101 snaps later, Herd offense ready for more
HUNTINGTON - With quarterback Rakeem Cato having acquired a foundation last season, Marshall looked to turn an up-tempo offense into a hyper-tempo attack.
Cato & Co. couldn't outscore West Virginia last weekend - tough to top 69 points, you know - but the Thundering Herd made the Mountaineers' defense work.
For 101 scrimmage plays. Yes, one hundred one.
Marshall marched 545 total yards, but that was partly a product of the obscene number of snaps. Not only did Cato and his many skill players have more chances to gain yardage, the other defense must have tired to some degree.
Most Herd offensive players say they stayed fresh the entire game.
"I felt great. I feel like I could have played four more quarters," Cato said Monday.
Then again, others admitted to feeling a little less sprightly.
"I know being on the bus after, getting back from the game, I lay in bed and it was like, 'Oh, my God!' " said tight end Eric Frohnapfel. "And I didn't play all the snaps - [center] Chris Jasperse played every snap. He was on the bus and he was like, 'Oh, my God, I feel like I'm 100 years old.' "
The breakdown: Marshall rushed 45 times for 132 yards, a hard-earned 2.9 yards per carry. Rakeem Cato fired 54 passes, hitting 38 for 413 yards and two touchdowns. His 38 completions were a Marshall regular-season record, topped only by Byron Leftwich's legendary 41-of-70 in the 2001 GMAC Bowl.
Blake Frohnapfel tossed two incompletions in his college debut, on Marshall's 100th and 101st snaps.
Had the Herd decided to use its three timeouts, that number could have been larger. As it was, MU squeezed off a scrimmage play every 19.57 seconds, based on its 32 minutes, 57 seconds of possession time.
Last season, the Herd averaged just 65.6 plays per game, 67.4 after removing the truncated game at WVU. Only once did MU top 80, and it took more than 40 minutes' possession time to compile 86 at Houston.
That puts the 101 plays in even starker perspective. But that's what the Herd is setting out to do, sometimes snapping with the play clock at 33-35 seconds.
The Herd's defense knows full well what opponents are in for this fall.
"It doesn't really surprise me, because the tempo we had in practice, it seemed like they had, like, 200 plays," said defensive end Jeremiah Taylor. "As soon as the ball hit the turf, it seemed like they were hiking it. It doesn't really surprise me, but it's pretty impressive."
Walk-on fullback Zach Wellman has left the program, it was announced Monday. The 6-foot, 237-pound sophomore from Spring Valley High saw action on special teams but was passed over in favor of linebacker Cortez Carter when the Herd went to a fullback formation.
With the fall semester started, six walk-ons have been added to the roster. They are:
McCleave and Yamoah have used redshirt seasons. Reports had McCleave enrolling at Marshall in January 2011 after a semester at Jireh Prep School in Matthews, N.C.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.