Chuck Landon: Look for Memphis to come after Cato
Want to hear the one curse word, one profanity, one obscenity in a quarterback’s vocabulary worse than all the rest?
Before covering grandma’s ears, here’s a vital caveat.
It’s not a four-letter word.
Nope, not this epithet.
Instead, this profanity is composed of five letters.
It is b-l-i-t-z.
If Marshall’s Rakeem Cato shuddered at the mere mention of the word, who could blame him?
After all, the sophomore quarterback was folded, spindled and mutilated a week ago as UCF sacked him four times and registered an additional 10 quarterback hurries.
Which leads us to the bad news about this week’s opponent. Memphis is a blitzing defense. And, no, I don’t mean the Tigers blitz now and then like UCF did. Instead, Memphis lives and dies with the blitz.
The Tigers will blitz from anywhere and everywhere on any down and from any position.
That’s what Cato will have to contend with when Marshall hosts Memphis at 2 p.m., Saturday, in Edwards Stadium.
And he knows it.
“Memphis is a three-down team and they like to blitz,” said Cato, who has been sacked 15 times in eight games. I know that. They do like to blitz.”
What Cato means by “three-down team” is Memphis’ defense acts as though every down is third down.
“They’re a third-down look where they’ve bringing people from all over the place,” explained Marshall head coach Doc Holliday. “Memphis does a great job of creating chaos with what they do because they’re a three-down front and they bring a lot of pressure off the edges and they bring people from all different places.
“They’re constantly creating pressure for you which creates negative plays. Now, they’ve given up some plays because of that, but they also create negative plays with what they do.”
It’s feast or famine.
So, does that bother Cato?
Not as much as people would expect. Perhaps, that’s because he still doesn’t believe UCF’s blitzing should have been so successful.
“It wasn’t hard last week, we just made it hard,” said Cato matter of factly. “Everything they were sending we could have picked up. Our offensive linemen and running backs could have picked them up.
“It wasn’t like they were sending an all-out blitz or complicated blitz or stuff like that. Everything they did we saw in practice every day from our defense. We knew what to do to adjust to it. We just didn’t do it.
“We needed to focus more. We needed to be prepared more.”
That particularly will be necessary Saturday because Memphis defensive end Martin Ifedi has 7.0 sacks. As a team, the Tigers have a total of 14 sacks.
Now, imagine Memphis’ defense watching videotape of UCF blitzing Marshall. It’s like spilling blood in the water.
“I don’t know what they’re going to do,” said Cato. “Hopefully, we will pick it up. And, hopefully, we’re going to prepare more and just focus on us right now and getting the offense back straight.
“Hopefully, the game will take care of itself.”
Wouldn’t that be nice?
Las Vegas seems to agree with Cato, as oddsmakers have Marshall as a 21-point favorite. Maybe it’s because Memphis never has won in Huntington. Maybe it’s because Marshall is on a mission to end an embarrassing three-game losing streak.
Or maybe Memphis uses this all-or-nothing style of play because the Tigers simply aren’t very good.
Whatever the reason, Marshall desperately needs a victory and should get one today.
Marshall will win, 38-28.
Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827 or email him at email@example.com.
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