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Marshall football must prepare for Kent State’s old-school triple option

AP photo
Kent State quarterback Nick Holley hands the ball off to running back Myles Washington against Clemson. The Golden Flashes use a triple-option offense.

HUNTINGTON — The toughest thing about preparing for the triple option may be figuring out how to prepare.

Marshall has that issue this week when Kent State comes to town for a 6:30 p.m. game Saturday at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. In an era of zone reads and pocket-passing offenses, the Golden Flashes are old-school.

“We all saw a lot of that in the ’80s and ’90s,” Marshall coach Doc Holliday said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “You don’t see a lot of that anymore.”

The first problem in assembling the plan for the scout team is most of today’s players have never played that type of offense, and not everyone has even played against it. The scout team, made up of redshirts, transfers and others who do not travel with the team, tries to simulate the opposing offense, sometimes right down to the jersey number.

Last year, speedy receiver Tyre Brady simulated Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson of Louisville. This time around, redshirting QB Garet Morrell will attempt to impersonate Kent QB Nick Holley.

Holley, a former running back pressed into QB duty last year because of multiple injuries at the position, certainly is faster. That’s the way it generally goes, but it is important that defenses can get a look at the scheme in something approaching game speed.

“He can run. He’s probably a 4.5 [seconds in 40-yard dash] who is physical,” Holliday said of Hollely. “That’s where it all starts. You’re going to have a hard time getting that look at the quarterback position. Garet Morrell’s going to have to do a great job this week.

“We started [Monday] night and got ahead a little bit, which helps the scout team because they got an extra night of figuring out what to do as far as running the different plays.

“And we’ll have our second-team offense at times emulating their offense … because the speed of that, seeing it for the first time, is hard to adjust to.”

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Marshall captains for the week are Artis Johnson, Chase Hancock and Brady. They played very well a week ago — Brady had 248 yards receiving, Johnson had three tackles for loss and Hancock had 10 tackles and a pass breakup.

Johnson becomes the second junior-college transfer to be a game captain for the Herd. In the three weeks, only kicker Kaare Vedvik has been a two-time selection, in games one and two.

“We’ve had eight [different] captains, and here we are in our third week,” Holliday said. “I feel good about the leadership developed on this football team.”

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Personnel and other items:

n Keion Davis, who had a 53-yard run and a negated kickoff return touchdown last weekend at North Carolina State, is poised to start.

“Keion has been very productive whenever he has touched the football,” Holliday said. “He has earned the opportunity to get touches.”

Holliday said Tyler King, who showed flashes early in preseason camp, may play.

n Holliday said Vedvik did not take kickoffs last week because of a non-football-related bruised foot. Robert LeFevre took over those duties in his college debut, averaging 62.2 yards per kick with one going out of bounds.

Kicking off out of bounds is one of Holliday’s pet peeves, but the coach took it easy on LeFevre in the ritual chewing-out, even putting an arm around him.

“What are you going to do with the kid? He’s all I had,” Holliday joked.

n Holliday plans to stick with sophomore Malik Gant and freshman Brandon Drayton as the starting safeties. Senior C.J. Reavis, the season-opening starter, returned in the second half after a targeting suspension but did not play much. He had one tackle, on the next-to-last play of the game.

“We always need players,” Holliday said. “I think at the end of the day, [Reavis will] play. We always play our best players, seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshmen. We need C.J., we need them all.”

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And finally, Kent State head coach Paul Haynes will indeed return to the sidelines for the first time this season.

Haynes has been on medical leave since Aug. 27 and has missed two games. The condition was not specified until this week, when it was revealed he had prostate cancer surgery on Aug. 28.

He no doubt has had prayers and get-well wishes from those in the tight-knit coaching profession, Holliday included.

“It’s great to see him back,” Holliday said. “I know he’s got a great message to everybody out there, as far as prostate cancer’s concerned — make sure you take care of yourself and get your regular checkups.

“We’re glad he’s back, and he’ll have an impact on that team because those kids think a lot of him.”

Contact Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsmock@wvgazettemail.com. Follow him on Twitter @dougsmock and read his blog at http://blogs.wvgazettemail.com/dougsmock.

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