Chuck Landon: MU's QB pushing RBs to succeed
NASCAR has nothing on Rakeem Cato.
If anybody thinks Joe Gibbs teammates Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin can draft, they should watch Marshall teammates Cato and Stew Butler.
It all began during Marshall's 52-14 win over Miami (Ohio) last Saturday in Edwards Stadium. Nearly every time the Herd's star quarterback handed off to a running back an interesting event occurred.
As the running back took the handoff and, then, made his first step, Cato reached out, planted his right hand in the running back's lower back and gave him a push toward the line of scrimmage.
It happened several times with running backs Essray Taliaferro, Kevin Grooms and Butler.
"I always do that," said Cato. At every level of football I've played at, I've done that ... even in Little League. In high school, I did it to all my running backs.
"And in college right now we've got a lot of running backs who are really fast. Just giving them an extra push in the hole ... that just starts them up and gives them a burst."
It's certainly difficult to argue with the results.
Marshall rushed for an eyebrow-raising 304 yards on 57 attempts for an impressive 5.3-yard average.
Well, if a quarterback could get assists in football like a point guard does in basketball, Cato would have been credited with at least a dozen against Miami.
"They like it," said Cato, referring to Marshall's corps of running backs. "They told me, 'Don't stop doing it.' They like it. They want me to keep doing it."
What's not to like?
Remember booster rockets back when the United States actually had a space program? Or how about when big Charlie O'Connell gave a whip to a jammer for the San Francisco Bay Bombers in the glory days of Roller Derby?
That's basically what Cato is doing for Marshall's running backs.
He's supplying a boost in the right direction.
"It seems like they hit the hole even faster than before," said Cato. "They're already fast. Then, when I give them that push they just hit the hole even faster."
Now, that's the definition of teamwork.
"Giving them a boost," said the standout junior quarterback. "That's what I'm trying to do. Every time I hand the ball off, I try to give them a boost and they just do it from there."
See why Marshall's coaching staff selected Cato as a captain this week?
As if Gardner-Webb didn't have enough to deal with in taking on Marshall at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Edwards Stadium, now the Football Championship Subdivision (I-AA) program has to worry about something else.
But let's get one thing straight. Cato's hands-on approach will be the only "push" in this game.
Bet on that.
KERSEY DONE?: It appears wide receiver Shawney Kersey's collegiate career could be over. After enrolling at Marshall as a graduate transfer from Penn State, it seemed Kersey was the answer to Marshall's vacancy at X-receiver.
But after struggling during spring practice and, then, falling off the depth chart in preseason camp, Kersey hasn't been a factor.
Now, according to sources, it appears he has left Marshall's program.
WHERE?: When the weekly Doc Holliday call-in radio show resumes at 7 p.m. Thursday from Christopher's Eats in Barboursville, let's hope the IMG-produced show gets the location correct.
The introduction for the initial show last week began, "Welcome to Gino's Pub ..."
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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