www.charlestondailymail.com Marshall Sports http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2014, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Derek Redd: Slay's next step - help young basketball players http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140924/DM03/140929615 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140924/DM03/140929615 Wed, 24 Sep 2014 16:34:19 -0400 Tamar Slay was done playing basketball.

It wasn't an easy decision to come by, especially since the sport has provided him with so much. Because of basketball, the kid who grew up in Beckley and starred for Woodrow Wilson High School played in the NBA with the New Jersey Nets and Charlotte Bobcats. He got to travel the world, with stops in Israel and Italy.

But the former all-Mid-American Conference first-teamer and newly minted Marshall Athletic Hall of Famer realized that, while playing professional basketball was a great living, the money wasn't enough to haul himself across the Atlantic Ocean another year.

Yet, while he might be done playing basketball, he knew he wasn't done with basketball as a whole. His focus has shifted. He now wants to share his passion for the sport with the youth of his home state, one with a rich hoops history.

Slay, the sixth-leading scorer in Thundering Herd history at 1,792 points, originally planned on playing two more years in the pros. Returning home and his experience working his basketball camps changed his mind.

"I immediately got into doing my basketball camps, and I immediately got into training younger kids," he said. "And I freaking fell in love with it.

"I was telling my wife, 'I think I'm just going to retire,'" he said. "And she was like, 'No you're not.' And then one day I just decided this is what I want to do right now. This is where my passion is. It's always been, with whatever I do, I put my heart and soul into it."

Slay attended the NBA Players Association Leadership Program this past summer, which helps former NBA players explore the chances of working in management. He's also spent the last two years working at the NBA Players Association's Top 100 high school camp.

At that camp, he learned how much he enjoyed working with young players, the way they took to instruction and how he could see them evolve with each lesson. And he wants to see that evolution among young basketball players in West Virginia.

Though a relatively small state tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains, West Virginia has a strong list of pro players, from Charleston's "Hot Rod" Hundley to East Bank's Jerry West to Mullens' Mike D'Antoni to Greenbrier East's Bimbo Coles to DuPont's Jason Williams to Slay. And Slay said there's no reason that the list of the Mountain State's professional alumni shouldn't grow.

"This is where I'm from," Slay said. "I'm West Virginia all day. The main reason is there should be more NBA players coming out of West Virginia. I had 20 years of basketball experience. I played all over the world. So I think it's my duty to come back and help as many kids as I can, to inspire them so that they might also be a pro one day."

Slay wants to help in that process through a combination of youth camps and tournaments. He's planning on holding between four and eight camps a year. He's also scouting locations to hold tournaments, hoping for one or two events each in Beckley, Charleston and Huntington and perhaps putting something together in Morgantown.

Slay said his new venture is coming together in its nascent stages better than he had ever imagined, so well that he's moving forward anxiety-free.

"I wouldn't say I'm nervous," he said. "I'm excited. I'm ready for the challenge."

And a challenge it may be. It's one thing to work for someone else, as Slay did all over the globe as a pro player. Now he's running the show, transforming from employee to entrepreneur in a competitive industry. There are plenty of tournaments and plenty of camps in plenty of places, and his first job will be to make his stand out.

Slay feels that his renewed passion, and the drive that comes with it, will power him into this new chapter of his life.

"My motto has always been 'Outwork you,'" Slay said. "I'm looking at the top guy in the game right now and I'm trying to outwork him. I feel if I can do that, I'll be successful."

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Rowe makes surprising early impact http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140923/DM03/140929696 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140923/DM03/140929696 Tue, 23 Sep 2014 17:28:12 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON - Marshall freshman defensive back Antavis Rowe quickly has become an integral part of the Thundering Herd football team's secondary. Herd coach Doc Holliday just didn't think he'd be this integral this soon.

"He played almost a hundred snaps on Saturday," Holliday said. "He played more than anybody else on the team."

Adding to the surprise was the fact that, when Rowe arrived in Huntington in the summer, Holliday wondered if he'd contribute this season at all. Yet Rowe realized he needed to improve, did so over the summer break and became a dependable member of Marshall's defense.

The prospects of that when Rowe arrived weren't rosy.

"When he first got here," Holliday said, "I didn't think he'd play a snap for us."

His transition to college life was a bit bumpy.

Plus, Holliday felt his conditioning was lacking.

"He was in such bad shape when he got here, he had a hard time getting through our workouts the first couple weeks. He figured he had to come back in pretty good shape and he came back in better shape."

Rowe could tell in June that he wasn't up to snuff. He returned home to Atlanta, Ga., where he was an honorable mention Class AAAA running back at Washington High, determined to come back to Marshall a better player.

"My dad got me a personal trainer," Rowe said. "I went home and worked every day. I got back up here to camp and I refused to be denied. With the expectations and knowing how far we could go this year, I just wanted to be part of that success."

Rowe has played every game, on special teams and at the nickelback spot. He's recorded nine tackles, including one for a loss, with a pass breakup and a fumble recovery.

"He came back in the fall and surprised me," Holliday said. "I didn't think he was nearly as tough as he is. He's still got a long ways to go, but he's a very, very talented kid that is going to be a really good player for us."

Rowe said he's gotten plenty of help working at the nickel from the Herd's former nickelback, Corey Tindal. Tindal, who shared Conference USA freshman of the year honors at that spot, moved to corner this season, in part because Rowe is able to step into his place.

"Out of 100 percent, 80," Rowe said of how much Tindal's guidance has helped. "Out on the field, Corey Tindal's still helping me, giving me the calls when I don't get it. Having him out there is just like having Coach Heater there on the field. I'm blessed to have Corey Tindal."

n n n

WHAT HOLLIDAY likes most in his Herd's 4-0 start is how physical the team has played so far. That's contributed to Marshall's average margin of victory of 29.3 points. That's the sixth-best margin in the Football Bowl Subdivision and the best among Group of Five schools.

"You turn that film on and watch them and they're physical," Holliday said. "They get after it. They love playing and they play extremely hard."

On the flip side, Holliday said the team will spend plenty of time cutting down on penalties. Marshall is one of the FBS' most-flagged teams, tied with three other teams for last in the FBS with 11 penalties per game and next to last in penalty yards per game at 102.5 yards. The Herd committed a school-record-tying 18 penalties for a school-record 188 yards against Akron.

"I didn't realize we had that many until we were on the bus (after the game)," center Chris Jasperse said. "I looked at the stats and I was like, 'What?'"

Holliday said those were records that didn't need broken and he doesn't even want to come near them the rest of the season.

"Some of those we can control, like the offsides," Holliday said. "And some of that's on us (the coaches). About every one of those offside penalties defensively was when we were in a blitz situation. We probably hadn't worked enough hard counts with the linebackers in a blitz situation. Some of those are judgment calls, but the rest of them, we have to improve in that area, and we will."

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MARSHALL SENT seven coaches out on the recruiting trail this week, hitting their usual hotbeds like Florida and will visit some local schools as well.

Holliday said the Herd's recruiting is almost done and much of the coaches' travels are to visit those already verbally committed. According to the Rivals.com website covering Marshall, the Herd has 14 verbal commitments.

That doesn't mean they won't stop looking.

"If there's a really good player out there, I haven't been able to turn a whole lot of really good players down," Holliday said.

Success has bred familiarity among recruits, Holliday said. It hasn't just been the Military Bowl win from last season and the red-hot start to this season. Recruiting also has gotten a boost from the new Cline Athletic Complex being built next to Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

"We're going to have as nice of facilities as anyone in the country," Holliday said. "But, also, kids like to go somewhere where they're winning. They like the style we play on offense. If you're a wideout, quarterback or skill guy, you want to play in our offense. Defensively, it's the same deal.

"They like our style of play," he added. "They like winning and add the facilities to that, it's going to help our recruiting. It already has."

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LAST YEAR'S recruiting haul already is helping on the field, Holliday said. Eight true freshmen have recorded a carry, caught a pass, returned a punt or made a tackle.

"I don't think I've ever had this many freshmen," Holliday said. "We felt we had a pretty good football team coming back, but there's seven or eight freshmen that have actually contributed and done a good job for us. And that's surprising because of the kind of players we had coming back."

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.

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Undefeated Herd sees plenty of room for improvement http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140922/DM03/140929782 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140922/DM03/140929782 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 21:06:10 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall University's football team is 4-0 for the first time since the Thundering Herd's undefeated 1999 season, beating its first four opponents by an average of more than 29 points.

The off week often is a team's opportunity to look inward for a while rather than focus solely on the next opponent. So where can an undefeated Herd work to get better?

According to the players, plenty of places.

"We aren't overlooking anything," outside linebacker D.J. Hunter said. "We feel we can get better at everything we do. We're never just going to be, we're good at this, and just stop working on it."

Marshall players said this week will be their chance to analyze themselves and find whatever flaws, whether glaring or tiny, that are there.

That self-analysis goes a little bit easier after a run of success like Marshall has seen through its first four games, center Chris Jasperse said. The fifth-year senior likened this week's atmosphere to that right after Marshall's Military Bowl win over Maryland.

"Everybody's up and ready to work and just get after it again," Jasperse said. "It brings good vibes to the team, and we're just trying to work hard."

The Herd will spend plenty of time on the finer aspects of their respective roles. Jasperse and sixth-year defensive tackle James Rouse said they'll take a look at components like their footwork and hand placement.

"We go back to fundamentals all the time on bye weeks and improve on the little things," Rouse said. "You get back to fundamentals - your footwork and your technique - and that helps out a lot."

Jasperse said that matter of inches in where a lineman places his hands or a running back sets up to block a blitzing defender could make the difference in several yards positive or negative in the long run.

"That can make an average play into a great play," he said.

Focusing on little things could eliminate the mistakes that led to record-setting penalty totals in the Herd's 48-17 win at Akron. Marshall was flagged 20 times for 188 yards in that game. The 20 penalties tied a team record and the 188 yards broke the previous team worst of 180. Those flags are the boldest black mark against Marshall this year.

The Herd is tied with three other teams for last in the Football Bowl Subdivision at 11 penalties per game and ahead of only BYU in the FBS in penalty yards per game. Marshall racks up 102.5 yards per contest.

"We saw that and I thought that was a typo at first," Jasperse said. "That's just stuff we have to clean up."

The week also allows Marshall's younger defenders the opportunity to learn how to better mirror their veteran counterparts. The Herd's starting defense has been nearly impossible to penetrate. Marshall has not yet allowed a first half touchdown this season, giving up a field goal each to Miami (Ohio) and Akron.

Yet when the starters give way to their young reserves in the waning minutes of the game, the unit loses some of its stinginess. Akron scored a pair of touchdowns in the final 8:33 of Saturday's game.

"This is the time where young guys get a lot of practice," Rouse said. "It's good for them to be able to get that game experience and make those mistakes when it didn't hurt us. They can take those mistakes, learn from them in the bye week and get better."

Marshall doesn't have an opponent to prepare for at the end of this week, but the players aren't about to call it a break. They say they'll work just as intensely as a normal game week, because that's what allowed them to reach the bye week without a loss.

"Just because we've got a bye week, that don't mean nothing," Hunter said. "There's not going to be a fall-back. The coaches won't let us fall back. We're going to keep going."

n n n

MARSHALL ANNOUNCED on Monday its game time and network for its Oct. 4 game at Old Dominion. Kickoff between the Herd and Monarchs is scheduled for noon on Fox Sports Net.

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.

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Herd's confidence grows after blowout win at Akron (Video) http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140921/DM03/140929872 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140921/DM03/140929872 Sun, 21 Sep 2014 21:39:59 -0400 By Derek Redd AKRON, Ohio - Marshall's football team walked off the field Saturday evening at InfoCision Stadium under what has become familiar circumstances.

The Thundering Herd bulldozed its way to a commanding lead, this time over the Akron Zips, and finished with a 48-17 win to reach 4-0 for the first time since Marshall's undefeated 1999 season.

The players emerged from the locker room and headed toward the team bus, their confidence bolstered even further.

"We feel like we can play with anybody," senior receiver Tommy Shuler said.

That confidence has carried throughout the season's first four games and has been a crucial component to the Herd's overpowering performances.

Here's how well the first third of the regular season has gone for the Herd:

n Marshall is the only team in the Football Bowl Subdivision to score at least 40 points in each of its first four games. Oregon was the only team that could match that feat, and the Ducks scored 38 on Saturday in a win over Washington State.

n This is the first time the Herd has opened with four straight 40-plus-point games since 1938 under then-coach Cam Henderson. That year, Marshall beat Carson-Newman, 44-0, Ohio Wesleyan, 62-0, Miami (Ohio), 41-0, and Oklahoma City, 66-0, to start the season.

n Marshall has outscored its opponents 55-0 in the first quarter and 103-6 in the first half. The Herd has not yet allowed a first-half touchdown, and Zips running back Manny Morgan's fourth-quarter touchdown run was the first rushing touchdown the Herd has allowed this season. And Akron had its chances, driving inside Marshall's 15 three times in the second quarter and coming away with a field goal, an end-zone interception and a fumble.

n Marshall is fourth in the FBS in yards per game (596.8) and yards per play (7.85). It is 15th in scoring defense (16.3 points per game) and tied with Penn State for 16th in the FBS in yards allowed per play (4.42).

n The Herd's average margin of victory is 29.3 points. Marshall held a 28-3 lead over Miami (Ohio) before winning 42-27, beat Rhode Island 48-7, led Ohio 41-0 before winning 44-14 and led Akron 41-3.

Some wondered whether, after such a decisive win over rival Ohio, Marshall would get caught still basking in the glow of that victory. Instead, the Herd gave a near-carbon-copy performance of the Bobcats blowout.

"We challenged our kids about being physical and being a complete team and being the best football team on the field, like we were a week ago," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. "I think we did that, coming on the road, playing as physical as we did and dominating that first half like we did, I'm proud of them."

What has changed in this team even from last year, when the Herd won 10 games for the first time since 2002 and beat Maryland in the Military Bowl? Linebacker Evan McKelvey said the players are even closer this year than last. Even during the success of 2013, he said there remained a couple of pockets of players more interested in individual glory. In 2014, they don't care how the victory is achieved.

So if the Marshall offense sputters to start the game, as it did against Rhode Island, it trusts the defense will remain stingy. If Cato has a relatively quiet day - he threw for 210 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 17-of-31 passing versus the Zips - the running game can compensate with 284 rushing yards and 7.5 yards a carry.

The players also credit the practice week and the workman's atmosphere Marshall's coaches create.

"It starts with the coaches," safety A.J. Leggett said. "The coaches do a great job of getting the game plans right and installing things that will help us win. We see them with their confidence and that rubs off on us."

And the intensity of those practices keep the players on their toes, Shuler said.

"We're a tough team and we love to play ball," Shuler said. "We come out and go against each other in practice. We go against each other every day, so when we do get another opponent, we get it all together and take it out on them."

Now the Herd has a bye week before its Conference USA opener at conference rookie Old Dominion, which beat defending C-USA champion Rice, 45-42, on Saturday. Leggett won't call it a break. He said the team won't let up in practice just because there's no Saturday opponent. That tenacity, McKelvey said, will fuel Marshall for the next two weeks and beyond.

"We know how hard we worked to get here," linebacker Evan McKelvey said. "We just refuse to lose. We have that mindset that we shouldn't lose to anybody because we've worked too hard."

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.

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Herd's Leggett makes big plays in return from injury http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140921/DM03/140929874 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140921/DM03/140929874 Sun, 21 Sep 2014 21:35:49 -0400 By Derek Redd AKRON, Ohio - A.J. Leggett doesn't do very well as a spectator.

The redshirt sophomore safety didn't join Marshall's football team to watch. He did plenty of that sitting the 2012 season after shoulder surgery. So Leggett was understandably anxious to return to the field Saturday after two weeks sidelined, and he celebrated his return with two of the biggest defensive plays in the Thundering Herd's 48-17 win over Akron.

After taking a hard shot against Miami (Ohio), Leggett didn't dress for the Rhode Island game, then did dress but didn't play against Ohio. He didn't start versus Akron, but didn't sit long.

"I was just excited to get out there with those guys," Leggett said. "I've been missing them for two weeks. I'm just happy to get out there and make plays for my team."

His first big play came late in the first quarter when he deflected a Kyle Pohl pass that fellow safety Tiquan Lang grabbed out of the air for an interception. Leggett got an interception of his own in the second quarter.

After Akron intercepted Rakeem Cato at the Herd 36, the Zips drove to Marshall's 4-yard line. On fourth and goal, Pohl threw a pass into the end zone and into Leggett's hands. Leggett credited a teammate for the opportunity.

"Corey Tindal was the general out there," Leggett said. "He was coaching me up. I missed a call and Corey Tindal got me together. He put me in the right place and I just made the play on the ball."

With Leggett's help, Marshall recorded the first two picks Pohl has thrown this season. The Herd also held Pohl to more than 100 passing yards below his average. He tossed 258 yards per game entering Saturday, and threw for just 151 yards on 17-of-31 passing against the Herd.

"Getting (Leggett) back was huge," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. "He hadn't practiced much. We didn't feel he had practiced enough to play against Ohio University and he had a great week of practice this week. That's why he went in and he played well."

n n n

THE HERD'S defense, especially its first team, was quite stout in the red zone. Akron had three red-zone chances in the second quarter and ended them in a field goal, an interception and a fumble. The Zips went 2 for 4 in the red zone the entire game.

"We just hate when people score," linebacker Evan McKelvey said. "We just don't like it when people score on us. It doesn't matter if it's on the 2-yard line. We just don't like letting people score."

That shows in the statistics. Marshall is 15th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in allowing 16.3 points per game. It's tied with Louisville and Boise State for 24th in red-zone conversions (69.23 percent) and tied with Boise State and Washington for 30th in the FBS in percentage of red-zone conversions for touchdowns (46.15).

n n n

ADD REDSHIRT junior Remi Watson to the list of 100-yard running backs for the Herd. He recorded his first game in a Marshall uniform over the century mark with 124 yards on nine carries. Eighty of those yards came on Watson's second-quarter touchdown run, the longest run from scrimmage since Darius Marshall's 80-yarder in 2009.

"Patience," Watson said of that scoring run. "Patience, that's all (running back coach Chris Barclay) says. Patience and press your landmark. You can't force those plays. Just through the course of the game, when it comes and you feel it, it's just a feeling you get in your body. I was like run, just run, and after that, nobody was stopping me from getting to the end zone."

Marshall had a pair of 100-yard rushers versus the Zips. Junior Devon Johnson recorded his third 100-yard game of the season with 103 yards on 18 carries. One of last week's 100-yard rushers, redshirt junior Steward Butler, did not play a down versus Akron. Holliday said he "didn't like the way he practiced" leading up to the game.

That allowed freshman Brandon Byrd to get in and run for 43 yards and a 19-yard touchdown on four carries. Quarterback Rakeem Cato got into the act, too, with a pair of rushing touchdowns. He still was able to move ahead of Byron Leftwich for No. 2 in team history in career completions. After 17 completions versus Akron, Cato has completed 955 career passes. Chad Pennington tops the career list with 1,026.

n n n

ONE GAUDY NUMBER that disappointed Holliday was Marshall's penalty total. The Herd was flagged 20 times for 188 yards. The penalty total tied the single-game school record set in 1931. The yardage total broke the old record of 180 set in 1969.

"I'm anxious to see the tape," Holliday said. "I don't know, I'm anxious to see that film. I don't know if I've ever coached a team with 20 penalties. If we're being coached that bad, that's on me, and I have to get that corrected."

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.

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Herd streaks past Zips in 48-17 win (Video) http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140920/DM03/140929921 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140920/DM03/140929921 Sat, 20 Sep 2014 19:17:52 -0400 By Derek Redd AKRON, Ohio - The Marshall football team's Mid-American Conference mini-tour ended with a perfect record.

The Thundering Herd scored the first 24 points of the game and its defense got stingy in the red zone as Marshall rolled to a 48-17 win Saturday over Akron at InfoCision Stadium. The Herd enters its first bye week at 4-0 for the first time since its undefeated 1999 season.

The Herd has scored at least 40 points in its first four games for the first time since 1938 under Cam Henderson. Three of their wins have come versus MAC foes - Miami (Ohio), Ohio and the Zips.

"We challenged our kids about being physical and being a complete team and being the best football team on the field, like we were a week ago," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. "I think we did that, coming on the road, playing as physical as we did and dominating that first half like we did, I'm proud of them."

That initial 24-point burst came in the game's first 15:08. Cato struck first with his feet, juking an Akron defender and jogging in for an 11-yard score. After a 35-yard Justin Haig field goal, Cato hit Angelo Jean-Louis for a 24-yard touchdown pass. Devon Johnson finished the streak by plowing through several arm tackles on fourth and 1 for a 22-yard touchdown.

Cato had a quiet game through the air. He completed 17 of 31 passes for 210 yards, a touchdown and an interception before being pulled early in the fourth quarter for backup Gunnar Holcombe. He did score a pair of touchdowns on the ground, the second coming on a 13-yard run with 12:42 left in the third.

The senior quarterback said that, even if he doesn't have the gaudy performance like last week's 425-yard, four-touchdown day, he's comfortable in the knowledge that others will have those standout games to make up for it.

"I just think it comes from preparing every day in practice," Cato said. "Going out and not worrying about statistics, just going out and preparing ourselves to win."

Marshall's running game continued its dominance, this time against a Zips team that allowed just 127 rushing yards per game entering Saturday's contest. The Herd gained 284 yards on the backs of a pair of 100-yard rushers. Devon Johnson notched his third 100-yard game of the year with 103 yards on 18 carries. Remi Watson joined him, gaining 124 on nine carries, most of those coming on his 80-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

Meanwhile, Marshall's defense continued its streak of not allowing a first-half touchdown, even though the Zips (1-2) had a couple of opportunities. Akron got inside the Marshall 15 three times in the second quarter. The first time, the Zips had to kick a field goal from the Herd 7. The second time, A.J. Leggett intercepted a Kyle Pohl pass in the end zone on fourth and goal from the 4. Watson sprinted away for his score on the ensuing play.

The third time, Hakeem Lawrence fumbled on the Marshall 11 and Tiquan Lang recovered. Marshall was 1 for 3 in first-half red-zone chances and 2 for 4 overall. The Zips finally scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns after Marshall rested its starting defense. The first score, an 11-yard Manny Morgan run with 8:03 left, was the first rushing touchdown the Herd has allowed this season.

Twenty-three Herd defenders recorded at least one tackle, led by linebacker Evan McKelvey's five, including one for a loss. Leggett added two pass breakups to his interception, and one of his first-quarter deflections allowed Lang to grab an interception.

Tommy Shuler led Marshall with 63 yards on six catches. Pohl completed 17 of 37 passes for 151 yards and two interceptions for Akron, while Morgan led the Zips with 36 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.

The one glaring problem from Saturday was Marshall's penalties. The Herd was flagged 20 times for 188 yards, which led to seven of Akron's 25 first downs. The penalty total tied the single-game record set in 1931 and the yardage total eclipsed the former record of 180 set in 1969.

The Herd now has a bye week before it travels to Norfolk to visit Old Dominion in Marshall's Conference USA opener.

"We've got to take care of ourselves in this open date," Holliday said. "We have to continue to get better. Our kids understand and our coaches understand that, because of our high expectations, we have a responsibility to go to work tomorrow, to put this game behind us and start next week on getting better as a team."

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.

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Herd guards against letdown versus Akron http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140918/DM03/140919178 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140918/DM03/140919178 Thu, 18 Sep 2014 21:32:24 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Less than an hour after the Marshall football team's 44-14 dismantling of Ohio, a rival that had beaten the Thundering Herd the three previous seasons, the victory party had begun to die down.

"We feel like we played our first complete game of the season," right tackle Clint Van Horn said. "And it was good to do that against a rival opponent. We just need to be able to put it together again for next week against, we feel, a better opponent."

It's not often that the Akron Zips are considered a superior team to anyone. In 28 Football Bowl Subdivision seasons, they finished under .500 in 22 of them, including three straight 1-11 seasons from 2010-12. Yet the Herd (3-0) said the Akron team it visits Saturday at 2 p.m. (ESPN3.com) isn't like those struggling teams. Marshall coach Doc Holliday said the talent Zips coach Terry Bowden has started to collect there is better than Akron (1-1) has seen in a long time.

"Terry has done a good job at upgrading that roster there," Holliday said. "They will be the most athletic team that we have played to date."

That upgrade came quickly, with nine FBS transfers on Akron's roster and four of them in the Zips' starting lineup - offensive lineman Tommy Brown and defensive lineman Se'Von Pittman from Ohio State, linebacker C.J. Mizell from Washington State and offenisve lineman Joe McNamara from Wisconsin.

The Zips throttled Howard 41-0 in their season opener and, though they lost 21-3 at Penn State, they were able to drive the ball inside the Nittany Lions' 20-yard line three times. Led by junior quarterback Kyle Pohl, Akron is one of the nation's better passing teams, ranked 31st in the FBS at 304 yards per game.

That's why Holliday, his staff and the team's veteran players have reminded everyone this week about what can happen when the celebration of a big win goes on too long.

"One thing I reminded them on Sunday was that Virginia Tech was feeling pretty good about themselves after the Ohio State game," Holliday said, "and they turned around and East Carolina came in there and beat them. Southern Cal, they were talking about winning the national championship and they go to (Boston College) and get beat the following week. If you don't put those wins behind you and move on to the next one then you will get beat."

The Hokies finally made a game of it in the fourth quarter versus ECU, but were down 21 points in the first quarter. The Trojans were ranked ninth following a win at Stanford and led by 10 against BC before the Eagles pounded USC for 24 unanswered points.

Plus, road wins haven't always been easy for the Herd under Holliday. The three Marshall collected last season were the most in one season since Holliday took over as head coach. Marshall was 5-14 on the road in the previous three seasons.

For Marshall to win its second road game this year, center Chris Jasperse said last week must be a fond memory, but a distant one.

"It's going to take focus," Jasperse said. "A lot of teams come off a big win like we just came off of and they kind of slump. But that's our part as a leadership committee, we're going to have to make sure everyone knows that we can't slump. We've got to keep getting better. The thing about it is we can still get better."

That's what concerns Bowden. After a rough third quarter in its win over Miami (Ohio) and a first half against Rhode Island where the offense needed time to get rolling, the Herd put it all together against the Bobcats. Quarterback Rakeem Cato scorched Ohio's defense for 425 yards and four touchdowns and Marshall's defense dominated as the Herd led by as many as 41 points.

"If it's a scoring match, then it's going to be in (Marshall's) favor," Bowden said. "You've got to hope your defense can come out and play as good as it can play. I don't know how you beat Marshall unless you hold them a little bit above your average and score a little bit above our average."

As satisfying as Marshall's win over Ohio was, the team understood soon after that victory that the hangover from it can't last. The players saw last week's upsets, and they don't want to join the list of victims.

"We're not going to be the storyline," Jasperse 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.

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Chuck McGill: Bowden, Holliday and Herd linked by fishing, the veer and a job opening http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140918/DM03/140919181 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140918/DM03/140919181 Thu, 18 Sep 2014 21:29:19 -0400 CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Terry Bowden and Doc Holliday played football together at West Virginia University, have recruited against each other in southern Florida and coached with the same people.

They know each other well. Perhaps a little too well.

"I've known him all my life," said Bowden, who was a teammate of Holliday's in Morgantown during the late 70s.

Bowden, in his third season as Akron's head coach, will welcome Holliday and Marshall for a non-conference game Saturday at 2 p.m. It'll be a reunion of sorts for the old teammates and fishing buddies.

Bowden, 58, recalled one particular outdoors adventure the football coaches had in Pendleton County.

"The north fork of the south branch of the Potomac," Bowden said during his weekly press conference this week. "It was so cold, it was snow, and we would backpack four or five miles up in the mountains to catch native brook trout. We were always looking for native brook trout.

"The guides of your rod would freeze up it was so cold. I remember slipping and falling, we were in hip-waders going across a fast-moving stream. Having to undress naked in the middle of the snow to get warm enough to even survive. So there I was naked in the middle of the woods with a bunch of guys on a fishing trip.

"Believe it or not, if you've ever trout-fished in the mountains in the winter and you fall in, you better get dry really quick. That was the coldest I've ever been."

Bowden's father, of course, is the legendary Bobby Bowden, who was the offensive coordinator at WVU from 1966-69 and compiled a 42-26 record in six seasons as the head coach before turning Florida State into a national power. Before Bobby Bowden departed Morgantown, he recruited Holliday.

"My dad signed him," Terry Bowden said.

Before Bobby Bowden was hired as an assistant at WVU, he worked at Florida State as a receivers coach. That's where he forged a bond with a future Marshall assistant coach, Red Dawson, who developed into an all-American at tight end and defensive end for Florida State.

Bobby Bowden was Dawson's position coach at receiver.

You might recall in the movie "We Are Marshall," head coach Jack Lengyel and Dawson, an MU assistant coach, visited Bowden in Morgantown before the 1971 season. Dawson wasn't on the Southern Airways Flight 932 that crashed Nov. 14, 1970 and claimed 75 lives, which included Herd coaches and players.

They needed Bowden's help. Terry Bowden shed light on how that story unfolded.

"I'll give you all some inside information that the movie never brought about," Terry Bowden said this week. "If you saw the movie, the coach that was not on the plane was named Red Dawson ... that was his first coaching job. He was a wide receiver-tight end at Florida State. The wide receiver-quarterback coach at Florida State was my dad. So in the early '60s, Fred Biletnikoff, Red Dawson, they were all receivers at Florida State.

"My dad gets the West Virginia job as a coordinator and Red Dawson goes to Marshall as an assistant coach. So when that tragedy occurred Red Dawson appealed to his good friend and former coach, Bobby Bowden, for the head coach that they'd like to look at (the film). In the movie it looked like they were competition and that it was some sort of gesture that we gave information to our competition. It wasn't. Marshall and West Virginia did not play each other.

"We wore crosses on our helmets. It was a special relationship that Red Dawson made the call to come up. I believe my dad would've done it regardless. But there was a natural relationship between Red Dawson and my dad, so when he called it was easy for them to come on up."

In the movie, as Lengyel's character, played by Matthew McConaughey, is recruiting he decides the young Thundering Herd needed to implement the veer offense.

"My dad ran what they called the Houston veer. My dad went down to Houston in '67 or '68 and a guy named Bill Yeoman was running the split-back veer, he was doing it better than anybody in the country. So dad went down and my dad ran the option for years. He didn't run the passing. He was a split-back veer coach.

"If you watch the movie Marshall came in and put in the split-back veer. They had all the video, they had all the cut-ups and so they came and put in the split-back veer, which is considered like the spread offense today, something where a less-talented team could out-maneuver people that were better, bigger.

"Those days the option was a way the lesser, smaller teams could catch up to people that were bigger, so that was the relation."

Terry Bowden was 14 years old when the plane crash occurred, but he later crossed paths with Dawson, Huntington and Marshall University.

"In 1985 I interviewed for the head job at Marshall and I spent the night and stayed with Red Dawson," the Akron coach said. "He was retired and in that area. Gerry Faust interviewed right before me and he turned the job down. I interviewed, I was about 28 years old, they told me I was too young."

Bowden was the coach at Salem at the time, and the next season he joined Faust at Akron as an assistant for one season, launching his major college football coaching career.

Now he's back on the Akron sideline, back competing with his old fishing buddy.

It isn't brook trout, but Bowden wouldn't mind reeling in enough prospects to build what Holliday has at Marshall.

"I don't think anybody in their right mind wouldn't want to run and pass it like they do," Bowden said. "Do I envision us being like them? Exactly."

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: MU announces FIU, UAB game networks http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140918/DM03/140919238 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140918/DM03/140919238 Thu, 18 Sep 2014 16:52:17 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

The Marshall football team's games at Florida International University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham will be broadcast on the American Sports Network, Marshall announced Thursday. ASN broadcasts on Sinclair Broadcast Group stations across the nation.

The FIU game's kickoff remains at 6 p.m. on Oct. 18, while the UAB game's kickoff has been moved to noon on Nov. 22.

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Cato named Manning QB of the week http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140918/DM03/140919239 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140918/DM03/140919239 Thu, 18 Sep 2014 16:48:46 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

Marshall senior quarterback Rakeem Cato was chosen as the Manning Award Quarterback of the Week, the award committee announced Thursday. Cato won the honor over seven other Manning Award Stars of the Week in the Allstate Sugar Bowl's Facebook contest. Cato edged East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden by about 100 "likes."

Cato recorded his fifth career 400-yards passing game last Saturday in Marshall's 44-14 win over Ohio. The senior gained 425 yards and four touchdowns on 17-of-29 passing. Marshall visits Akron at 2 p.m. Saturday (ESPN3.com).

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Bowden leading Akron turnaround http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140917/DM03/140919319 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140917/DM03/140919319 Wed, 17 Sep 2014 17:11:31 -0400 By Derek Redd Terry Bowden is in the middle of his second act as a college football coach, trying to give a struggling Akron program a first act in winning consistently.

The Zips are in their 28th season as a Football Bowl Subdivision program. They've finished six seasons with a winning record, finished more than two games over .500 only once and haven't ended with a winning record since 2005.

To fix that, the university turned to a man who saw resounding success as an FBS football coach. It's just that his last stint at that level ended halfway through the 1998 season. Yet Bowden seems to have started the culture change Akron has sought, and the Zips see Saturday's 2 p.m. clash with Marshall at InfoCision Stadium (ESPN3) as another possible step in that growth.

"I wish I could say it's happening as fast as I want it, but it never happens as fast as you want it," Bowden said. "I think it's happening as fast as you can expect it."

Bowden has never been shy in taking on projects. The son of Florida State coaching legend and College Football Hall of Famer Bobby Bowden, he became the youngest head college football coach in the country in 1983 when he took over Salem College at age 26. The team had gone 0-9-1 the year before. He guided the Tigers to back-to-back eight-win seasons in 1984 and 1985.

Then he moved to Samford University and helped that team transition from Division III to the I-AA and got the Bulldogs to the I-AA semifinals in 1991. Then he became Auburn's head coach, went 11-0 in his first season at age 37 and won 46 games in his first five years. But he resigned in the middle of 1998 with the Tigers at 1-5.

Bowden spent a decade in broadcasting before the itch to coach returned. He became his own reclamation project, starting his rebirth at Division II North Alabama, where he won 29 games in three seasons. Akron gave him the chance to return to the FBS in 2012, though it looked like a program at a dead end.

The Zips had gone 1-11 in each of their two seasons under former coach Rob Ianello. Of those 22 losses, half of them came by 30 points or more. That, redshirt junior defensive lineman Cody Grice said, sapped the team of its joy.

"It kind of took the love of the game away from us," he said.

Bowden's arrival also heralded the arrival of several veteran coaches from major programs. Former North Carolina State head coach Chuck Amato is his defensive coordinator. Former Ohio State assistant John Peterson oversees his offensive line. Bowden's brother Jeff, the former Florida State offensive coordinator, is his outside receivers coach.

Bowden's passion rekindled the passion in his players, Grice said.

"He kind of brought back that relaxed style of coaching," Grice said. "He brought the love of the game back for us. We were really dead around here and he brought back some life."

The Zips are starting to show signs of life on the field, too. After going 1-11 in Bowden's first season, Akron finished 2013 at 5-7, winning its last three games and four of its last five. The Zips pummeled Howard 41-0 in their 2014 season opener. They lost at Penn State, 21-3, but got inside the Nittany Lions 20 three times.

Akron quarterback Kyle Pohl is 35th in the FBS at 258 passing yards per game, while the Zips' defense is tied with Texas Christian for sixth in allowing 10.5 points per game and is 28th in total defense, allowing 320.5 yards per game. Grice said he can feel Akron turning around its fortunes.

"Slow and steady, that's how we rock," he said. "Slow and steady, and it's only getting better. We're on a gravy train right now and we're trying to ride it as long as we can. I'm very happy with Coach Bowden and the staff and what they've done for the program."

The Zips continue to climb, Bowden said. He knows Marshall, at 3-0 and rolling after a 44-14 win over Ohio, will be a tough test. Yet he feels the program is growing to a point where it can meet a test like Marshall head-on.

"We've made a lot of improvement," Bowden said. "Would I like it to have gone faster? Yes. Can I determine how fast it's going to turn? No, but it is turning."

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.

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Derek Redd: Amato, Holliday go way back http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140917/DM03/140919334 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140917/DM03/140919334 Wed, 17 Sep 2014 16:23:58 -0400 HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Akron defensive coordinator Chuck Amato knew long before Marshall's Doc Holliday ever became a head coach that he would make a good one.

Amato had been a pretty successful head coach himself, winning 49 games and four bowls while leading North Carolina State from 2000-06. Holliday was on the Wolfpack staff for three of those bowl wins as an assistant coach from 2000-04. Now Amato is in charge of Akron head coach Terry Bowden's defense as the Zips prepare for Saturday's showdown against Marshall's electric offense.

Amato had once been in Holliday's shoes, an assistant coach looking for the right path toward one day running his own team. Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden named Amato assistant head coach during his first stint with the Seminoles, a boost toward his eventual hire at N.C. State. Amato knew Holliday's aspirations were the same, so he named Holliday his associate head coach.

"He did a lot of stuff for me that I didn't have to mess around with, things that I used to do for Bobby Bowden," Amato said. "He did it yesterday. It wasn't done two days from now. He was on top of everything."

Holliday was especially on top of recruiting, which made him really attractive to Amato at N.C. State. The two had battled for years in the fertile recruiting ground of South Florida, Amato at FSU and Holliday at West Virginia, snagging recruits from Belle Glade to Miami. And if they could do so well as individuals, Amato figured they'd do even better if they combined their talents.

"I'd watch what he would do in recruiting and he was a good recruiter," Amato said. "And I said that if I was ever lucky enough to be a head coach, who would I want to go after to recruit South Florida heavily? He was the first guy I called."

Both Holliday and Amato remain on staffs with the same recruiting strategy - to coax as many Florida high school stars as possible to spend a few years where few Floridians would roam. The Zips have 19 Florida players residing in Akron right now. The Thundering Herd has 29 making their home in Huntington.

If you want to know why Marshall is seeing the success that it is, Amato says you need look no further than the Herd's recruiting rankings under Holliday.

"He was a heck of an on-field coach, but the recruiting aspect of it, look at his depth chart," Amato said.

Amato is paying particular attention to Marshall's offense, led by Miami native Rakeem Cato. Amato has seen enough film in preparing for the Herd to know how good Cato is behind center.

"We're hoping the quarterback gets sick and can't play in our game," Amato said with a chuckle. "That'll make it easier for everybody. He is something special. We thought the quarterback at Penn State (Chrisian Hackenberg) was, but this one is better than him."

Holliday is sure Amato will cook up something on defense to try and slow his Herd down. Amato has surprised him a bit in his use of multiple formations at Akron, but the framework of Amato's defense remains the same.

"The one thing I know about Chuck's defense is that they will be physical and play extremely hard," Holliday said. "They are really athletic."

Those principles of hard work aren't unique to Akron's defense, Amato said. The Herd plays with the same tenacity, which is a reflection of Holliday's personality. Maybe it's the amateur wrestler's spirit in both of them. Holliday won a state title at Hurricane High School, while Amato won a pair of Atlantic Coast Conference titles at N.C. State.

"There's no question players emulate their coach," Amato said. "They play hard like he did. He's a tough person and so is his football team."

Marshall is Holliday's team, and his time under Amato at N.C. State was a crucial component in him earning that spot. Holliday remembers those seasons in Raleigh fondly.

"Anytime you're winning, going to bowls and having success, it's good to be in this business," Holliday said. "That was a good five years."

Holliday is hoping for a good four quarters on Saturday. And as much as he appreciates Amato, he'd like those good times to remain on the visitors' side of the field.

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Herd sees shades of own offense in Zips http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140916/DM03/140919392 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140916/DM03/140919392 Tue, 16 Sep 2014 19:35:23 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON - As Marshall's defense watches film of Akron's offense in preparation for the Thundering Herd's Saturday visit to InfoCision Stadium, they'll see some familiar looks. They're some of the same ones the defense sees when it lines up against the Herd offense in practice.

When the Herd (3-0) and Zips (1-1) meet at 2 p.m. on ESPN3.com, Marshall should see a lot of the wrinkles its own offense uses.

"Akron's doing a lot of the same things," Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. "I think I heard Terry talk in one of his press conferences, he talked about wanting to have the ability to throw the ball. But I think they're doing more run-pass options this year than what they've done, which our defense, of course, has seen against us."

The Zips enter Saturday's game ranked 83rd in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total offense, averaging 395 yards per game. Their passing game makes up the vast majority of that total. Akron averaged 304 yards through the air, the 31st-best average in the FBS. But Herd defensive coordinator Chuck Heater said the run-pass option is there in the Zips' repertoire.

"There's some real similarities, some very strong similarities," Heater said. "That's a facet. They're a big drop-back team also, but there's that piece to it that they didn't have a year ago and now they're doing much more."

Heater said seeing that offense on the practice field isn't the only benefit. It has also helped to have Marshall offensive coordinator Bill Legg close by to discuss the nuances of the offense and devise ways to slow it down.

"I think it helps, just being able to have conversations with Bill and understand kind of what they're seeing and what they're looking for," Heater said, "so that helps us with that particular piece of what they're doing."

n n n

TREVOR MENDELSON waited a long time for his first chance to start on Marshall's offensive line. Three games into his fifth year with the Herd, that chance finally came along. He jogged out as Marshall's first-team left tackle at the start of the Herd's 44-14 win over Ohio.

"It was awesome," he said. "I really have to give a lot of thanks to the coaching staff for the trust they put in me and my (fellow linemen), who have always stood by me and pushed me. And now that I finally get my opportunity, I'd like to think I did a good job out there."

The fifth-year senior was the third player the Herd put at left tackle in its win over Rhode Island after Sebastian Johansson and A.J. Addison left that game hurt. That he was the first left tackle used against Ohio gives him confidence that he can contribute whenever needed.

"I've put in the time," he said, "and it's a good feeling to go out there and see all the hard work and dedication pay off."

n n n

A DAY after Bowden lauded Holliday's toughness and work ethic when the two were teammates on West Virginia University's football team, Holliday offered similar praise of Bowden.

"Terry was always a guy who was an overachiever," Holliday said. "Neither one of us were very athletic and had to work for whatever we got. That's just the way it was. He worked extremely hard to play, as I did, and he's gone on to have success wherever he's went."

There was another place where Holliday jokingly agreed with Bowden. The Akron coach said during his Monday conference call that he tried to work as hard as Holliday because he couldn't outwork him. Smiling, Holliday said that extended just about everywhere.

"Terry talks about fishing and all that," he said. "I never lost to Terry, I don't think, at anything."

n n n

HOLLIDAY SAID he doesn't "see anybody right now, at this point, that won't play." Marshall held out safety A.J. Leggett, defensive end Arnold Blackmon and left tackle Sebastian Johansson due to various injuries. ... Captains for the Akron game will be quarterback Rakeem Cato, center Chris Jasperse, corner Corey Tindal and linebacker Neville Hewitt. It will be Tindal and Hewitt's first times this season as captain, Jasperse's second and Cato's third. ... Holliday is scheduled to be a radio guest on the Jim Rome Show at 1:22 p.m. Those interested can listen locally on 950 AM.

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.

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Herd offense sometimes taking things slow http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140916/DM03/140919398 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140916/DM03/140919398 Tue, 16 Sep 2014 18:40:00 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON - College football is moving faster than perhaps it ever has. CBSSports.com columnist Jon Solomon calculated that 22 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision are averaging at least 80 plays a game through the first three weeks of the season. That's a total, he said, that only seven teams reached as late as 2011.

However, the Marshall football team, one of the preeminent tempo offenses over the past few years, is not among those 22.

Through three weeks, the 3-0 Thundering Herd is averaging 76 plays a game, down from the 78 plays it averaged in 2013 and the staggering 90.6 plays it averaged in 2012. While play totals might be low, the Herd's offense is anything but.

Marshall, coming off back-to-back 700-plus-yard games, is second in the FBS only to Baylor in total offense and has scored at least 40 points in nine of its last 11 games. The Herd will try to keep that level of efficiency going at 2 p.m. Saturday when it visits Akron on ESPN3.com.

In the Herd's season opener at Miami, it ran 67 plays. Compare that to 2012, when its lowest play total in any game was 71 and it eclipsed 100 plays in a game three times. Since that Miami game, Marshall ran 81 plays against Rhode Island and 79 against Ohio.

Some of that, tight end Eric Frohnapfel said, is by design.

"I know, especially this year, we've sort of played with the tempo more," Frohnapfel said, "where sometimes we're up-tempo and sometimes we're slowing down. In past years, I felt like we were constantly in 'red' tempo. I do think we did a lot of freeze-checks to try to get them to show their hand this past game, and we're seeing that more.

"I think it works out really well," he continued. "Before some drives, they say, 'hey, we're staying in one formation and we're going.' In other drives, they say, 'hey, we're going to slow down and try to run the ball.' And in order to do that, we've got to see what they're in. So I think it's good we have the ability to go fast and throw, or we can slow down, see where they're looking and decide where we want to run the ball."

Marshall coach Doc Holliday said last Saturday's 79 plays versus Ohio was a conscious effort to slow down the game near its end in order to keep the defense off the field.

"We were playing some younger kids and I didn't want to put the (James) Rouses and all them back out there," Holliday said. "That fourth quarter, we made a conscious effort to use the clock."

The dominance of Marshall's first-team defense is one of the reasons Holliday has been able to vary tempo this season. The Herd hasn't allowed a first-half touchdown this season. All any opponent has been able to muster was a Miami (Ohio) field goal.

One of the reasons Holliday said the Herd ran 90 plays a game in 2012 was because the defense was one of the nation's most porous.

"The most helpless I ever felt as a coach was two years ago, when we had to outscore people," he said. "That was awful. I never want to feel that again. Thank goodness I don't feel like that now. That's why we're able to change pace and do a few things with our offense, because, hell, two years ago, we had to outscore everyone and that's awful."

It's not all strategy, center Chris Jasperse said. Part of Marshall's dip in total plays run comes from how well the offense performs when they run them. The Herd averages 620.3 yards per game, No. 2 in the FBS behind Baylor's 654.3 average. It's also averaging 8.16 yards per play, the third-best average in the FBS behind Georgia Southern (9.13) and Oregon (8.35).

That all leads to 44.7 points per game, tied with Pittsburgh and Oklahoma for 15th-best in the FBS.

"I think it's more the big plays that we have," Jasperse said. "We've had a lot of big plays where we don't run as many plays, we just get big plays, which I'll take all day. It doesn't matter how many plays you run, as long as you score touchdowns and put points on the board."

Against Ohio, the Herd recorded nine plays of at least 20 yards. Offensive lineman Trevor Mendelson said just knowing the offense is capable of chewing up yards in such huge chunks is a massive confidence boost.

"It doesn't matter how we get the yards," he said. "If it's four yards at a time, we'll just pound it and demoralize them and do that. But if the big play comes up, it's a great feeling to run down the field. I know when we walk back to the line of scrimmage, we feel like we can do it 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.

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Cato honored for showing against Ohio http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140916/DM03/140919450 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140916/DM03/140919450 Tue, 16 Sep 2014 00:01:00 -0400 HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato was named College Sports Madness's Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week and a Manning Award "Star of the Week" on Monday.

Cato completed 17 of 29 pass attempts for 425 yards, four touchdowns and one interception in the Herd's 44-14 win agasint visiting Ohio on Saturday. It was his fifth-career 400-yard game and his 77-yard scoring bomb to wide receiver Angelo Jean-Louis in the third quarter gave him 100 career touchdown passes.

Nationally, the Miami native ranks in the top 15 in yards per completion (5th, 18.33), scoring responsibility (5th, 66 points), passing touchdowns (6th, nine), yards per pass attempt (7th, 10.59), total offense per game (7th, 368.3), pass efficiency (11th, 177.5) and passing yards (12th, 953). Marshall (3-0) travels to Akron (1-1) Saturday for a 2 p.m. game that will be carried on ESPN3.com.

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Randy Moss ESPN documentary set for Nov. 11 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140915/DM03/140919451 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140915/DM03/140919451 Mon, 15 Sep 2014 23:01:48 -0400 CHARLESTON, W.Va. - ESPN's "30 for 30" documentary on former DuPont High School, Marshall University and NFL star Randy Moss, titled "Rand University" is scheduled to debut on ESPN on Tuesday, Nov. 11 at 8 p.m., the network announced Monday.

The documentary, chronicling Moss's journey from Rand to Heisman finalist with the Thundering Herd to record-breaking 14-year NFL veteran, is one of seven "30 for 30" documentaries ESPN will broadcast beginning Tuesday, Oct. 7. "Rand University" is directed by Marquis Daisy, who produced the "30 for 30" film "Bernie and Ernie," which looked at the friendship between four-time NBA All-Star Bernard King and his former teammate and current Washington Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld.

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Herd defense keeps opposing QBs on the run http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140915/DM03/140919469 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140915/DM03/140919469 Mon, 15 Sep 2014 21:13:44 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The Marshall football team has faced a trio of running quarterbacks this season - whether those quarterbacks wanted to be considered runners or not.

The Thundering Herd's defense has kept opposing quarterbacks scrambling this year, a process that begins long before the team takes the field and helps every level of the defense. It's a streak the Herd (3-0) would like to keep rolling when the team travels Saturday to face Akron (2 p.m., ESPN3.com).

Through the first three games of 2014, Marshall's defense has amassed six sacks and 24 quarterback hurries in wins over Miami (Ohio), Rhode Island and Ohio, the first time the Herd has started a season 3-0 since its undefeated 1999 campaign. The sack total is down from the nine Marshall racked up in last season's first three games, but it's double the total of hurries. Marshall recorded 12 last season against Miami, Gardner-Webb and Ohio.

Marshall didn't record a sack against the Bobcats in its 44-14 win this past Saturday, but the Herd ended with a season-high 10 hurries. That was an ingredient that allowed Marshall's defense to finish with seven pass breakups and an interception against Ohio.

Linebacker Neville Hewitt said that work begins in the film room, with coaches pointing out to players the different tendencies each opposing quarterback has, what flusters him, when he's most flustered and what he'll do when the pocket breaks down.

"A lot of it comes from that," said Hewitt, who had a pair of hurries against Ohio. "Watching and seeing how guys move and when they're going to do certain things. When you see them do a certain thing, then you think, 'I've seen them do that before.'"

Even when the pass rush can't actually bring a quarterback down, the pursuit itself can benefit the secondary. A signal-caller on the run has to get the ball out of his hands quicker than he wants, so throws could sail high or low or miss the zip the quarterback normally gets on his throws.

That, senior corner Darryl Roberts said, gives a defensive back an easier opportunity to either bat the ball away from the intended receiver or reel in the pass himself.

"It helps any secondary just to get pressure on the quarterback," Roberts said, "to get the quarterback rattled and uncomfortable, to make him make hard throws. It just helps the secondary out a lot, knowing that the quarterback doesn't have all the time in the world to complete the pass."

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AT LEAST some of the framework of Akron's offense can be found in the offense of the head coach of the other Football Bowl Subdivision program in West Virginia.

When Zips head coach Terry Bowden returned to coaching at North Alabama in 2009 - he had worked in broadcasting since leaving Auburn in the middle of the 1998 season - he linked up with former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach, now Washington State's head coach. Current West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen was on Leach's staff from 2000-07.

"When I first got back in, I figured I'd take over a program that wasn't very good and we'd have to throw it every down, so I'd gotten to know Mike Leach very well. He was out of coaching at the time, so Holgorsen was running at Oklahoma State what (Leach) was doing.

"Now, he took that offense to West Virginia, and it's changed every year a little bit," Bowden added. "So we really haven't stayed with what he's doing now as much as with what he was doing at Oklahoma State."

A significant component of Holgorsen's offense, using inside receivers as a vertical threat, is one the Zips use as well. Akron's inside receivers coach John Pont spoke at a recent clinic about how the Zips use their inside wideouts to spread the field and threaten vertically.

"We want the first three steps of every single play to look like four vertical routes," Pont said in a transcript of the talk. "I want everything with my receiver's body language to signify he is going to beat the defender deep. ... I may stop at four yards, but for the first three steps, I want him to think I'm going deep, so he is backing up."

Akron's inside receiver, Zach D'Orazio, led the Zips in catches (42), yards (567) and touchdowns (four) last season while averaging 13.5 yards a catch. The junior has a team-high nine catches this year for 98 yards, a 10.9-yard average.

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BOWDEN AND Marshall coach Doc Holliday once wore the same uniform. Both played for WVU in 1977 and 1978. Bowden said Holliday's reputation for toughness and hard work was strong all the way back to his playing days.

"I always thought I could outwork anybody," Bowden said. "I always thought of myself as being a little overachiever walk-on that could outwork anybody. When Doc came along, I said, well, there was one guy where I can't outwork this guy.

"He's always been an overachiever," Bowden added. "He's a tough guy, bring your lunchbox and go to work. He's one of those guys where I better make sure I work as hard as him, because I'm not sure I'll ever outwork Doc."

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HERD QUARTERBACK Rakeem Cato was named a Manning Award "Star of the Week" and the College Sports Madness Conference USA offensive player of the week Monday. The senior completed 17 of 29 passes for 425 yards, four touchdowns and an interception against Ohio. He's sixth in the FBS with nine touchdowns and ranks seventh in total offense at 368.3 yards per game.

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.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEC dominates AP poll; Herd, WVU pick up votes http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140915/DM03/140919557 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140915/DM03/140919557 Mon, 15 Sep 2014 09:23:22 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

South Carolina's win over Georgia vaulted the Gamecocks 10 spots to No. 14 in The Associated Press college football poll, giving the Southeastern Conference an unprecedented seven teams in the top 15.

West Virginia (2-1), which won at Maryland, 40-37, picked up 14 points in the "others receiving votes" category. Marshall (3-0) routed Ohio, 44-14, and collected 28 points.

The SEC had eight teams ranked for the third straight week and five teams in the top 10 for two weeks running. Alabama is third behind No. 1 Florida State and No. 2. Oregon, followed by No. 5 Auburn, No. 6, Texas A&M, No. 8, LSU and No. 10 Mississippi.

Georgia fell to No. 13 after losing to the Gamecocks 38-35 and Missouri was No. 18.

Florida State, which was off, has 37 first-place votes, losing one to the Ducks, who have 17.

Oklahoma held its position at No. 4 after beating Tennessee, Baylor moved up one to No. 7 with a rout over Buffalo and No. 9 Notre Dame was back in the top 10 for the first time since 2012 after moving up two spots.

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MARSHALL SOCCER: Second-half surge leads to victory for Herd women http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140915/DM03/140919595 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140915/DM03/140919595 Mon, 15 Sep 2014 00:01:00 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

RICHMOND, Ky. - Three goals in a 10-minute span during the second half lifted the Marshall women's soccer team (3-2-2) by a 3-1 count over Eastern Kentucky (2-5-0) on Sunday afternoon at EKU Soccer Field.

Marshall will stay on the road for a meeting with Miami (Ohio) for a 7 p.m. match on Friday in Oxford, Ohio.

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Allen, Jean-Louis lead resurgence for Herd's outside receivers http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140914/DM03/140919577 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140914/DM03/140919577 Sun, 14 Sep 2014 20:46:16 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - A season ago, many wondered when Marshall's football team would find some production out of its outside receivers. Following the Thundering Herd's 44-14 thumping Saturday of Ohio, that production was easy to find. It was streaking down the field for touchdowns.

The Herd's top two outside wideouts, redshirt junior Davonte Allen and redshirt freshman Angelo Jean-Louis, combined to catch nine passes for 295 yards and three scores in the teams's rout in "The Battle for the Bell." Allen caught five passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns, while Jean-Louis caught four passes for 158 yards and a touchdown.

Those performances satisfied Marshall coach Doc Holliday, who had challenged that group since the spring to rebound from a quiet 2013.

"We were getting almost zero production out of that outside receiver position a year ago," Holliday said, "and now that's totally different."

Over 14 games last season, Marshall's top two outside receivers, Devon Smith and Craig Wilkins, caught a total of 71 passes for 1,061 yards and six touchdowns. Through just three games this season, Allen and Jean-Louis have caught 20 passes for 525 yards and four touchdowns. Their dominance over Ohio's secondary came almost instantly.

Marshall's fourth play and first completion of the game was a 46-yard strike from quarterback Rakeem Cato to Allen on third and 7 from the Herd 33 that put Marshall in range for its first points of the contest, a 36-yard Justin Haig field goal. The Herd's next drive ended in a touchdown and featured two Cato-to-Allen connections, a 36-yarder and a 25-yarder for the score. Allen scored both of his touchdowns in the first quarter, the second coming on a six-yard pass from Cato to make it 17-0.

The Bobcats tried to defend Allen one-on-one using all-Mid-American Conference second-team corner Devin Bass. It became evident early that wouldn't work.

"We were able to run by those corners a little bit and make some plays on the outside," Holliday said. "That helps. Regardless of whether they had an extra hat in the box, those corners were always one on one for the most part. If you can't win outside, you've got problems, and we were able to win today."

Allen, who matched his touchdown total from all of last season in Saturday's game, had become a pet project of all-Conference USA slot receiver Tommy Shuler. Shuler said he's switched roommate assignments the last two weeks to make sure he was paired with Allen. He's spent that time quizzing Allen on what to expect on the field.

"He's probably tired of me talking to him," Shuler said.

Actually, Allen has enjoyed the company, crediting Shuler's attention with his improved play.

"He's really helped me to slow down the game," Allen said. "He'll throw out different questions on what I should do on this, what I should do on that and give me different looks in practice. When it's game time, everything is slower and easier."

Jean-Louis scored the most dazzling touchdown of the day with 9:34 left in the third. On third and 6 from the Herd 23, Ohio flushed Cato from pocket and forced him toward his left. Jean-Louis saw Cato scrambling and cut across the field to help. Cato side-armed a pass right to the redshirt freshman, who turned up the field and sprinted away for a 77-yard score.

"I felt like I could go across the middle," Jean-Louis said. "I had seen the safety, went across the middle, Cato put it on the money and, after that, you've just got to make speed work."

After spending a season looking for a pair of outside receivers to replace former stars Aaron Dobson and Antavious Wilson, the Herd found two top contenders Saturday. Jean-Louis said he and Allen want to make games like theirs against the Bobcats a common occurrence.

"We kind of knew for a while," Jean-Louis said. "We just wanted to come out here and actually show it week by week and just keep it on and keep improving. We've been working hard all camp and all spring. It definitely had to show sometime."

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RUNNING BACK Steward Butler vindicated himself Saturday versus Ohio. The redshirt junior led all rushers with 119 yards and, most importantly, didn't fumble. He fumbled twice last season against Ohio, including once on a kickoff the Bobcats pounced on for a touchdown in a 34-31 Herd loss.

"It felt good," Butler said. "It felt really good. We finally got the bell, got the win and I had a good game."

Butler said he took Saturday's game personally. Now, after missing Marshall's first game with a lower abdominal injury, he's averaging 93.5 rushing yards per game and 6.4 yards per carry. And the opportunity to bounce back versus Ohio was very satisfying.

"I've been thinking about it for a long time," he said. "I finally got a chance to go out there and show something against those guys."

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MARSHALL'S TURNOVERS, the main reason the Herd had lost three straight to Ohio, nearly disappeared Saturday. After committing 13 in the previous three games against the Bobcats, Marshall committed just one this year, a Cato interception from the Ohio 9 to start the fourth quarter. That was just Cato's second red-zone interception of his Marshall career.

"That's the first time we've had that in a long time," Holliday said. "If you took that away, it was great. I thought our guys did a good job of taking care of the football, which was critical. The bottom line is we lost the football game a year ago because we had (four) turnovers. If we take care of the football, we're a pretty good football team and we're going to win."

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FIFTH-YEAR SENIOR Trevor Mendelson started the game at left tackle in place of the injured regular starter, Sebastian Johansson. He rotated at that spot with A.J. Addison. Redshirt sophomore safety A.J. Leggett sat for the second straight game, with Taj Letman and Tiquan Lang starting at the two safety spots. Starting defensive end Arnold Blackmon also didn't play, with Armonze Daniel earning his first career start in his place. Corner Keith Baxter did play, however, after sitting the season's first two games with a hamstring injury.

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.

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