Cato, receivers impress
HUNTINGTON -- Marshall's outside receivers have grown tired of hearing questions about trying to prove themselves this spring.
So, they did something about it.
They provided a sharply pointed answer during Saturday's scrimmage.
Veterans Davonte Allen and Demetrius Evans combined for nine catches and 197 yards with a touchdown as the offense showed a deep aerial attack that had been one of the key questions coming into spring practice.
Allen and Evans each set the tone early, hauling in big receptions from quarterback Rakeem Cato, who appeared to be in mid-season form.
"Everything just fell into place," Allen said. "I was working on staying focused, staying consistent and playing physical."
Cato finished the day 15-of-23 for 324 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 32 yards and a score.
With star wide receiver Tommy Shuler absent from the scrimmage due to family obligations, Cato took advantage of the opportunity to build chemistry with those outside guys.
"I told them be ready to catch the ball today because I'm going to throw it your way if you're ever one-on-one," Cato said. "I love my receivers over any DB that we're playing against. I'm going to take that matchup anytime. They were making great catches today."
The connection was seen early and often between Cato and the outside receivers. Allen hauled in a 21-yard pass from Cato to start the day and followed it with a 22-yard catch just two plays later.
Evans then capped the series when he caught a pass from Cato on the sideline and used a block from Angelo Jean-Louis to go 34 yards for a touchdown.
Slot receiver Deandre Reaves also caught a 24-yard scoring toss from Cato after flashing open across the middle and using his speed to get into the end zone. Reaves finished with five catches for 83 yards in place of Shuler.
"I've said all along Reaves is an excellent football player and he is," Holliday said. "We need to get him in the game more to be honest. Tommy needs to come over a little bit and let Reaves play."
While it was a solid day for Cato and the first-string offense, the backup quarterback situation did not clear up much as the young guys struggled.
Cato threw for 324 yards, but the backup quarterbacks combined to go just 13-of-33 for 119 yards with three interceptions.
Gunnar Holcombe finished 4-of-17 for 36 yards and an interception while taking the bulk of repetitions with the twos. Cole Garvin was 7-of-12 for 64 yards and two interceptions. Kevin Anderson was 2-for-4 for 19 yards in limited action.
Holcombe's interception was returned 15 yards for a score by cornerback Donaldven Manning, former Virginia Tech transfer. Garvin's two interceptions came at the hands of cornerback Michael Johnson and free safety A.J. Leggett.
"They've got to go do a couple of things that are really pretty simple to us as coaches," said Holliday, "but young guys out there for the first time, sometimes there's a lot of things going through their mind. They have to make a little better decisions on some run-pass options and some things, but they're smart guys. They'll be fine."
Marshall's defense had six sacks with two coming from end Armonze Daniel, who was one of several players that Holliday called out by name prior to spring as players who need to step up for the Herd.
D.J. Hunter led Marshall's defense with seven tackles and a fumble recovery while Tiquan Lang had six tackles and a forced fumble.
Marshall returns to practice at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday for workout No. 10 of the 15 allotted spring practices.
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