08/30/2014 12:27 AM
Marshall -24 over Miami Ohio:
Rakeem Cato will begin his senior season coming off one of his more efficient campaigns in 2013 leading Marshall to a 10-4 mark. Playing out of CUSA, the Thundering Herd will visit Fred Yager Stadium in Oxford facing the Miami Ohio Redhawks who dropped all 12 regular season and 8 MAC conference games last season. Given the success of Marshall's quick strike offense, it's safe to say we can forget about the mercy rule of running up the score. There is not much love lost between these two teams since Miami Ohio crushed Marshall 66-6 back in 1971. Marshall has won 6 of the last 7 meetings in this series including a 52-14 thrashing in last season's opener at Joan C Edwards Stadium.
Cato (298-499 3916 39 TD 9 INT) matched Chad Pennington's single season record for TD passes in his junior campaign. He will once again look to feast on a porous Redhawks defense that yielded 36 ppg including a secondary that yielded an average of 261 passing yards allowed and 29 scores through the air. Cato's 6-1 frame makes him just as dangerous calling his own number as through the air indicative by his 6 rushing TDs in 2013. Many fans as well as the coaching staff feel he has gotten better with each season for consideration to be involved in the Heisman discussion at season's end. Of course it helps when you have talent and speed around him that returns in the backfield with RB Stewart Butler (87-765 8.8 8 TD), and at the receiving core featuring Tommy Shuler (106-1165 10 TD), Craig Wilkins (32-408 2 TD) and freshman Angelo Jean Louis. Gator Hoskins (50-821 15 TD) was recruited by the Miami Dolphins, however the mindset for Marshall remains a limited huddle quick strike offense that leaves little margin for error by opposing front lines and secondaries. The Thundering Herd averaged 42 ppg and 500 total yards last season.
Despite the misfortunes for Miami there is hope with the emergence of new head coach and former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin taking over. ND Transfers Andrew Hendrix and Alex Welch are expected to start at QB and TE respectively. It's hard to imagine the Redhawks offense could do any worse considering they averaged a shade under 10 points in their winless campaign. Spencer Treadwell will get another shot at it after an inefficient 2013 that saw him gain just 187 yards and a TD. QB Austin Gearing was the team's leading rusher with 478 yards. Receivers Dawan Scott (425 yards, two touchdowns to lead the team), David Frazier and Alvonta Jenkins will hopefully improve to give Hendrix some options through the air.
Although Marshall's SOS wasn't really tested there were improvements on defense last season. They held their opponents to 23 ppg but recorded 32 sacks, 102 tackles for a loss, and held opponents to a 52% completion rate. The front seven is led by DE Ra'Shawde Myers and tackle James Rouse, while also featuring young talent like sophomore Gary Thompson. Leading tackler Evan McKelvey (97 tackles) Neville Hewitt (85 tackles) and Jermaine Holmes (84 tackles) plan on wreaking havoc against the opposition. For Miami, Kent Kern (98 tackles, five tackles for loss) will anchor the linebacking corps with help from Josh Dooley. Up front, Bryson Albright was a standout defensive end last season, leading the team with 5 sacks. He and Mitchell Winters (13 tackles) will have their work cut out for them trying to contain Marshall's ground game. Miami allowed 223.3 rushing ypg in 2013.
Marshall really won't need to make too many adjustments in their approach considering the bulk of their personnel returns on both sides of the ball. The Thundering Herd would love nothing more to make a more prestigious bowl game considering their loss to Rice in the 2013 C-USA tilt. They did defeat Maryland 31-20 in the Military Bowl and would love to send Cato off with higher hopes in pursuance of a promising pro career. Miami can only build on last season's nightmare, although it will be an uphill battle to win given they are breaking in a new QB and head coach. The Redhawks can only hope to make plays on defense and try to slow down Cato and company in Marshall's pace to earn big chunks of yardage. Marshall should cruise to victory by at least 5 TD, and don't expect any backdoor covers in case John 'Doc' Holiday decided to call off the dogs. Let's kick off the 2014 campaign on a winning note, as we look to best last year's 14-4 (78%) mark on weekly best bet selections. That brought me to 48-21 (70%) since 2010 for those of you keeping tabs. Best of luck however you play!
'10 12-5 .704
'11 12-6 .667
'12 10-6 .625
'13 14-4 .778
48-21 .696 ATS