Get ready for the two headed quarterback attack out of the Marshall offense.
Doc Holliday, Bill Legg and Tony Petersen have a problem that is both good and bad at the same time. They have two quarterbacks who possess a ton of athletic ability and all the potential in the world, but neither one seems to have the complete package that the coaching staff is looking for out from a number one quarterback. Holliday didn’t name a starter during his Tuesday news conference so, plan on seeing A.J. Graham and Rakeem Cato splitting the action for the rest of the season.
“Both of those kids bring a lot of positives to this football team. As a staff, we have to take advantage to what both of those kids can do,” says Holliday.
Graham got the start against Rice and The Herd’s dormant rushing attack suddenly came to life, led by Graham’s 129 yards and two touchdowns. Marshall gained a season high 217 yards on the ground and scored its first rushing touchdowns of the season.
“It’s always great when you get the running game going because the defense never knows what’s coming at them,” says Graham.
However, the passing game suffered as The Herd threw for just 111 yards and failed to throw for a score. Graham was quick to tuck the ball and run when pressured in the pocket and didn’t seem to check down to second and third receiving options.
“We have to improve in some areas as far as throwing the football is concerned and we have to work hard at that this week,” agrees Holliday.
Cato appears to be the better passer of the two quarterbacks. The true freshman threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns against Southern Miss and would rather hang in the pocket and find an open receiver, running only if he has to. Against Rice, when the situation called for the offense to throw the ball late in the game, it was Cato who took the field for The Herd.
“We thought we were going to thrown the ball a lot more at the time,” explained Holliday.
So how does the staff reconcile the different styles with which each quarterback plays and put the team in the best position to win?
Well, Holliday has some experience with such a situation. Holliday pointed out during his postgame news conference following the win over Rice that they dealt with a similar situation while he was on the staff at Florida with Ryan Leak and Tim Tebow.
“Believe me, we’re not in the category yet,” Holliday quickly emphasized. “We would bring Tebow in on certain situations and we would use Leak for others.”
It’s now up to the offensive staff to identify which situations call for which quarterback and put both players in positions to succeed. There’s nothing more frustrating for a player than to feel like they are not being used properly or that a scheme that doesn’t fit their style is being forced on them. Marshall’s challenge is to figure out how to effectively get the most out of both A.J. Graham and Rakeem Cato and win ball games.
Follow Dave on Twitter @wvmetro_dwilson. E-mail comments to email@example.com