, who sent it from right to left past Marshall keeper Lizzie Kish. Appalachian State looked for an equalizer in the last few minutes, but ran out of time.

MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Herd defense dominant in home opener http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140907/DM03/140909402 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140907/DM03/140909402 Sun, 7 Sep 2014 21:08:18 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - There was nothing fancy with what the Marshall football team's defense did Saturday in the Thundering Herd's win over Rhode Island. Vanilla was the only flavor necessary.

Marshall's defense suffocated the Rams in a 48-7 win, allowing the Herd offense to work through its first-half struggles and regain its footing in the third quarter. The 175 yards Marshall allowed to the Rams on Saturday was the lowest total since holding the University of Central Florida to 104 yards in a 20-3 win on Oct. 30, 2004.

Herd coach Doc Holliday said his defense stymied the Rams by keeping things simple.

"We just played what we've been playing," Holliday said. "Just our base stuff. We just did what we did. That first defense went in and played extremely well."

Nine of Rhode Island's 16 drives of the game were three-and-outs ending in punts. At halftime, when Marshall went into the locker room up 17-0, the Rams could muster just four first downs and 63 yards of total offense. Six of their nine first-half drives were three-and-outs.

Marshall needed that defensive domination in the first two quarters. The Herd's offense, while having no trouble churning out yards, wasn't seeing the point production that normally comes with it. Ten of Marshall's 17 points came in last 2:22 of the half.

Marshall went nearly 25 minutes without scoring, despite gaining 388 yards in the process. Two first-half drives ended in turnovers. Two more ended in fourth-down stops, including a fourth-and-goal from the Rhode Island 1. Another ended in a punt.

Yet the Herd sideline remained calm. Offensive players said they had full trust in the defense and vice versa.

"It's fine," Hunter said. "(Defensive coordinator Chuck) Heater stressed to us that we've got to play great defense. It's all right if the offense doesn't score on every play. It happens sometimes, so we have to come out and execute every day.

"We knew we were going to be fine," Hunter added. "We knew the offense was going to pick it up. We just had to go out there and keep working and doing what we had to do."

Quarterback Rakeem Cato remembers the 2012 season, when Marshall's defense was among the nation's worst. That year, it seemed the Herd offense was forced to score on every drive just to keep Marshall competitive. That trend reversed course last season with Heater's arrival and Marshall allowed more than 20 fewer points per game.

The offense's faith in their defensive teammates remains strong this season, Cato said.

"Those guys, when we need a stop, they always get a stop," he said. "Even when our backs are against the wall, those guys find some way to get the stop. That's what it was all about, getting stops, getting off the field on third down and putting the offense back on the field."

Marshall shook its offensive doldrums in the second half and its scoring reflected its yardage total. After the Herd's first third-quarter drive ended in a fumble, the offense scored touchdowns on four consecutive drives. Its 724 yards of total offense was the fourth-best single-game total in program history.

Meanwhile, Marshall's defense continued stuffing the Rams. At one point in the third quarter, Marshall had outgained Rhode Island 606-80.

"Oh my gosh," said safety Taj Letman, who intercepted Rhode Island quarterback Mack Lowrie in the third quarter, after being told of that stat. "I didn't know that."

Marshall's defense finished with 12 tackles for a loss, including two sacks, plus Letman's interception and a fumble recovery. Holliday's only criticism of the defense was that the backup players weren't able to keep up the performance. The Rams gained 117 yards and scored its lone touchdown on two of their final four drives.

The competition gets tougher Saturday, when Marshall hosts Ohio in the "Battle for the Bell," a game the Bobcats have won the last three seasons. Hunter said the Herd's defense will be ready because it will treat its preparation for Ohio, and all opponents on the schedule, as seriously as it did its preparation for Rhode Island.

"Everybody just executed and came out, and we won't take any teams lightly," Hunter said. "We've got good coaches on the coaching staff and they won't let us take nobody lightly. We just go out and work hard every play, take no play off."

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Cato's legs as important as his arm in win http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140907/DM03/140909403 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140907/DM03/140909403 Sun, 7 Sep 2014 21:06:22 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato swears he's never run as fast as he did on his fourth-quarter touchdown sprint in the Thundering Herd's 48-7 win Saturday over Rhode Island.

"Ever," he said. "Since I was little."

There's no debate that he's never run farther on one play, or in one game, in his Marshall career.

The senior led the Herd with 143 rushing yards, including his 63-yard touchdown, in the team's win over the Rams. He actually had posted his career-longest run once before in Saturday's game. He had a 24-yard scamper in the first half that eclipsed his previous best of 23 yards on a run against Tulsa last season.

Cato said the play came off an inside zone read. Rhode Island's defensive ends had been playing aggressively all game. Cato saw the hole on that play, kept the ball and dashed through it.

"It was just me and the safeties," Cato said. "I think they took a bad angle, I just hit it, heard the crowd and made the play."

Cato's rushing total was the third-best for a quarterback in Marshall history. Only Danny Wright's 179 yards in 1978 versus Kent State and Bernard Morris' 151 yards versus Hofstra in 2006 were better. Both he and running back Devon Johnson crossed the 100-yard mark, with Johnson gaining 137 yards and a score on 14 carries, despite resting most of the second half.

The two helped the Herd finish with 432 rushing yards in all, the second-best total in team history behind its 576 yards against Detroit Tech in 1940.

Cato's running also balanced out a passing day that, for him, was ordinary. He completed 15 of 29 passes - that 51.7-percent completion percentage was more than 12 points below his career percentage entering the game of 63.8 - for 267 yards and two touchdowns. Still, those two passing scores extended his streak of games with at least one touchdown pass to 34, the best active streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision and five games away from breaking the record held by current Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

But Marshall coach Doc Holliday said he's preparing himself to hear Cato lobbying to use his feet even more than Saturday.

"Cato thinks he's a running back now," Holliday joked, "so he'll be hard to live with this week."

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HEAVY RAINS turned several streets and tailgating spots around Joan C. Edwards Stadium into lagoons Saturday. They also pushed back the game's kickoff time from 7:04 p.m. to 7:34 p.m. That still didn't keep the teams safe from bad weather.

The heavens opened yet again during the game, dumping even more rain on players, coaches and fans. What made Holliday thankful was that the rain wasn't accompanied by lightning. Then the weather would have gone from annoyance to hindrance because it would sent the teams back into the locker room until the lightning strikes had ceased.

"I'm just glad that, when we got out there, we didn't have to go back in," Holliday said. "I was worried when it was getting ugly. When you have to come back in to the locker room when you're already out there and warmed up, that's when it becomes an issue."

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THE HERD burned the redshirts of a few more freshmen Saturday. Receivers Gator Green and Hyleck Foster, defensive linemen Tomell One and Jerome Dews and safety Kendall Gant all took their first snaps as true freshmen. One and Dews each helped on a tackle, while Gant recorded three solo stops. Foster didn't record any statistics, but Green started the game as Marshall's punt returner.

It wasn't the most effective debut. Green fair caught his first punt on Marshall's 12, let the second roll to the Herd 1 and fumbled his third. Senior Tommy Shuler took over punt return duties after that.

Holliday said it still was good being able to get young players some field time.

"They're freshmen," he said. "That's why you try to break them in on special teams and try not to put them into too critical of situations. You just try to bring them along. They're going to be good players, they just have to get their feet wet and get going."

It might have been prudent for Marshall to get some young players some experience. Safety A.J. Leggett, who took a hard hit versus Miami (Ohio), did not play against Rhode Island. Neither did corner Keith Baxter, missing his second game with a hamstring injury.

Offensive left tackle Sebastian Johansson had a boot on his right foot and a crutch under his right arm in the second half. His replacement, freshman A.J. Addison, left late in the game with a right leg injury and fifth-year senior Trevor Mendelson took over at that spot. Redshirt junior running back Remi Watson left the game following his fumble in significant pain, but Holliday did not specify Watson's injury.

Redshirt junior running back Steward Butler, who missed the Miami game with an unspecified injury, did return versus Rhode Island and ran for 68 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.

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MARSHALL OFFICIALLY opened the Chris Cline Athletic Complex beside Edwards Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The facility is named after Cline, founder of Foresight Energy and a longtime Marshall benefactor, whose wealth is valued by Forbes Magazine at $2 billion.

Cline was at the podium Saturday with Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick, president Stephen Kopp and former Herd quarterback Chad Pennington and basketball guard Mike D'Antoni, honorary co-chairs of the university's Vision Campaign. Cline said his interest in helping build an indoor athletic complex came during a conversation with former Marshall co-offensive coordinator Tony Petersen, who mentioned that cold weather kept the Herd from practicing outside for a week.

"He reminded me real quick, 'You live in Florida. We haven't been out of the house. It's been below zero every day for the last seven days,'" Cline said. "It kind of dawned on me that it was a pretty big issue for them."

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Herd handles Rhode Island, 48-7, in home opener http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140907/DM03/140909444 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140907/DM03/140909444 Sun, 7 Sep 2014 00:15:58 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON - The Marshall offense needed a half to really get rolling. Its defense, however, was ready to go from the opening kickoff. That combination added up to a 48-7 Thundering Herd win over Rhode Island on Saturday at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

Herd quarterback Rakeem Cato threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a career-high and game-leading 143 yards and another score. Meanwhile, Marshall's defense racked up 12 tackles for a loss in holding the Rams to 175 yards of total offense.

Marshall (2-0) needed that defensive performance. Its offense racked up a ton of first-half yards, but turnovers and other miscues kept points off the scoreboard.

"Overall, I thought the defense did some really good things," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. "Offensively, there's no question that we can move the ball extremely well. We can't turn it over."

When the Herd trotted into the locker room at halftime, it had outgained the Rams 388-63. It led URI only 17-0, though, and needed two scores - a 25-yard Justin Haig field goal and a 27-yard Cato-to-Tommy-Shuler touchdown - in the final 2:22 of the half to get there. Marshall lost two of its four fumbles in the first half and missed on both of its fourth-down conversions, including a second-quarter fourth-and-goal try from the 1-yard line.

The offense had the freedom to work through its struggles, as the Rams could muster just 63 rushing yards and 17 passing yards in that same time frame.

When the third quarter began, Marshall reversed its fortunes from last week's rough third quarter in its win over Miami (Ohio). In Oxford, the Herd was outscored 17-0 in the third. Saturday at Edwards Stadium, Marshall outscored the Rams 21-0. That included Cato's second touchdown pass, a three-yarder to Angelo Jean-Louis, and a pair of Steward Butler touchdowns.

"The one thing we challenged them at halftime with was that we didn't want a repeat of that third quarter last week," Holliday said. "It was critical that we started fast in the second half and I thought we did a good job of getting that done."

Cato finally came alive in the second half as well. His accuracy jumped - completing 8 of 12 passes after completing 7 of 17 in the first half - and he carried the ball six times for 120 yards, including a 63-yard scoring sprint in the fourth quarter.

"He's a good player," Rhode Island coach Jim Fleming said. "He delivered a couple of deep balls early and got on top of us when we were in press coverage and put them on the money."

Marshall finished with 724 yards of total offense, which was the fourth-highest total in school history. The Herd's 432 rushing yards were the second-best total in school history behind its 576-yard performance versus Detroit Tech in 1940. Cato's 143 rushing yards where the third-best total for a Herd quarterback behind Danny Wright's 179 yards versus Kent State in 1978 and Bernard Morris' 151 yards against Hofstra in 2006.

Twelve Marshall defenders finished with at least four tackles, led by Corey Tindal and D.J. Hunter, each of whom had six. Taj Letman grabbed an interception and Joe Massaquoi and Gary Thompson each had a sack.

The Herd stays home next week for its "Battle for the Bell" with Ohio University. The Bobcats have won the last three meetings.

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Herd wants fourth-quarter effort against Rhode Island http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140904/DM03/140909582 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140904/DM03/140909582 Thu, 4 Sep 2014 23:00:41 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The Marshall football team doesn't want 15 minutes in its season opener to color its entire season, but the Thundering Herd does want to use it as a learning tool.

Cruising with a comfortable 25-point lead, the Herd watched Miami (Ohio) score 17 straight third-quarter points and make it a one-score game before Marshall pulled away with a 42-27 win. Herd coach Doc Holliday said after last Saturday's game and earlier this week that a team's biggest improvement comes between its first and second games, and Marshall will see if that theory holds in its home opener this Saturday versus Rhode Island.

"It's about getting better than we were last week," right tackle Clint Van Horn said. "That's what it comes down to. When you talk about that third quarter, that really left a bad taste in my mouth. I'm not the only one who wants to redeem himself.

"We want to see how much better we can get," he added. "I don't like the excuse of, 'Oh, that's the first game, opening game jitters.' There's no excuse for that. We really want to redeem ourselves and that's what the push is."

There was plenty to like about last week's win. Marshall's 42 points were the most any Football Bowl Subdivision team scored on the road in college football's opening week. Running back Devon Johnson rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns in his debut at the position. Quarterback Rakeem Cato stayed interception-free and threw for three touchdowns.

That third quarter, though, offered plenty of tangible evidence that it wouldn't always be easy. Marshall's opening drive of that quarter ended three plays in with a Deandre Reaves fumble. The RedHawks outgained the Herd 142-58, won time of possession 10:30 to 4:24 and gained eight first downs to Marshall's two. Marshall also failed to convert on all three of its third downs and its one fourth down, and a 28-3 lead became a 28-20 lead.

Part of Marshall's struggles might have come from dealing with the unknown. The RedHawks were debuting a new coaching staff and new quarterback Notre Dame graduate transfer Andrew Hendrix. The Herd will get another dose of that this week.

Rhode Island coach Jim Fleming, the former University of Central Florida defensive coordinator, will be coaching his first game for the Rams. His quarterback, redshirt freshman Mack Lowrie, is a Boston College transfer. His tailback, senior Lyle McCombs, is a Connecticut transfer who gained 2,681 yards in his Huskies career.

Offensive coordinator Bill Legg said quest to learn about Saturday's opponent hasn't been easy.

"Less than I knew about Miami," he said of the result.

Like last week in preparing for Miami, Marshall has mashed together film from many of the coaching staff's other stops. The offense watched Kent State film from when Fleming and defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis were there. It watched UCF film from Fleming's tenure as Knights defensive coordinator and Florida Atlantic film from when Rekstis was defensive coordinator there.

What made it tougher was Marshall's difficulty finding Rhode Island film to get a better idea of the Rams' personnel. With Miami, the Herd knew what they were getting for the most part, as they opened the 2013 season with the RedHawks. "But at the end of the day, it's about playing sound, fundamental football and understanding the concepts. We've seen every defense from our defense known to man. We're giving them every defense we could think of last week. We're again giving them every defense we can think of this week. We're just going to have to keep it sound and simple and figure it out on the run." Holliday thought the team did a pretty good job of getting things figured out. In last Saturday's fourth quarter, Marshall outgained Miami 124-59 and held the RedHawks to minus-4 yards rushing. That's the mark of a veteran group, he said.

"I thought our kids all hung together," he said. "The leadership on this team kind of held everything together and it wasn't a panic. We knew we were going to win this football game. It was just a matter of getting a couple of things corrected and find a way to win it there, and we did."

Those veterans, including redshirt junior Van Horn, are reinforcing the notion this week that there can be no letting up. The Herd got away with it versus Miami. The players don't want to see a repeat performance.

"I promise you," Van Horn said, "we'll never come out in the second half looking like that again."

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

Derek Redd: C-USA slate could get trickier for Marshall http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140903/DM03/140909702 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140903/DM03/140909702 Wed, 3 Sep 2014 22:11:07 -0400 CHARLESTON, W.Va. - For anyone who thought Marshall's 2014 season would be a straight-line march right into the Peach Bowl, the path might not be as clear and as open as originally thought. And it doesn't have to do with the Thundering Herd's 42-27 win over Miami (Ohio) in its season opener.

It has plenty to do with some of the other scores around Conference USA.

The University of Texas at San Antonio staked its claim as the favorite to win the West Division with a 27-7 thumping of Houston in the Cougars' brand spanking new stadium. And Western Kentucky showed how tough it will be to outscore the Hilltoppers by scorching Bowling Green, 59-31.

Many took notice of those results, including Marshall coach Doc Holliday, and he probably didn't even need the text message from C-USA senior associate commissioner Alfred White to pique his interest.

"UTSA was tremendous," Holliday said. "I think Houston was picked to win the (American Athletic Conference), opened up a new stadium and all the excitement, and they got their tails kicked.

"I thought Bowling Green had everybody back," he continued. "and was picked to win the (Mid-American Conference) by a lot of people, I think. And Western Kentucky just waxed them. Our conference is a good conference."

A good conference top to bottom? Eh, that might be stretching it a bit. C-USA went 0-5 against power conference opponents and lost those games by an average margin of more than 38 points. And then there's Florida International, who lost to Football Championship Subdivision foe Bethune-Cookman for the second straight year.

So the conference, at least in the first week, dealt with the same problems it often has - bad days versus tougher competition and the fact that the lower rungs of its football ladder are subterranean. Yet there are pockets of potential scattered throughout C-USA, and that's good news for Marshall in its quest for the first "Group of Five" berth in this season's marquee bowls.

The drawback that nearly everyone mentions in Marshall's season is a weak schedule. College football pundit Phil Steele loves the Herd's chances this season, picking it to play in the Fiesta Bowl. He's not a fan of Marshall's schedule strength, ranking it 125th out of 128. That's what happens when Marshall's 2014 date with Louisville gets pushed back to 2016 and the replacement is Rhode Island, an FCS team that's gone 6-28 in its last three seasons.

The antidote is a stouter conference slate and, at least early on, that wasn't looking good either. Then the Roadrunners shellacked an American title contender and WKU trounced the MAC favorite. Plus, there seem to be some opportunities for C-USA teams to perform well against some lower-level power conference teams.

Old Dominion visits a North Carolina State team that needed a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat Georgia Southern. Western Kentucky visits Illinois, who trailed FCS Youngstown State in the fourth quarter. Would beating either of those teams be like beating Alabama? Of course not, but wins there would help erase the notion that C-USA teams can't hang.

Plus, North Texas hosts American opponent Southern Methodist and, since the American is considered by many to be the strongest of the Group of Five conferences, C-USA needs as many wins against that conference as it can.

Now back to Marshall. Old Dominion and Western Kentucky are on the regular-season schedule. Marshall wouldn't face UTSA unless the two met in the conference title game. Wins against those squads, especially if they continue their strong runs out of the first week, could ease any doubts the selection committee would have with an undefeated Marshall compared to a one- or two-loss American team.

That being said, the road to that potential undefeated season looks a little bumpier than it did about two weeks ago.

Navigate those bumps, though, and the Herd has a better chance of getting what it wants come bowl season.

MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Rams' Bose tries to steady URI http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140903/DM03/140909706 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140903/DM03/140909706 Wed, 3 Sep 2014 22:06:13 -0400 By Derek Redd CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Entering his third year as a starter, Rhode Island linebacker Andrew Bose has seen plenty of ups and downs. He's had personal triumphs, being named to the 2013 all-Colonial Athletic Conference second team and this year's preseason all-CAA team. But those have been coupled with the Rams' overall struggles, as the team has gone 6-28 in his previous three seasons on the roster.

This season brings new opportunities with a new coaching staff - former University of Central Florida defensive coordinator Jim Fleming is the Rams' new head coach - and new players at key positions. Bose remains in his usual spot, though, and is ready to help the Rams transition into their new era Saturday, when they visit Marshall in the Thundering Herd's home opener and the Rams' season opener (7 p.m., WVAH).

"It's not only me, but a lot of other seniors who have been a part of the program," Bose said. "We expect guys to jump on board and get the memo of how things should work and how things should fall in place."

There are 10 seniors among the starting offensive and defensive rosters for Rhode Island, but none more decorated than Bose, the only Rams player on the preseason all-conference team. He earned that honor on the strength of his 76-tackle performance last season, even though he missed four games.

Included in that 2013 resume is a 17-tackle game in an overtime win versus Albany, after which he was named both CAA defensive player of the week and the Sports Network Football Championship Subdivision national defensive player of the week. Bose missed the first quarter of that game.

Offensively, Fleming is breaking in a new quarterback, Boston College transfer Mack Lowrie, and a new running back, Connecticut transfer Lyle McCombs, who has 2,681 career rushing yards with the Huskies. With the upheaval on offense, Fleming said its good to have a veteran like Bose on defense to keep things steady.

"It's nice to have a guy who's been through the wars that, if things get sideways, he can settle things down," Fleming said. "We've got a good corps of guys that are going to come in and play hard. But it's great to have a guy like Bose whose got the experience, got a little bit of swag, and can come in and settle us down when things get going badly."

The Rams already could look toward Bose's on-field performances for inspiration. He's 30 tackles shy from 200 for his career, and only two Rhode Island players, Matt Hansen and Virgil Gray, have reached that mark since 2002. Bose also is trying to bolster his leadership with what he says and how he says it, on top of what he does.

"I'd definitely say that, with me taking on a role as a leader of this football team, I've tried to become more vocal toward the team and be more communicative on the field and off the field and just always be that guy that people can look up to. We all hold each other to a high standard and are all counting on each other to do their jobs."

His job won't be easy this weekend. Marshall scored 42 points in its season-opening win at Miami (Ohio), the highest point total of any road team in the Football Bowl Subdivision last week. Now the Herd returns to Joan C. Edwards Stadium, where it went undefeated last season and averaged nearly 53 points a game in doing so.

Fleming said he'll especially need Bose this Saturday.

"He's going to have his hands full," he said. "There are going to be some matchup deals where he's going to have to play extremely well and handle his responsibilities. So we're counting on, from each of our guys, performance and execution."

While the Herd doesn't have much to go by in terms of background with Rhode Island - Marshall is cobbling together film of the coaching staff's previous stops, much like last week versus Miami - Bose doesn't think that element of surprise will completely stymie it. Marshall, he said, is too talented and experienced to let that happen.

"At the end of the day, whatver elements come and whatever happens, they're going to be ready to play, regardless of what's thrown at them," he said.

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Freshman Addison called into early OL duty http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140902/DM03/140909831 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140902/DM03/140909831 Tue, 2 Sep 2014 21:43:15 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - A.J. Addison's debut as a Marshall offensive lineman came at an unexpected point.

Starting left tackle Sebastian Johansson rolled his ankle in the second quarter of the Thundering Herd's 42-27 win over Miami (Ohio) and was out for the rest of the game. Then it was true freshman Addison's turn to work with the first team and, if he was nervous, starting right tackle Clint Van Horn didn't see it.

"He had a smile on his face and he was ready," Van Horn said. "He said he was nervous, but he came out there and played a heck of a game."

Addison's 43 snaps in the Herd's first game gave both him and the rest of the team confidence in his abilities if his number is called again this Saturday, when Marshall (1-0) hosts Rhode Island in the Herd's home opener (7 p.m., WCHS or WVAH).

"That's what I've been working all camp for and all of spring ball," Addison said. "Coach always told me, you never know when your number gets called. So that's why I've worked hard every day in practice, so when I do get called, I can step up big."

Though he's in his first season in a Marshall uniform, Addison enrolled in January after a semester at Fork Union Military Academy and had the benefit of a spring season. The spring was important, he said, because he ran a run-heavy Wing-T offense and had to learn pass-blocking principles pretty quickly.

His comfort level grew through the spring and the summer, though his body continued to shrink. He came to Fork Union from Fredricksburg (Va.) Christian High School weighing 335 pounds, slimmed down to 290 by the time he signed with the Herd and entered this season at 282 pounds.

"It's a big transition," Addison said. "It helped me out a lot, just coming through spring. It was hard at first. I wasn't used to it, but now I've started to get under my feet and started to move a little bit better."

Offensive line coach Alex Mirabal said he was a little concerned with how Addison would handle being thrust into the action so soon, but those concerns were quickly laid to rest. After a while, he didn't notice Addison was out there, which he said was a good thing.

"There was no drop-off in terms of the pass game or the run game," Mirabal said. "He's doing what he's supposed to be doing, and he's worked himself into a position where, with the next man up, if something happens at left tackle, he goes in.

Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said that, while Addison might be a freshman, he didn't play like one. Holliday remembers him having just one missed assignment in those 43 snaps.

"I thought he protected well and played extremely physical," he said. "Normally an offensive lineman can't go in and play like he played. But he loves to play and works extremely hard, and that's a tribute not just to him, but to Coach Mirabal, who got him ready to play."

Addison isn't the only youngster among the second-string offensive linemen. Of the five, four of them are either freshmen or redshirts freshmen. Only fifth-year senior Trevor Mendelson isn't a first-year player. Addison's performance served as evidence that Marshall's young linemen can step in when necessary, Van Horn said.

"I believe the young guys behind us can get it done," he said. "I firmly believe that. When they go in, you start to see these guys come into the game more and more. Coach Mirabal wants to see them play. I want to see them play. I'm excited to see them play, so I have faith in these guys, just as they have faith in me."

The consensus is that Addison served himself well as a young player called into duty long before he figured he would. He knows he can't plateau with this performance if he wants continue to see the field, but he's proud that he could help keep the offense going when called upon.

"I came in and had to do what I could do," he said. "I have a lot of stuff to improve on, technique-wise, but that's why I'm working every day and we're working every day to get that down pat."

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Herd addresses depth at corner http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140902/DM03/140909832 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140902/DM03/140909832 Tue, 2 Sep 2014 21:41:37 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall football coach Doc Holliday liked the depth of his defense in most spots in last Saturday's season-opening win over Miami (Ohio). He said it played a significant part in the Herd walking out with a 42-27 victory.

But he wasn't satisfied with it at every position, and as the Thundering Herd prepares for Saturday's home opener versus Rhode Island (7 p.m., WCHS or WVAH), he'll be working toward fortifying his depth at cornerback.

"We've got to come up with a couple of corners," Holliday said. "Darryl Roberts came up with an issue, playing 85 snaps at that corner position, so we need to try to find a couple of guys in that secondary that we can roll a little bit. We're not at that point yet with the secondary."

Roberts, who was third on the team with six tackles and broke up two passes versus the RedHawks, was hobbled by cramps during some points of the game. Plus, the Herd was without corner Keith Baxter, who sat out the Miami game with a hamstring injury. Holliday said they'll see whether Baxter returns this week, with the ultimate goal being his return at full strength in a couple of weeks.

Among the moves Holliday made was switching wide receiver Rodney Allen to corner. Allen, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound redshirt freshman from Dallas, Texas, did not catch a pass in Marshall's win over the RedHawks.

"He's a long guy that's extremely fast and tough," Holliday said. "We'll see how it goes. Corner is a position where they can play there pretty early. You got a guy out there, now go cover him. Then you teach technique and fundamentals, but there's not a whole lot of thinking out there."

One move that likely won't be made is giving freshman Antavis Rowe a dual job as corner and nickelback. Holliday said Rowe played 43 snaps at nickel versus Miami and wanted him to focus on his role there, much like Corey Tindal did on his way to sharing Conference USA freshman of the year honors.

"Kind of like with Tindal a year ago, you don't want to put too much on his plate," Holliday said. "You let him handle that one area right there, and if he can get to where he can handle that ... I didn't expect him to play 43 snaps (versus Miami), but that's the way the game played out and he did some good things."

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IN OTHER injury news, Holliday expects running back Steward Butler to play Saturday as long as the issue that necessitated an injection into his stomach doesn't flare up. He said starting left tackle Sebastian Johansson also should play after hurting his ankle on a screen pass last Saturday. If he can't, Holliday was happy how freshman A.J. Addison stepped in.

The Herd also will take a wait-and-see approach with kickoff specialist Amoreto Curraj. After limited practice in the preseason due to an unspecified injury, he was not on the travel roster for the Miami game. Redshirt freshman Kaare Vedvik assumed kickoff duties and booted three touchbacks.

"Anytime you go in there, you're concerned about those kickers," Holliday said, "but I think (Vedvik) went in there and kicked the ball well."

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RUNNING BACK Devon Johnson admitted he felt sore following Saturday's win, but it was a good kind of sore, one that comes from the heavy workload he's wanted since he arrived in Huntington. He got it versus Miami, carrying the ball 19 times for 151 yards and two touchdowns.

Now he has to learn how to conserve himself. As much as he loves rolling full steam ahead, Johnson understands that sidestepping a tackle might sometimes be more prudent than bowling him over.

"That's what I've got to learn and that's what I'm going to learn," he said. "There are going to be some plays you can go, and there'll be some plays, like fourth and 2, you'll have to put your head down, keep going and maybe score a touchdown at the end."

Johnson's powerful running style made Rhode Island coach Jim Fleming take notice.

"That dude's a beast, and he was able to right the ship when things were getting a little shaky," Fleming said. "That was a very noticeable deal and it was very interesting to see who was going to be carrying the rock. He's a guy we have to be concerned about."

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CAPTAINS FOR the Rhode Island game are a quartet of first-time selections - Johnson, tight end Eric Frohnapfel, safety A.J. Leggett and defensive end Arnold Blackmon. Frohnapfel caught five passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns, while Leggett led the team with 10 tackles and an interception and Blackmon recorded five tackles and a team-high two sacks. ... The opening ceremony for Marshall's new indoor athletic complex will be Saturday at 4 p.m. and is an invitation-only event. Doors will open at 3:30 p.m.

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Blackmon earns his keep as starting DE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140901/DM03/140909933 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140901/DM03/140909933 Mon, 1 Sep 2014 20:42:41 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Arnold Blackmon knew he would be one of Marshall's starting defensive ends when the football team opened its season at Miami (Ohio) this past Saturday. The evidence sat there in black and white, his name printed at the top of the depth chart.

Yet he admitted that the reality of the situation - that he had leaped from junior college transfer to backup to starter in one year - didn't hit him until a few minutes before kickoff versus the RedHawks.

"It was a tremendously overwhelming, powerful feeling," the senior said. "There's no way to really explain it. To have that feeling, that, wow, I'm actually a starter."

Blackmon did his best Saturday to show that he earned the job, collecting a pair of sacks in the Thundering Herd's 42-27 win over the RedHawks. He'll try to add to that this Saturday in the Herd's home opener versus Rhode Island. (7 p.m., WCHS or WVAH).

Those sacks came on Miami's last two offensive plays of the game. The RedHawks had gotten to their 38 when Blackmon brought down quarterback Andrew Hendrix for a 5-yard loss, then a 7-yard loss. Blackmon finished the game with five tackles in all and a pair of quarterback hurries. He's already doubled his sack total from last season.

His junior year wasn't as tough as he thought it would be in making the transition from Navarro Junior College to the Football Bowl Subdivision, but it still wasn't easy. The Bellaire, Texas native had to grow more comfortable with the Herd's defensive schemes and the increased speed of FBS football.

He said he received some invaluable advice from coaches and teammates. He deeply appreciated how the other defensive linemen took him under their wings and told him he just needed to persevere through the struggles.

"They said to just be patient," Blackmon said. "Patience, hard work and be diligent and consistent. The coaches can only go off what you show them. And I just had to continue to be consistent and patient with the coaches as well as myself and just strive to do better."

Sixth-year defensive lineman James Rouse said Blackmon's dedication to getting better was obvious. The preseason Conference USA defensive player of the year told Blackmon over the summer that he'd get back whatever work he put into it, and he watched as Blackmon did extra work in the weight room and elsewhere.

"You have full trust in him when you're out there on the field," Rouse said. "You know he's going to do what he needs to do, so you're able to do what you need to do.

Blackmon also credited Marshall's strength and conditioning coaches with his physical growth since he arrived on campus. He left Bellaire High weighing about 218 pounds and left Navarro at 229, but a full year at Marshall has allowed him to grow to 242 pounds.

That growth also helped him psychologically.

"Honestly, it's really helped my confidence, being able to have that mindset of, if I can do such-and-such in the weight room, on the field, I can use that strength," he said. "I can use that extra edge, that extra weight and be able to stay on blocks and set an edge like I do. The weight has definitely helped."

Right now, Blackmon is tied with four others for second in C-USA in sacks. He's also tied with an army of others for fourth in the FBS. It's a good start, but Blackmon doesn't want his first start to be the only time he'll shine.

"I feel as though I made it, but you want to do so much more," he said. "You want to prove to the coaches that you belong there and that spot was yours because you earned it, not because they gave it to you."

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Frohnapfel steps up where Hoskins left off http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839872 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839872 Sun, 31 Aug 2014 21:56:02 -0400 By Derek Redd OXFORD, Ohio - Marshall's tight ends seem to have a knack for the end zone, no matter who is lining up at that spot.

The previous two seasons saw Gator Hoskins, who just made the Miami Dolphins' 53-man roster as a rookie free agent, lead the team in touchdown catches. New Thundering Herd starter Eric Frohnapfel kept the tradition going in Marshall's season-opening 42-27 win over Miami (Ohio), catching a pair of touchdowns.

"That's the opportunity we get as tight ends," Frohnapfel said. "Obviously Gator did that a lot last year, and I'm trying to fill that role. Those two plays were plays that Gator caught a lot of touchdowns on, so hopefully I can continue to fill that role this year."

On his first score from Miami's 11, he lined up close to right tackle Clint Van Horn, sprinted off the line and curled into the end zone, laying out for Cato's throw. The second was a 1-yarder that Frohnapfel snagged in traffic. It was the senior's first two-touchdown game, but not an uncommon occurrence among Marshall's tight ends. Hoskins had four games with at least two touchdown catches last season.

Another catch didn't score, but was crucial to Marshall's win. On the Herd's final scoring drive, the team faced third and 7 at its own 38. Cato zipped a pass across the middle to Frohnapfel for a 29-yard gain. Frohnapfel finished the day with five catches for 54 yards, both team highs.

"The way camp went and preseason practice, I sort of thought I developed myself as that guy, that I could sort of do the same stuff that Gator did," he said.

That is Marshall coach Doc Holliday's hope, that the offense can transition from Hoskins to Frohnapfel with little-to-no drop-off. Holliday thought Saturday was a good start.

"He's a guy we feel can make plays in the red zone, and he needs to do that," Holliday said.

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THE HERD'S defense didn't have the dominant day versus the RedHawks that it did in last season's opener, but it came up with some big stops when Marshall needed them.

Marshall allowed just 239 yards of total offense, and just 165 yards passing, in last year's blowout. New Miami quarterback Andrew Hendrix, a graduate transfer from Notre Dame, attacked the Herd for 318 passing yards and three touchdowns on 24-of-49 passing. Yet there were plenty of opportunities where Miami couldn't succeed.

The RedHawks converted just five of 19 third downs and one of five fourth downs. One of those fourth-down stops came at the end of the first half. Miami had gotten down to the Herd 1 and on the half's final play, Hendrix tossed a pass to Frazier that corner Darryl Roberts swatted away, leaving Miami to walk into its locker room down 28-3.

"I thought that play at the end of the half was huge," Holliday said. "It was fourth down at the end of the half and I thought that was the biggest play of the game, to be honest. It was a great play by (Roberts)."

The Herd defense gave up 418 yards of offense, but sacked Hendrix four times, hurried him seven times, broke up four passes and intercepted him once. That pick came in the third quarter when Hendrix through a pass right into safety A.J. Leggett's bread basket.

Holliday said Marshall's defensive depth was a big help.

"The thing is, we have a lot of players," he said. "We rolled a lot of guys in and out. I thought our defense, we gave up some big plays we don't normally give up, but we'll make those plays."

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DEPTH BECAME crucial at several positions Saturday, as several key players were not in pads. Kickoff specialist Amoreto Curraj, limited by an unspecified injury all preseason, did not make the trip to Oxford. Kaare Vedvik handled kickoff duties and booted three touchbacks. Running back Steward Butler and corner Keith Baxter were with the team, but in street clothes. Holliday said Butler got "a shot in his stomach" and Baxter was dealing with a hamstring injury, and he hoped both would be available for Saturday's home opener versus Rhode Island.

Starting left tackle Sebastian Johansson injured his ankle and spent part of the game in a protective boot. Freshman A.J. Addison came into the game in Johansson's place. Addison wasn't the only true freshman making his debut Saturday. Defensive back Antavis Roe and tight end Ryan Yurachek also played.

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CATO'S FIRST touchdown to Frohnapfel extended his streak of games with a touchdown pass to 33, the longest active streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The record is 38 straight by former North Carolina State and Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson from 2009-11. His three touchdowns gave him 61 career red zone touchdown passes against just one interception.

The senior finished the day with 261 yards on 20 of 32 passing and stayed interception free.

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Johnson makes early impact at new position http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839873 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839873 Sun, 31 Aug 2014 21:55:56 -0400 By Derek Redd OXFORD, Ohio - The fans at Yager Stadium watched Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato scramble in for a 2-yard touchdown, setting the final score in the Thundering Herd's 42-27 win over Miami (Ohio). There were a few guys who didn't, though, and that part of the play might have been just as important.

The Cato run was a read-option, where he could choose to give the ball to tailback Devon Johnson or pull out the ball and keep it himself. He chose the latter, but the Miami defense engulfed Johnson because it wasn't about to let the former succeed.

"I remember there was, like, six of them that dove on me," Johnson said. "I'd seen them all coming, so I figured Cato was going to pull it, and Cato's a great quarterback and made a great decision."

That's the amount of respect that the first-time college tailback gained after a little less than four quarters Saturday, earned through a 151-yard, two touchdown performance.

"It felt great," Johnson said. "It felt like I did my job, that the defense was thinking I was getting the ball."

Marshall gave them plenty of reasons to expect it. In his debut as the Herd's primary ball-carrier, the junior carried 19 times and was stopped behind the line of scrimmage just once, a loss of one yard on the drive that ended in Cato's touchdown run.

That was among the reasons that Marshall coach Doc Holliday moved the former fullback, linebacker and tight end moved to tailback. His 6-foot-1, 243-pound frame makes him tough to knock backward, which made him the top option as both a runner and blocker.

"He's, overall, a really good player," Holliday said. "He gives us that physical presence and he brings that attitude back there that we need."

The Herd needed it most, and got it, about halfway through the fourth quarter. The RedHawks cut a 28-3 deficit to 28-20 by scoring 17 straight third-quarter points. New Miami quarterback Andrew Hendrix, who followed new coach Chuck Martin from Notre Dame, threw a pair of touchdowns and 24-yard Kaleb Patterson field goal.

Marshall's first two drives of the fourth quarter ended in a punt and a fourth-down stop. The Herd was facing fourth down again after Remi Watson was stopped two yards short of the marker. On fourth and 2 from the Miami 27, Marshall brought Johnson back into the game. He burst through the middle of the defense and barreled into the end zone.

Johnson said the play originally was designed to go to the left, but Cato pointed out a weakness in the defense, which spurred him to bounce to the right and into the end zone.

"The game was getting close," Johnson said. "We needed a spark, so I wanted to be that spark, to help the team and make sure we get a win. I saw the hole, hit it hard and I knew we needed a play, so I just kept my feet moving."

Holliday said Tuesday that it wasn't just him that liked Johnson in the backfield. Cato enjoyed it, too, having a back of his size and blocking ability beside him. He said after Saturday's game Johnson looked at home in his new spot.

"He was huge," Cato said. "The small yards and all the big gains he had, he did what we had to do. Coach Holliday preached all week to do your job. And he did his job at a 100-percent level."

Marshall had a tougher time with the RedHawks this season as opposed to last season. Their 2013 game ended in a 52-14 runaway Herd win. Miami kept it closer Saturday, but Johnson's strong running in the fourth quarter helped hold the RedHawks at bay.

"We knew there was going to be adversity in this game, but we kept calm," Johnson said. "Like Coach Holliday said, in the second half, they were going to come back and give us a fight. They ain't going to lay down. We fought, too, and pulled a win out in the end."

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

MARSHALL VOLLEYBALL: Herd drops one at home to Virginia http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839875 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839875 Sun, 31 Aug 2014 21:44:30 -0400 HUNTINGTON - Marshall volleyball concluded its home opener weekend with a 3-0 loss to Virginia, but pressured the Cavaliers all match, falling in scores of 27-25, 25-20, and 28-26.

Junior middle blocker Jillian Shemanski (Jupiter, Fla.) continued to be a force at the net, picking up seven total blocks during the match in addition to five kills. Shemanski was awarded All-Tournament honors, recording 20 blocks on the weekend.

Marshall will travel to face Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday before heading to Mount Pleasant, Mich., for the CMU Tournament next weekend.

MARSHALL SOCCER: Cleveland State knocks off Herd http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839876 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839876 Sun, 31 Aug 2014 21:39:30 -0400 HUNTINGTON - The Marshall men's soccer team dropped its second regular season game with a 2-0 loss to Cleveland State on Sunday. Goals by Kareem Banton and a free kick goal by Hesham Hammouda set up the win for the Vikings.

Marshall and Cleveland State entered the second half scoreless, but things changed in the 60th minute, when Hammouda fired in a cross from the near sideline that found an open Banton. Banton struck the ball with the outside of his foot, which sent the ball rocketing past the near post of Marshall goalkeeper Bijan Gloston.

In the 85th minute, Gloston received a red card from a foul just outside of his 18-yard box, which sent in Herd freshman Goalkeeper Dominik Reining. The first kick Reining saw was a free kick, which was scored by Hammouda at the near post.

The closest the Herd came to scoring was in the 83rd minute, when a Nick Edginton header was saved at the last second by Vikings goalkeeper Nick Ciraldo.

MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Herd pulls away from RedHawks, 42-27, to win season opener http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140830/DM03/140839914 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140830/DM03/140839914 Sat, 30 Aug 2014 20:48:55 -0400 By Derek Redd OXFORD, Ohio - Marshall's football team found out Saturday that the road to potential undefeated season could get slippery.

Leading by as many as three touchdowns in the first half, the Thundering Herd watched Miami (Ohio) make it an eight-point game deep into the fourth quarter before pulling out a 42-27 win Saturday at Yager Stadium.

The final margin came when quarterback Rakeem Cato, who already had thrown three touchdowns, scrambled for a 2-yard score with 2:01 left in the game. The Herd (1-0) converted three third downs on that 11-play drive, its longest of the afternoon.

Saturday's win had a much different look than last year's season-opening win over the RedHawks (0-1). Then, the Herd turned a 14-14 halftime tie into a 52-14 breeze. But Marshall coach Doc Holliday said Saturday that beauty wasn't necessary, and he liked how the team responded in the fourth quarter.

"You know what? It's a win, guys," he said. "You go on the road and beat a football team and you get back on the bus and go home and get ready for next week."

For a while, it looked like this season's win would be easier than last season's. Marshall's quick-strike offense overwhelmed the RedHawks and put the Herd ahead, 21-0, with 14:11 left in the second quarter. None of the three scoring drives lasted longer than 1:57 and two lasted 46 seconds or shorter. But Marshall started to sputter later in the second and into the third, as Miami finally got rolling.

After scoring three touchdowns in a little over 15 minutes, Marshall could muster just one - a 2-yard Devon Johnson run with 3:10 left in the first half - until midway through the fourth. Meanwhile, Miami quarterback Andrew Hendrix went to work and led the RedHawks on four second-half scoring drives, throwing three touchdown passes.

"He didn't surprise us," Holliday said. "That kid is a heavily recruited player. If you've got a quarterback that can make the throws he makes, you're going to make some plays."

Marshall finally halted Miami's momentum on a fourth-quarter, fourth-down gamble. On fourth and 2 at Miami's 27, Cato gave the ball to Johnson and the 243-pound junior burst through the middle of the RedHawks defense for his second touchdown of the game. It was the only fourth down the Herd converted in three tries Saturday.

Johnson - who had bounced from fullback to linebacker to tight end before winning the starting tailback job after just three weeks of practicing there - finished the night with 151 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. He was stopped behind the line of scrimmage just once.

"I didn't think I had 150 (yards)," Johnson said. "When they told me I had 150, I was shocked. That surprised me."

Cato, a senior who has received some Heisman Trophy buzz entering the season, completed 20 of 32 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns. Two went to tight end Eric Frohnapfel, who finished with a team-high five catches for 54 yards. Among his most important grabs was the 29-yarder on Marshall's final scoring drive that allowed the Herd to convert on third and 7.

Hendrix, a graduate transfer who followed new RedHawks coach Chuck Martin from Notre Dame, completed 24 of 49 passes for 318 yards, three touchdowns and an interception to Herd safety A.J. Leggett. He also added 46 rushing yards.

Marshall has many eyes upon it this season, as most experts made them the runaway favorite to win the Conference USA title and several predicted they'd represent the Football Bowl Subdivision's five smaller conferences in one of the major bowl games. It wasn't easy to tag a 17th game to Miami's losing streak, the longest current streak in the FBS. But Cato said that winning, no matter how it looked, was most important and that his team handled a tough test well.

"I think the whole sideline, not only the offense but the defense, kept their composure," Cato said. "We knew we were going to have adversity and I think we responded great to that adversity. As long as we keep improving every day, we'll get better."

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.