HUNTINGTON — At some point, Marshall coaches might dial quarterback Rakeem Cato back a bit, reducing his reps.
That time is not now.
When the Thundering Herd takes the field today for its 1:30 p.m. officiated scrimmage, you can be certain the senior from Miami will be in full charge of the first unit, talking trash with his defensive mates along the way.
He might yield to second-stringer Gunnar Holcombe late in the afternoon, emphasis on “late.” Otherwise, this is a big day for Cato, and he has much to accomplish.
For one thing, he has two back in the four-wide receiver sets. He can find slot receiver Tommy Shuler with his eyes closed and Craig Wilkins started 11 games last year at “Z” receiver, but Cato must polish his connections with tight ends Blake Frohnapfel and Devon Johnson, not to mention the candidates trying to fill the “X” receiver void.
And Cato, who would take every rep if allowed, needs to stay sharp anyway. His offensive coordinator wants him to take a full load for now.
“We’ve got some new stuff. I never want to stand still,” said Bill Legg. “Partially, that’s because I’m frickin’ OCD [obsessive-compulsive], and part of it’s I think if you stand still you give people a chance to catch you.
“So we’re doing some things different than what we did last fall. Twelve [No. 12, Cato] needs reps at doing those things. He needs to see all the variables in those particular pieces of the puzzle, because he hasn’t. As many reps as he’s had, as much experience as he has, there is some new stuff we’re doing that he hasn’t done prior to this spring. So that’s number one.
“Number two, the only way we’re going to get on the same page with him and our tight ends — we’re replacing some guys now — is again through repetition. So in a normal circumstance you’ve got a lot of guys back, there’s not much change in what you’re doing, maybe he can get by with less reps. Now, he can’t.”
That is one of many subplots in today’s scrimmage, expected to take place in magnificent weather. As usual, other issues involve the development of youth, such as:
n The play of Holcombe, who is expected to take the lion’s share of second-unit snaps and maybe a few on first team;
n Wide receiver Davonte Allen and Angelo Jean-Louis, trying to fill that X spot;
n Guards Michael Selby and Blake Brooks, as well as guard-turned-tackle Sebastian Johansson, against a promising but still-young MU defensive line (without sixth-year man James Rouse);
n Whether the combination of Corey Tindal at cornerback and Michael Johnson at nickel back can work out;
n And perhaps there will be a little kicking, with incumbent Justin Haig defending his role in kicking field goals.
The scrimmage is open to Big Green Scholarship Foundation donors and those who are looking to join, plus MU students with a valid ID. The scrimmage is not open to season-ticket holders who do not donate to the Big Green.
Contact Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.