HUNTINGTON, W.Va.—It’s hard to believe but what happens in fall camp starting next week could have an impact on 2015 season. Heisman Trophy hopeful Rakeem Cato is the undisputed leader of The Herd entering his fourth season as the starting quarterback. Behind him, though, is very uncertain.

While redshirt-sophomore Gunnar Holcombe and true freshman Cole Garvin showed improvement throughout spring drills, neither was able to establish himself as the backup quarterback. That leaves the battle to be the guy off the bench if the unthinkable happens wide open.

“It’s going to continue for a while but it can’t continue after the first couple of weeks, we’ve got to settle on who that guy is because we’ve got to get him prepared,” Holliday said about the competition for the backup quarterback spot. “It’ll continue through the first couple of weeks then we’ll make a decision.”

Gunnar Holcombe threw for 220 yards and three touchdowns in the Green/White game this spring.

Holliday was hoping either Holcombe or Garvin would separate himself from the other back in spring practice but the fact of the matter is neither has a single snap in a college football game to his credit. The only quarterback other than Cato on the roster that has game experience is James Madison transfer Michael Birdsong, and due to NCAA transfer rules, he’s not eligible until next season.

For the last three seasons, Holliday had been spoiled with the luxury of having talented backup Blake Frohnapfel on the sidelines. Frohnapfel had tools necessary to be a starter and when Cato was injured against East Carolina in 2012, nearly led The Herd to a comeback win that to clinch bowl eligibility. After earning his degree, Frohnapfel wanted the chance to compete for a starting job and decided to transfer, leaving the number two job up for grabs.

“The good thing is we think they both can play,” Holliday commented about Garvin and Holcombe. “Both of them can throw the ball, have the arm strength, seem to have the intangibles, seem to have the leadership skills, seem to do all that. When you think you have two you don’t have any at that position. Somebody needs to separate themselves pretty quick.”

Adam Rogers

Cole Garvin enrolled at Marshall in January and had to learn the offense quickly during spring practice.

Both quarterbacks will start the fall ahead of where they began the spring, especially Garvin. He enrolled at Marshall in January had a lot of concepts thrown at him right away. He handled the onslaught of information and by the end of spring started to look comfortable in the offense. In the Green/White game Garvin completed 10-of-17 pass attempts for 109 yards and a touchdown. Holcombe went 11-for-18 for 220 yards and three touchdowns.

“Having an opportunity to be here all summer and get that under his belt, hopefully they’re more advanced when we start on Sunday.”

The best-case scenario for The Herd would be for Holcombe or Garvin get some game reps if the opportunity to pull the starters presents itself. The worst-case scenario is the one of the two young quarterbacks is pressed into duty.

That could send Marshall’s season in a drastically different direction that it is currently in.

The quarterback who is able to establish himself as the No. 2 signal caller will also have a leg up come April when Marshall begins the process of finding a new starting quarterback for the first time in four years.

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  • Herd98

    First off let me say that the spring game showed me that Holcombe is almost there and Garvin isnt far behind which is crazty because he just graduated High School last December. Now let me comment on all this MU vs WVU crud that I see below my post. This article has brought up a touchy subject in Morgantown and that is having a QB. You see they dont and it hurts because they know without one they wont win many games. I know Ive been there as a Herd fan, we to have suffered through bad QB's and not winning like we want to. I dont dislike WVU football I dislike WVU fans. That has only been reinforced by attending games in Morgantown and seeing the level of disrespect for the college football world they display week in and week out. When I saw a 40 some year old man drunk off his rocker shaking his privates at a 70 year old Women it made it clear. It's not like they dont know they are the worst fans it has been in several publications. Every school has their fair share of these types of fans but WVU has a majority. All you have to do is go to a game and it is literally in your face the entire time. So dont go around pointing fingers on an MU article about us bringing up WVU when you are the instigators and the problem. Go Herd!!!

  • Jason

    If Cato goes down this year, it may be pretty rough having one of the youngsters step in. If Cato stays healthy, this could be a special year.

  • Jason

    Ok. While my comments are waiting "moderation". Most of the comments on this article are from WVU fans.

  • Jason

    Go herd! One game at a time and run the table! This is the year, I called this year out when Cato was a freshman and doc was hitting his recruitment groove. This is the year docs recruits are all upper class. I called it then that his year was going to be special. I hope it is. Run the table and get to a big bowl, I will be there. GO HERD!

  • Just Wondering

    Just wondering how many times Marshall fans will bring up WVU in their posts on this article about Marshall? Gonna get out my calculator and try to keep up.

    • Mike

      SOS MU 122 out of 128
      C-USA ranked 10 of 10 as weakest in college football. That says it all.

      • roll

        WVU and Marshall not in SEC or ACC. That says it all

    • pc

      No, it will only be the EERdiot fans who bring up WVU in an article about Marshall!

      • Just Wondering


        • Y'all please go away now


        • Jason

          Yep. Keep coming back. You really do not care about MU at all, riiight.

          • Interesting123

            If we are being honest the only fanbase with an inferiority complex in this state is WVU fans. They are most certainly inferior to just about everyone they so desperately want to be their peers, including the majority of their conference. In their heart they understand this. Yet, they have to do something to placate their unrest. Thus, they show up to the comment section of every MU related article and thump their chest about SOS and C-USA. We all know the truth, as admitted by their athletic director, the record wont be much better than last year for WVU. So they make excuses about SOS and talk about how big the budget is for the department relative to MU hoping to ease the pain.

          • Just Wondering

            You're so blinded by your inferiority complex when it comes to Moo that you don't realize that most West Virginians actually follow BOTH teams. It doesn't necessarily mean you are a fan of both as most people are WVU fans. Therein lies the root of your inferiority complex. You are indeed little brother.

            Can you say in all sincerity that you never read an article about the Mountaineers? And that you never post negative comments on those articles? I'll bet you never miss a WVU game on TV. You probably sit there wringing your hands and wishing the worst. I'd also venture to say that most all of the negative posts on WVU articles are from Moo fans.

          • Y'all please go away now

            He obviously really does have his calculator out. He was able to count to one.

    • Bill

      If you want to see a bunch of folks more worried about a team other than their own go to and check out the Marshall board Thunder in the Mountains.

      • Just Wondering

        Just checked it out. Dude, you are so right. Act out on your inferiority complex much Marshall fans?

        • Jason

          Yep, "qua" is another was a function of typing a long post on a small iphone at midnight...and interestingly enough..."qua" is not picked up by spell check on an iphone. So...that being said...want to keep focusing on that or would you like to address the hypocrisy of your posts on this article?

        • Just Wondering

          "Qua"? Another typo? Do I have to explain to you that maybe it's that you're not quite as smart as you think you are. It's called double checking your spelling before you send it off. I learned that in grade school. You can't be expected to be taken seriously if you do shoddy work.

        • Jason

          So, pit instead of the word pot is all you actually got from that. Do I have to actually explain that was a typo? Letter I and O are beside each other on a keyboard. Wow.

        • Just Wondering

          How does a "pit" call a kettle black?

        • Y'all please go away now

          You fail to see the irony in the fact that you're a wvu fan posting in the comment section of a Marshall article about Marshall fans being obsessed with wvu?
          Of course you do, you're a wvu fan.

          • Jason

            Lol. No doubt. They are admitting to going to a website ""...but yeah...they don't care about MU at all.

        • Jason

          Irony is WVU fans posting on a Marshall article about MU fans talking about WVU. As of now, all the posters on this article besides me and PC are eer fans. So, you are a eer fan posting on a MU article about MU fans posting about WVU? Haha.

          • ron51

            so why are you wvu post all the time

          • Y'all please go away now

            lol beat me to it, damn ants ruining the picnic