Cato brings energy
HUNTINGTON -- Most quarterbacks want to keep their cool, not letting their emotions show in the heat of battle on the field.
Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato isn't most quarterbacks, however.
He wants to play his game -- a high-energy, emotion-filled, smack-talk brand of quarterbacking that goes right at the throat of a defense.
As Cato showed on Saturday, even his own teammates aren't immune if they are on the other side of the football. Following a pass completion during Saturday's first scrimmage, Cato ran downfield and acted like he was going to throw a block for wide receiver Jermaine Kelson.
The red-clad quarterback (red is the color of a "no contact" jersey) knew he wasn't going to hit anyone, but he was jawing at linebacker Devin Arrington the whole way.
"We talk trash every time, always," Cato said. "When most of the stuff happens -- the fights and stuff -- that's because me and D.A. (Devin Arrington), we're always talking. I just want to be competitive with the defense and have everyone on the same page and have fun out here."
Cato more than backed up his talk on Saturday, solidifying his stance as the unequivocal leader of the Herd. He finished the day 19-of-24 for 233 yards and three touchdowns -- two to Demetrius Evans.
The second touchdown of the day was the best from Cato as he rolled to his right, eluded the rush of Alex Bazzie off the edge and fired between two defenders to Evans, who had worked in behind them in the end zone.
Not only was it a sign of how Cato's game has evolved at Marshall, but also how Marshall's offense has evolved around Cato.
"They kind of opened the offense up for me and just let me play ball," Cato said. "I'm loving it right now."
As for Bazzie, he admitted that if Cato had been in a white (full-contact) jersey, there's no chance he would've gotten the play off.
He jokingly added that it'd be nice to take a shot at Cato every now and then.
"Cato is so competitive, and he makes you just want to knock him out sometimes," Bazzie said. "We like that in our quarterback. He's very tough but even he understands that he can't get hit, but as you see, he always runs out there and tries to set a block.
"He'd love to make contact and we'd love to hit him, but we just can't. Oh my God, if only we could put our hands on him, man, but that's our man. We have to take care of him now."
While Bazzie didn't get to Cato on that particular play, he did have a solid scrimmage with seven tackles and three credited sacks on the afternoon.
Other defensive players stepped up including Cortez Carter (10 tackles), Dominick LeGrande (eight tackles), and Arrington and Jermine Holmes, who joined Bazzie with seven tackles each.
Offensively, Marshall rolled up 610 yards in 100 plays with the defense being a bit hamstrung by situational packages throughout the scrimmage.
Cato was not the only quarterback to see success in the scrimmage.
Freshman Gunnar Holcombe was 13-of-16 for 145 yards and a touchdown while Blake Frohnapfel finished 7-of-16 for 73 yards. In the case of Frohnapfel, he had four dropped passes and threw two passes away to avoid sacks.
The quarterbacks connected with 16 different receivers in the scrimmage, led by Dameon Garrett, who had four catches for 99 yards and a touchdown. Tommy Shuler led the team in receptions with eight, including a 6-yard score from Cato.
In the rushing department, running backs Tron Martinez and Travon Van did not see action, allowing others plenty of reps during the 100-play scrimmage.
Remi Watson rushed eight times for 78 yards to lead the attack while freshmen Steward Butler and Kevin Grooms finished with 60 and 44 yards respectively.
"It was good just to be in full pads and get in full contact," Grooms said. "Everybody is just ready to get at it and ready to play to compete and get a position."
In the kicking game, redshirt freshman Trenton Martin highlighted the special teams, connecting on all four of his field goal attempts from 33, 35, 40 and 42 yards.
Marshall players will take a bit of a day off on Sunday for Fan Day festivities, which begin at 4 p.m. at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The players will take part in team and position photos before interacting with fans in an interview session.
The Herd gets back to practice with a two-a-day session on Monday. The morning session begins at 9:15 a.m. while the afternoon session gets going at 4 p.m.
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