MU notebook: Dobson, Cato looking to reconnect this week
Throughout the football season, there are few things that Marshall's offense hasn't been able to do.
In fact, the only thing the Herd hasn't done is something that everyone thought would be the easiest coming into the season -- connect on the deep ball with quarterback Rakeem Cato and Aaron Dobson.
Cato and Dobson have just missed on several deep attempts, and both are confident the connection will rekindle itself Saturday when Tulsa visits Marshall.
"We have to hit them this week," Dobson said. "Once we hit them, they are going to keep coming. We just have to get that one and we are going to be on the same page."
The opportunities will certainly be there for Cato and Dobson to connect if the offensive line gives Cato time to get rid of the ball.
On Tuesday, Marshall head coach Doc Holliday talked about Tulsa's aggressive defense.
That defensive style is high-risk, high-reward.
It is a style that helped Tulsa shut down a strong Fresno State offense down the stretch in a 27-26 comeback win, but it's also the same defense that was burned for big plays last week by winless UAB in the Golden Hurricane's 49-42 victory.
UAB went up top on the first play of the game for a 75-yard touchdown from Austin Brown to Jamarcus Nelson. The two then hooked up late in the game on a 50-yard score to knot the game 42-42.
In all, the Blazers had 11 plays of 10 yards or more with eight through the air.
Furthermore, UAB had five plays go for 30 yards or more with four of those also being passes.
With Marshall leading the nation in plays of 10 yards or more with 111 in five games, the opportunities will certainly be there.
That's what Holliday emphasized to his team at practice Tuesday afternoon.
"We call it competitive excellence," Holliday said. "When you continue to make it over and over again in practice, then it happens in games. We have to do a better job when we throw the ball downfield in practice -- and we have worked on it -- that we complete it in practice and it will carry over to Saturdays."
It was no surprise that Cato was especially excited to hit the field Tuesday for the first dose of game-week preparations.
"Knowing that they are going to leave Nos. 3 (Aaron Dobson) and 9 (Antavious Wilson) one-on-one, we have to take advantage at all times," Cato said. "We've done a great job of doing that this year. We just have to eliminate our turnovers and hopefully, we'll win the ball game."
DOC IN STITCHES: After taking a shot to the face from an official that left him bloodied during Saturday's loss at Purdue, Holliday was sporting a shiner and nine stitches in his right cheek.
The injury occurred when Holliday jumped onto the field following Jermain Kelson's punt block, which resulted in Derek Mitchell's 35-yard return for a touchdown.
Adding insult to injury, Holliday was flagged for a sideline warning and a delay of game penalty. He was stitched up by team doctors following the game.
SHULER ON BILETNIKOFF LIST: Marshall end Tommy Shuler was added to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List. The award will go to the nation's outstanding pass receiver.
Shuler, who was named Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week, leads the nation in receptions with 51 after a 19-catch, 200-yard performance against Purdue last week. Shuler's 19 catches set the season-high mark nationally for all FBS players.
Marshall also has wide receiver Aaron Dobson on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List.
HERD PROSPECT INJURED: Boca Raton High School (Fla.) quarterback Kevin Anderson, a Marshall commit, will miss the rest of the season because of a broken collarbone, the Palm Beach Post newspaper reported.
Anderson injured himself when he was rushing toward the end zone on a scoring drive before the half of Boca's 40-17 loss to Dillard. Anderson was tripped, stumbled and fell on his shoulder.
Boca football coach and athletic director Lewis Burnham said the break was fairly clean and that Marshall has stayed committed to Anderson despite the injury.
"(Marshall running backs) Coach (and recruiting coordinator JaJuan) Seider's heart was out for Kevin," Burnham said. "For someone who's worked hard his whole life and done pretty much everything right, to lose the rest of his senior year is tough."
According to the Palm Beach Post story, Anderson plans to graduate from Boca in December and enroll at Marshall in January.
Grant Traylor can be reached at 304-526-2759.