HUNTINGTON - On a day in which coach Doc Holliday declared his Marshall team inconsistent in all phases, there was one constant.
Chris Alston, the first-semester slot receiver, was going to get the ball.
In a scenario nobody would have dreamed entering the spring season, Alston was among the most noticeable players in the Thundering Herd's 130-play scrimmage Saturday, catching 12 passes for 103 yards.
A 5-foot-11, 185-pound native of Lakeland, Fla., Alston certainly didn't expect to do double shifts on the first and second units. Not when he entered the program in January, not when spring drills commenced in March, and maybe not when he woke up Saturday morning.
But he knew his next move after the scrimmage. During all his work, he even overcame a "stinger."
"We didn't have a lot of choice," said MU coach Doc Holliday. "Tommy Shuler, he had a personal matter he had to take care of back in Miami, so he had to leave yesterday. He'll be back tomorrow.
"Jazz King is banged up and [Jermaine] Kelson's banged up, so we didn't have a lot of slots. [Alston] did a lot of good things; he has that knee brace right now, and it will come off in the fall. He was a dynamic player on film in high school; I probably haven't seen that speed out of him yet."
Oh yes, that brace. It's not small, and it's a big reminder why Alston was grayshirted - he tore his anterior cruciate ligament during his senior season at Lakeland (Fla.) High.
He's taking advantage of his overload of reps, though. Saturday, he broke off gains of 25 and 30 yards, both on simple slant patterns.
"He has improved a lot this spring," said receiver Andre Booker. "He improved big-time today. I was actually surprised. He still has a lack of focus on carrying the football, but that's going to come. But he surprised me today; he's doing a good job."
Alston and Booker accounted for a good chunk of the 45 completions from Rakeem Cato and Blake Frohnapfel. Cato was 22-of-31 for 255 yards and one touchdown, a 33-yarder to Aaron Dobson in the two-minute drill.
"They were playing man-to-man; they kind of rolled off," Cato said. "They were in zone at first, [but] they rolled off to a 'man.' They left [Dobson in single coverage], and I was surprised, and we took a shot and we connected."
Frohnapfel, still limited in his throwing range after shoulder surgery, was 23-of-31 for 156 yards. The passing game accounted for 411 of the 510 total yards gained in 111 scrimmage plays.