Marshall welcomes Western Carolina to Huntington Saturday looking to continue where it left off after departing the Southern Conference in 1996, beating the Catamounts. The teams have met 20 times and share a record of 9-9-2, however, the Catamounts who dominated in the beginning of this series. Western Carolina began the series 8-0-2 against the Herd but has only found one victory since then. Marshall should continue its winning ways Saturday against the Catamounts.
Coming off a 69-34 beat down by the Mountaineers Saturday in the last meeting of the Friends of Coal Bowl, Marshall looks to rebound in its home opener. Marshall will be led by Rakeem Cato as he tries to guide the Herd to a win. Western Carolina opened its 2012 season with a win over Mars Hill 42-14 as its head to Huntington.
Western Carolina will have a tough task containing Cato during. Cato was 38 of 54 for 413 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Marshall's offensive line did a stellar job against the Mountaineers by only allowing Cato to be sacked one time. Marshall also showed its depth on the offensive line as they lost both right and left tackles to injuries during this game, and was able to contain the WVU defense.
Defense is what the Herd will want to improve from Saturday’s loss at WVU. The Herd gave up 655 total yards while only forcing the Mountaineers to punt twice. WVU scored in five of its first six possessions, not having to punt until late in the third quarter. Marshall needs a much better push from the defensive line against Western Carolina if they look to get a win this Saturday in Huntington.
The Catamounts ran the ball well against South Atlantic member Mars Hill, a division two school in North Carolina north of Asheville, piling up 344 yards on 63 carries. This is something the Herd must be concerned about as it gave up 331 yards rushing on only 35 carries. The Catamounts must equally be concerned about Cato and finding ways to containing him.
Football games often are decided more by Jimmys and Joes not X's and O's, as was the case in Morgantown Saturday. WVU was faster, bigger, and stronger. This should be the case this week in Huntington as Marshall should be the better of the two teams and secure its first win of the season. Cato threw for over 400 yards on the #11 team in the nation. Western Carolina's defense does not come close to the quality practiced in Morgantown.
Cato should have another huge game and the defense will work to shore up the line and have a better performance. Marshall wins big in the home opener and takes the outright lead in the series against Western Carolina with a 42-10 win.