Marshall notebook: Herd regaining its depth on offensive line
HUNTINGTON - When it travels to Rice this weekend, Marshall's offensive line will have at least seven top linemen to play, and perhaps an eighth. The depth will be welcome all the way around, and could help revive the Herd's running game.
John Bruhin said Monday he is 100 percent, which probably means he will start and Alex Schooler becomes the reserve at either guard. Right tackle Garrett Scott, lost in the first half of the West Virginia game, may begin taking contact today, signaling a possible comeback.
The line for almost all of the Herd's 27-24 loss to Ohio last weekend was, from left: Jordan Jeffries, Josh Lovell, Chris Jasperse, Schooler and Gage Niemeyer. Bruhin entered for Schooler in the fourth quarter.
"Coming into the Ohio game, we knew we were going to be a couple of people short with the injuries we had," Bruhin said. "Going into conference [play], they wanted everybody to be 100 percent; that's a lot of reasoning behind that, too. A bunch of us are back - [Corey] Tenney is still going to be out - hopefully, it will turn out great."
Tenney, essentially the next tackle behind Jeffries, Scott and Niemeyer, injured his knee in practice and had surgery. He is out until further notice, maybe for the season.
Marshall's setback was the Herd's first close loss since the 2010 overtime setback against West Virginia, and third downs played no small part. Marshall failed to stop half the Bobcats' 20 third-down conversion attempts, and nine of those yielded came on scoring drives.
But the fourth down that got away was the most painful. With Marshall ahead 24-17 in the fourth quarter, Tyler Tettleton threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Clark on fourth-and-5.
Ohio coach Frank Solich said Tettleton "tagged" Clark, changing the original call of a short pass. Clark got a step on MU cornerback Monterius Lovett and caught the ball in stride.
"Me, personally, it caught me off guard," said Herd safety Okechukwu Okoroha. "Because that's the last thing I'm thinking. I'm not thinking they're going to throw a grenade on fourth-and-5. That's a low-percentage throw on fourth-and-5. The game's on the line right there.
"That's a bad call on their side [but] they just executed it. Had to take some [fortitude] to do that, and they just executed. So kudos to them."
Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato still suffers a nagging anguish over his interception that essentially ended the game with 20 seconds left. Linebacker Jelani Moseley leaped high to snag a potential touchdown pass to C.J. Crawford.
"I should have checked the ball down to the running back, but me, I'm trying to make a play, always," he said.
With his 41 completions out of 65 attempts for 432 yards against Ohio, Cato has tightened his grip on several statistical categories. He leads the nation in total offense, as his 422.67 per game is 14 ahead of West Virginia's Geno Smith.
Cato also leads in completions (38 per game) and passing yardage (407.33).
Cato hit Tommy Shuler 13 times and Aaron Dobson 11 Saturday. Dobson could have had a few more, but he took a few breathers on third down. On the Herd's last third-down attempt, on the potential winning drive, Cato hit replacement Demetrius Evans for 8 yards to the Ohio 27.
Dobson confirmed he took himself out on that and other third-down plays.
"A couple of times, I pulled myself out. I had a cold a little bit," he said. "Getting winded [easier], I didn't want to be out there [when] I could have Demetrius at 100 percent. Sometimes, I've got to push through that."
Dobson gained 94 yards on his catches, an 8.5-yard average Ohio had to consider a victory. Twice Dobson missed longer passes from Cato - once a pure overthrow and another that went through his hands.
Other times, Dobson was limited to short yardage by good old-fashioned tackling, often by cornerback Larenzo Fisher.
"A couple I thought I was going to get out of them and ended up tripping," Dobson said. "I feel like I should have gotten out of a few."
Looking ahead, the start time for Marshall's Sept. 29 game at Purdue has been set for 3:30 p.m., with the game airing on the Big Ten Network.
Purdue's athletic communications office did not return a phone call for clarification, but it seems that Ross-Ade Stadium, one of five Big Ten stadiums without permanent lighting, will need to truck in some temporary towers. Otherwise, the 7:32 p.m. sunset at West Lafayette, Ind., will be uncomfortably close to the end of the game.
Marshall's longest game so far has been 3 hours, 34 minutes, against West Virginia. Purdue's has been 3:33, against Notre Dame.
The Boilermakers' game the following week, 4 p.m. against Michigan on BTN, will certainly have temporary lights. Reports say the school has to foot the tab for lights on BTN, while ESPN and other networks foot the tab in those games.
The Herd now plays its next three game at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.