HUNTINGTON, W.Va.– No one is going to confuse Rakeem Cato for Robert Griffin III anytime soon based on his ability to run the ball but Marshall’s junior quarterback is not afraid to take off and use his legs to make a play if necessary. Cato rushed nine times in the season opener against Miami (OH) for 59 yards. It wasn’t because offensive coordinator Bill Legg was calling Cato’s number, but because the Redhawks were dropping eight back into coverage.
“I just took what they gave us,” said Cato. “They dropped eight and I used my legs a little more and I think i did a pretty good job with that.”
In the past, Cato may have tried to force the ball down the field and throw into spaces where defenders could make a play on the ball. Now, a more mature Cato has a complete understanding of the offense and knows he doesn’t have to force the issue and can simply take advantage of the defense.
“He’s continued to mature and has grown up a lot. He’s taking what the defense gives us,” praised coach Doc Holliday.
“As a quarterback you can’t jam it in there if it’s not there. You’ve got to take what the defense gives you and let you play makers make plays. His feet are part of the offense now,” explained offensive coordinator Bill Legg.
Legg credit’s Cato’s feet for sparking Marshall’s offense in the second quarter against the Redhawks. After going three-and-out on the first three drives of the game, Marshall was faced with a 3rd and 8 yards to go for the first. Cato dropped back to pass but when the Miami defense put eight defenders into coverage Cato did the only thing he could do. He scrambled for a 15 yard gain and picked up the first down.
“The next play we ran the ball for 12 or 15 yards and it was a snowball effect from there,” recalled Legg.
Marshall would go on to score on the drive and the offense started to find its rhythm.
Cato expects to see more of the same from defenses all season that will be trying to combat Marshall’s passing attack. However, he’s fine with defenses that want to put seven or eight defenders in coverage.
“A lot of defenses are going to try to play mind games with us but we just got to stay focused and take it one play one at a time and whatever they’re giving us we just have to execute,” said Cato. “We have four running backs to run the ball.”
“He doesn’t care if we throw for 300 yards or run for 300 yards. He just wants to win and that’s why he is a captain this week. He’s done a tremendous job as far as leadership goes. I’m proud of how he has grown as a quarterback.”