Jan. 6, 2014
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Want some facts and figures that deserve further review on Marshall’s 2013 football season?
Call it a football follow-up.
We’re not talking every record set by the Herd (10-4), Marshall’s first double-digit win team since the 11-2 club of 2002, but there’s a lot to delineate. And thanks to longtime Herd radio “voice” Steve Cotton for some of the research on what follows.
By the way, speaking of numbers, Cotton will call his 750th Marshall football or basketball broadcast Thursday night when men’s hoops plays at UTSA. Hopefully, he’ll make it to the game after he visits the Alamo, where Davy Crockett once was known for his shot-making.
Happy reading …
-The Herd’s five-win improvement from 2012 (a 10-4 finish, following 5-7) was among the best in major college football. The only three teams topping Marshall are Auburn at plus-9 (from 3-9 to 12-1, pending Monday night’s BCS Championship Game), Cotton Bowl victor Missouri at plus-7 (5-7 to 12-2) and Rose Bowl champ Michigan State at plus-6 (7-6 to 13-1).
Besides the Herd, the others at plus-5 were Boston College (2-10 to 7-6), Tulane (2-10 to 7-6), UNLV (2-11 to 7-6) and North Texas (4-8 to 9-4).
-There were seven bowl games this postseason between BCS automatic-qualifying conference teams and clubs from the other four FBS conferences (C-USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, Sun Belt). Only two of the BCS “outsider” teams won – the Herd over Maryland in the Military Bowl and Colorado State over Washington State in the New Mexico Bowl.
-Conference USA teams have six bowl wins over BCS conference clubs in history (the BCS history is 1998-2013 seasons), but the only one by a team that will be a C-USA member after this school year is by the Herd. The others were by East Carolina, UCF, SMU, Houston and Tulsa.
-For the first time in a history dating to 1996, C-USA had three 10-win teams (Marshall, ECU, Rice) and four teams with at least nine wins (add North Texas).
-Marshall scored 590 points in 14 games this season, the third most for a Herd team behind 658 in 1996 and 604 in 1991. Those were 15-game seasons in the program’s NCAA Division I-AA days. This was the sixth time a Herd team has scored more than 500 points – all since 1991.
-The 42.1 points per game for the Herd trails only the 43.9 in 15 games by the 1996 I-AA champions. The Herd has averaged more than 40 points four times, and for the first time did it in back-to-back seasons (40.9 in 2012).
-In the last two seasons, Coach Doc Holliday’s team has scored 1,081 points – the most for Marshall as a major college program in back-to-back seasons. The Herd’s 41.6 ppg average over the last two years is the program’s best in a two-year span, topping the 40.8 in 1996-97.
-The Herd outscored its opponents 590-321 in 2013, the first time a Herd team has outscored its opposition since 2004 (291-266), and the 269-point differential is the best since plus-326 in 1999 (463-137).
-Marshall’s 7,005 yards is the best for a Herd team in major college football, and the third time a team has topped 7,000. The others were 7,287 in 1996 and 7,129 in 1992.
-The Herd’s 500.4-yard average in 2013 trails only the 2012 team (534.2), and a 516.0 yards-per-game average over the two-year span is the best in MU history.
-Marshall finished with 2,883 rushing yards (205.9 per game), the first time as an FBS team the Herd has topped 200 per game and the best since the final I-AA team in 1996 averaged 226.3.
-Defensively, from 2012 to 2013, Marshall improved by 20.2 points in scoring defense (FBS ranking went from 123 to 31) and 88.1 yards per game in total defense (FBS ranking went from 103 to 35).
-The Herd finished with 32 sacks and 102 tackles for loss. It is the most sacks in a Herd season since the 37 in 2004 (Johnathan Goddard had 16). The 102 TFLs are the high since 109 in 2003 (Goddard had 20.5).
-Marshall’s 18 interceptions were a team high since the 1999 team had 24. Freshman backup free safety A.J. Leggett led the Herd this season with four picks. The last time a Herd player had more interceptions in a season was in 2004, when Chris Royal picked six.
-Of the Herd’s top 12 tacklers in 2013, eight were not on the field or barely played (Evan McKelvey) in 2012 (McKelvey, Darryl Roberts, James Rouse, Neville Hewitt, Cory Tindal, Taj Letman, A.J. Leggett, Tiquan Lang and Stefan Houston).
-Of the top 12 tacklers, only defensive end Alex Bazzie has used up his eligibility. Sixteen of the top 19 tacklers are scheduled to return.
-Deandre Reaves became Marshall’s single-season record holder in kick return yards (924) with his 124 in the Military Bowl. The record had been 819, by Andre Snipes-Booker in 2011.
-True freshman kickoff man Amoreto Curraj’s 52 touchbacks in 97 attempts are 43 more than Holliday’s first three Herd teams had combined. The 52 are a school record.
-Justin Haig finished the season with 110 kick points (11-16 FG, 77-80 PAT), No. 3 on Marshall’s single season list behind two Tim Openlander years (130 in 1996 and 115 in 1995, both 15-game seasons). Haig, who had 99 points in 2012, is the first Herd kicker with 100 or more points since Openlander’s 1996 season.
-Using the NCAA-qualifying standard of 1.2 returns per team game played, Devon “MooMoo” Smith’s 14.7-yard punt return average (on 26 returns) is the most by a Herd player since Mickey Jackson’s 15.9 (on 15 returns in 10 games) in 1966. The school record is 18.2 yards (12 returns in 10 games, barely reaching the NCAA minimum) by Larry Coyer in 1964.
-Senior Essray Taliaferro’s 1,140 rushing yards are the most by a Herd player since Ahmad Bradshaw’s 1,523 in 2006. Only six players have rushed for more yards in a Marshall season than Taliaferro – Chris Parker (three times), Bradshaw, Ron Darby (twice), Erik Thomas, Doug Chapman (twice) and Ron Lear.
-Tight end Gator Hoskins finished his career with 28 touchdowns in 99 receptions. The only player in Herd history to top Hoskins’ 28.3 percent touchdown-catches ratio was Randy Moss (31.5 percent on 168 receptions, 53 touchdown catches). Hoskins’ 28 touchdown catches rank third in Herd history (Moss 53, Darius Watts 47).
-Junior slot receiver Tommy Shuler (110 and 106 catches in the last two seasons) is one of only eight players in major college football history with two 100-catch seasons. No player has three. Shuler’s 230 receptions in three seasons rank fourth all-time at Marshall, trailing Mike Barber (249), Darius Watts (272) and Josh Davis (306). Shuler, Barber and Randy Moss are the only Marshall players with multiple 1,100-yard seasons. Shuler’s 2,425 yards ranks ninth on the MU career list.
-Shuler has nine games of 100 or more receiving yards, ranking sixth in Herd history. Barber is first with 21 games, followed by Watts’ 20.
-Rakeem Cato heads into 2014 as the FBS active leader in consecutive games with a TD pass, 32. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota ranks second, with 26. The FBS record is 38 consecutive games by Russell Wilson (the last 11 games for N.C. State in 2009, all 13 games for state in 2010 and 14 games at Wisconsin in 2011). The NCAA all-divisions record is 46 games in a row by Mike Reilly of Central Washington (Division II) from 2005-08.
-Cato has 13 300-yard passing games in his three seasons. The Herd record is 22, by Byron Leftwich, followed by Chad Pennington’s 17. Cato ranks third. Cato ranks third in career completions (886), third in passing yards (10,176), second in TD passes (91, trailing Pennington’s 115), third in total offense (10,533) and second in touchdowns accounted for (98, 91 pass, 7 rush; Pennington 119, 115 and 4).
-Cato shares the single-season TD pass record (39 this season) with Pennington. The Herd quarterback has three of the top five MU single seasons in touchdown passes; two of the top three in pass attempts; two of the top five in completions and two of the top five in passing yards.