Marshall Football Receiving High Praise


Marshall University Football is coming off a 10-4 season that has expectations through the roof for the upcoming season.

Before fall even starts Marshall’s football team is receiving more hype than it has in quite a while. Last season saw the Herd challenge for its first Conference USA championship after winning the east division. Marshall traveled to Rice for the conference championship, but fell to the Owls 41-24. The loss was just the second all year against a conference team, the other a loss to Middle Tennessee State.

The Herd was led last year offensively by quarterback Rakeem Cato who led the team to more than 40 points per game, the last two seasons. But the reason 2013 led to a bowl win and 2012 saw the Herd finish 5-7, was that last year’s defense tightened up under new defensive coordinator Chuck Heater allowing 20 points fewer per game and nearly 90 yards less than the season before. Marshall Head Coach Doc Holliday said the defense was the key.

“We also had 14 new players on that defense a year ago, Rouse was back healthy, 14 new players played a lot and contributed a lot and along with Chuck and that defensive staff, we’re a lot more athletic and we can matchup in space a lot better and I think we have a shot at having a good defense as long as long as we can stay healthy and continue to work hard,” Holliday said.

The Rouse that Holliday speaks of, is defensive lineman James Rouse, who after a career riddled with injuries had his breakout season last year. He’s picked as the Conference USA defensive player of the year. Teammate Cato, is picked as preseason offensive player of the year. And the team is picked as the favorite to win the East Division.

Rouse was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after dealing with so many injuries his first few years in Huntington, that included back and Achilles problems. Most players are only eligible for four-years with a team, sometimes five if they’re redshirted for a year, which means they sit out to gain experience. Sixth years are sometimes granted if a player has dealt with many injuries.

“I was overjoyed just because of all the injuries I went through in the past, I felt like I wanted to play more for Marshall than I was able to so getting a sixth year really gave me that opportunity,” Rouse said.

Last year’s Conference USA offensive player of the year, Rakeem Cato, has already been named to the:

  • Walter Camp Award Watch List
  • Maxwell Award Watch List
  • Davey O’Brien Award Watch List
  • College Football Performance Award QB Watch List

Cato says he just has to continue working hard.
“The best thing I can do is work on my craft every day and just get better and believe in my coaching staff and believe in the players around me, as long as I can do that at a high level and take care of practice every day and work hard every day, I think we’ll have a great shot at the end of the year,” Cato said.

The senior quarterback has thrown for a touchdown in 32 straight which is 6 shy of the record of 38.