Call it the "red zone," the "green zone" or the "score zone," but Marshall hasn't been overwhelming in the shadow of the end zone.
Offensively, the Herd was hurt worse in 2010 by its lack of trips inside the opponents' 20-yard line - just 32. For the record, it scored 22 touchdowns and four field goals on those journeys.
Defensively, the Herd was backed up 50 times, giving up 28 touchdowns and 13 field goals. Both figures rank in the middle of the NCAA pack, more or less.
Marshall has worked often in 11-on-11 action in the red zone. Such was the case Thursday, when the Herd ran about 16 such possessions, from either the defense's 25 or 12.
"Part of the plan to win is when you get in the red zone, you don't want to kick field goals," Holliday said. "You want to come away with touchdowns."
The first and second strings received roughly the same chances, and Graham worked with the top offensive line. All told, the offense scored seven touchdowns, the defense forced eight field-goal attempts and one possession was not concluded.
Bearing in mind that Cato worked against a No. 2 defense that was shuffled somewhat, he had the better of it with six touchdowns. Those included an over-the-head catch by Antavious Wilson and a well-executed "stop" route by Jazz King, followed by a perfect throw to King's outside shoulder.
Cato also hit Craig Wilkins on another 25-yard toss, and hit him again on a 12-yard slant. Cato finished his scoring when Davonte Allen got loose across the middle on a 15-yarder. Cato benefited from an explosive Travon Van run, also from 25 yards.
Graham finally scored on a 12-yard pass to Gator Hoskins.
Perhaps it's Holliday's background as a defensive coach, but he wasn't happy with that side.
"I thought offense [won] today, and that's not good from the defensive standpoint," he said.
It's official: Marshall's 2012 schedule is easier than the 2011 version. Much, much easier.
MU officials confirmed that Western Carolina will kick off the Herd's home season on Sept. 8, 2012.
This Catamount program bears no resemblance to that in MU's Southern Conference days, and definitely not to the three WCU teams that beat current MU athletic director's Mike Hamrick's Herd teams three times by a combined 86-40.
Western's last winning season was a 5-4 mark in 2005. Since then, the Catamounts have played like kitties, going 10-46 overall and 3-35 in league play.
The Herd's nonconference schedule will consist of the Sept. 1 opener at West Virginia, the aforementioned breather on the 8th, a home game against Ohio on the 15th and a Sept. 29 game at Purdue.
The Herd returns to practice today with another 6 a.m. practice. The final two-workout day finishes with a 5:30 p.m. practice, probably much lighter, with a 1 p.m. scrimmage set Saturday.
Reach Doug Smock 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com.