Believe it or not, No. 3 Florida State (10-0) isn’t the only undefeated team in college football. In fact, not only is No. 24 Marshall undefeated, but the Thundering Herd have also won 11 games.
“Well, we’re excited where we are,” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said on The MoJo Show. “At the beginning of the year, we had extremely high expectations, and our team and our coaching staff have embraced those expectations. We just worked extremely hard to go to work every week and have a great week of preparation so we could come out and reach those goals and dreams. We got a lot of football left to be played.”
Marshall hosts Western Kentucky (6-5) this Friday at 8 p.m. ET and plays in the Conference USA Championship on Dec. 6.
“We’re just excited with where we are right now,” Holliday said, “and we’re looking forward to being in the same situation two weeks down the road.”
Holliday has had quite the run at Marshall. He went 17-20 in his first three seasons but has gone 21-4 in his last two.
“The worst feeling I ever had was three years ago,” he said. “We had one of the top offenses in America, we were one or two in America, we led the country in passing – but we were the worst defense in the history of college football. The worst feeling I ever had as a head football coach was sitting around (and trying to figure out) how to outscore people. That is an awful feeling. I knew I had to get that fixed to be able to play and compete for championships. So we got a lot better a year ago, played good defense a year ago and we’re playing really well right now.”
That’s putting it mildly. Marshall ranks fourth in the country in scoring offense (44.9 points per game) and is sixth in scoring defense (16.5). The Thundering Herd also boasts one of the most underrated players in America in quarterback Rakeem Cato, who has 34 touchdowns (28 pass, six rush) to just eight interceptions on the season. He has thrown for 2,897 yards and rushed for 400.
Cato, a 6-1, 176-pound senior, has matured a great deal since stepping on campus four years ago. Cato’s mother died when he was 13, his father was in prison and Cato bounced from home to home. The transition to collegiate student-athlete was not an easy one.
“I’ve been recruiting South Florida and the Miami area since 1979 and the early ‘80s,” Holliday said. “I just love what those kids are all about. They’re all about toughness. They love football. It’s important to them. If they can survive to get out of high school and put them in position where they can go to college somewhere, you know they’ve overcome an awful lot. For every Rakeem Cato that’s out here, there’s thousands of other kids who get no chance to go anywhere.”
Cato has thrown at least one touchdown in 43 consecutive games.
“It wasn’t easy for him at first,” Holliday said, “but I’m just so proud of how far he’s become.”
Holliday was also asked if he’d like to see the College Football Playoff expanded. After all, if the field were open to eight teams or 16 teams, there’s a good chance Marshall would be in it.
“I think at some point, it will (expand),” Holliday said. “I always like to see them put more emphasis on winning games. I’ve coached for a long time. I’ve never in 30 or 40 years heard of good losses. What’s a good loss? You either win or you lose. To me, there ought to be an awful lot of emphasis put on winning games. Winning is the No. 1 thing.”