Ball stays in Cato's hands
HUNTINGTON — Heading into Marshall’s spring football practice, several quarterbacks were expected to get a ton of looks during the 15 sessions.
Starting quarterback Rakeem Cato wasn’t one of them.
Since the senior is firmly entrenched as the No. 1 quarterback, he was expected to do more watching than actually taking snaps while the three backups took care of most of the quarterbacking duties.
However, that hasn’t been the case during the first eight practices. Instead, Cato has taken a large bulk of the repetitions.
There’s a simple reason for that, according to Marshall offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Bill Legg.
“It’s critical that we do that right now because we need to get better as a football team,” Legg said. “For us to get better as a team, we need to get better as an offense and for us to get better as an offense, we need to get better individually.
“That includes every single guy out there, so I can’t hold him back. That would be the wrong thing for him and, more importantly, it would be the wrong thing for our football team.”
Legg said part of the main reason that Cato is logging a bulk of the repetitions — a number that Legg guessed was one of every two or three reps — is because the Herd’s offense has tweaked its scheme to take advantage of new strengths for the 2014 season.
There also has been a concerted effort to build depth in the wide receiving corps, according to Legg.
Whether it is getting newcomers Angelo Jean-Louis and Deon-Tay McManus some needed reps with the Herd’s starter or if it is continuing to improve the timing of budding receivers such as Davonte Allen or DeAndre Reaves, Legg said the need is there for those guys to have Cato helping them find their stride.
“We’re working extremely hard to improve not only the top end, but the depth of our receiving corps,” Legg said. “Without him getting the timing and the rhythm with those guys through repetitions, it does us no good.”
Cato was expected not to see as many repetitions this spring due to the battle for the No. 2 quarterback position after former backup Blake Frohnapfel announced his transfer to UMass prior to spring ball.
It was thought that Gunnar Holcombe, Kevin Anderson and Cole Garvin would see the majority of the snaps in an effort to solidify the No. 2 position behind Cato.
However, Legg hinted that the loss of Frohnapfel’s knowledge of the offense and the staff’s comfort level with him to aid the younger receivers in their development, likely has led to the increase in reps for Cato as well.
With Holcombe, Anderson and Garvin still learning the offense, it would be hard to have those inexperienced quarterbacks trying to lead receivers who also are trying to learn the system.
“In a perfect world, if nothing had ever changed he’d (Cato) probably be taking fewer reps,” Legg said.
Marshall head coach Doc Holliday added that while practices will continue to be led by Cato the majority of the time, the scrimmages — such as Saturday’s at 1:30 p.m. in Edwards Stadium — will be the chance for the young guys to show what they can do.
“What those young kids need, they need those scrimmage reps,” Holliday said. “They need to go out and play and actually play the game. Probably as we go along on Saturday, you’ll see a little bit less of him and a little bit more of those other guys.”
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