Players putting statistics second
HUNTINGTON — Tommy Shuler set a record for catches in a game by a Marshall University football player last week with 19 against Purdue.
The mark was also the high number of catches in a game nationally for all FBS schools this season.
Yet, there were no congratulations from teammates -- only jokes on the flight back from the game.
That's because in his 19-catch game, none of the receptions went for touchdowns.
"I've been getting teased about it all week," Shuler said. "People say 'You get all these catches but don't get in the end zone.' It doesn't matter to me as long as I catch the ball and keep the drive going.
"I don't feel like I have to get in the end zone. If someone else gets in there, it makes it that much better as long as we get seven points. It all goes to one team."
That team-first attitude is part of the reason for Marshall's success on offense.
Shuler enters a Conference USA home game Saturday against Tulsa with 51 receptions for 534 yards and one touchdown.
Tulsa (4-1, 2-0) and Marshall (2-3, 1-0) meet at 3:30 p.m., Saturday, in Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The game will be televised by the CBS Sports Network, which is Ch. 174 on Huntington cable.
Marshall has a wealth of skilled athletes offensively.
Aaron Dobson is a top-of-the-line deep threat at receiver to go along with Shuler who is more the possession receiver while Antavious Wilson can fit both roles. In the backfield, Kevin Grooms and Steward Butler are gamebreaker-type running backs.
But that's just it -- there's only one football.
Even for a team that snaps the ball nearly 90 offensive plays a game, it would be easy for players to get selfish and take a "me-first" attitude.
The Thundering Herd has avoided that though because the goal is common -- to put points on the board and collect victories.
"I've liked this team from day one," Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. "This team is a very unselfish team that's concerned about one thing and that's winning games and doing whatever it takes."
Marshall is averaging 11 different players having a reception in each contest while cycling in three different running backs once Travon Van made the shift to the defensive side of the ball.
Five players are accounting for more than 50 yards per game. Shuler leads the way with 106.8 receiving yards, followed by Dobson with 71 receiving yards, Kevin Grooms with 67 all-purpose yards (60.2 rush, 6.3 receiving), Steward Butler with 57.2 all-purpose (53.6 rush, 3.6 receiving) and Antavious Wilson with 53.4 receiving yards.
Furthermore, 13 different players have found the end zone this season with seven having multiple touchdowns to their credit.
That's all in addtion to quarterback Rakeem Cato leading the offense to averages of 555.6 yards and 41.0 points per game.
It's a recipe for success that has added up to the sixth-ranked offense in the nation, and they have no plan to slow down.