HUNTINGTON, W.Va—Compare Rakeem Cato’s passing numbers through the first two games of last season and the first two games of this year, and you might think the Marshall offense has come back to earth a little from the juggernaut it was last season.
You’d be severely mistaken.
Through the first two games last year, quarterback Rakeem Cato had thrown for 790 yards and five touchdowns. He was averaging 395 yards passing per game. In 2013, Cato has thrown for 483 yards in two games, 241.5 yards per game.
For one Marshall is much more balanced on offense through the first two games this season. In two games in 2012, Marshall rushed for 317 yards and none of the stable of running backs had come close to cracking the 100-yard mark. This year, Steward Butler has eclipsed 100 yards in each of the first two games and The Herd has rushed for 528 total yards.
“I’ll take it every day of the week. I hope it is that way the rest of the season. You won’t hear one complaint out of me. I guarantee you won’t hear one complaint out of the kids on offense because right now that’s all their concerned about. The defense feels the same way, they’re concerned with the fact we’re 2-0,” asserts Legg.
Actually Marshall’s numbers for total offense nearly mirror those of a year ago. Through two games this year Marshall is averaging 550 yards of total offense, last year it was 580 yards per game. Marshall has also scored 21 more points this season through the first two weeks.
Don’t forget the improved play of Marshall’s defense as well.
The Herd’s defense has not allowed the opposition to move the ball downfield. That has translated into great starting field position for The Herd. Last week, Marshall started four drives inside Gardner-Webb territory. Marshall started nine of its 15 offensive possessions at its own 35-yard line or better.
“Part of the reason the stats aren’t as good, the defense is playing its butt off right now. I don’t know how many short fields we’ve had this year. You score 55 points but you only have 500 yards that normally doesn’t compute but the reason that’s the case is around half our drives have only been about 50 yards,” says offensive coordinator Bill Legg.
While Cato’s numbers might be down from last season the only numbers that matter are up. The Herd has two wins to start the year and I know there isn’t anyone complaining about that.