HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Perhaps the biggest personnel question Marshall coach Doc Holliday and staff have to answer is who will return kickoffs. Question No. 1B is this: How will the Herd use Steward Butler? Butler has 10 career returns for 229 yards, but his 10th attempt put him in some hot water. His mishandled kickoff last week led to an Ohio touchdown, which finished a 10-point swing in a 34-31 loss. Wide receiver DeAndre Reaves returned kicks the rest of the night, gaining 77 yards on three attempts. Holliday said he may continue Saturday when the Herd takes on Virginia Tech at noon in Blacksburg, Va. "Probably," Holliday said. "Number one, he did a nice job." Then the coach talked up Butler, saying he expects the sophomore running back to regroup. "Bottom line, Stew Butler is going to be a good player for us," Holliday said. "He's got to get out there and get back to work today, and work extremely hard. He's going to play."
This week's captains will be quarterback Rakeem Cato, center Chris Jasperse, cornerback Darryl Roberts and defensive tackle James Rouse.
This will be Roberts' first time witnessing the coin toss, and Rouse has been selected for the third week in a row. Coaches selected weekly captains based on game performance and leadership before and during that game.
This is Cato's second week as captain, and Jasperse's second week in a row.
Holliday said defensive tackle Brandon Sparrow remains questionable for Saturday's game. Sparrow did not make the trip last week to Ohio, and was replaced in the starting lineup by Jarquez Samuel.
As it turned out, there was no drop-off. Samuel was the team's leading tackler with nine, a number almost unheard of for nose guards this side of Ndamukong Suh.
"Jarquez Samuel, he's done a nice job all the way through camp," Holliday said. "He played exceptionally well on Saturday."
Also on the defensive line, end Jeremiah Taylor (back) is a question mark. Offensively, center Cam Dees continues to practice and running back Remi Watson was to return to practice this week.
The Herd will get extra time to heal the aches, as it is off after the Virginia Tech game. MU will return to action Oct. 5 at home against Texas-San Antonio.
Holliday confirmed that defensive tackle Ken Smith has left the team. The 6-foot-3, 291-pound senior from Copperas Cove, Texas, played in three games in 2012, making one start and getting in on four tackles.
"Ken Smith has decided no longer to play football," Holliday said.
Smith's exit means that two of the three junior-college players in the recruiting class of 2011 have left the program. Offensive lineman Billy Rone did not return for this season.
However, Gage Niemeyer has been productive at left tackle, starting five games last year and all three this season. He is second on the team with 15.5 knockdowns.
It's official: Marshall was on the wrong side of a player-of-the-week performance in its loss to Ohio.
Cornerback Devin Bass was honored as the Mid-American Conference player of the week after disrupting the Herd's pass game all night - and it was all night, as he missed only two defensive snaps.
His fourth-quarter interception helped keep the Herd at arm's length. He tallied a game- and career-high 11 tackles, broke up four passes and locked down an MU receiver on almost every play.
And finally, a progress report on the indoor practice building: Some of the steel framework has risen above the eastern rim of Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Completion date is set for late summer to early fall of 2014.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.