MCGILL: Litton's TD Streak, Other Notes For UC-Herd
The Word on the Herd -- Sept. 30, 2017
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Chase Litton’s touchdown streak is still intact, but he is no longer the leader among FBS quarterbacks.
Litton has thrown four touchdown passes in Marshall’s first three games – at least one in each – to add to his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass, which stands at 24 games as the Herd (2-1, 0-0) prepares to play at Cincinnati (2-2, 0-1) this Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPN3.
But an omission by the University of Oklahoma has altered the list of the nation’s leaders in this category. Baker Mayfield, a Heisman Trophy candidate and the Sooners’ starting quarterback, has passed for a touchdown in 30 consecutive games, which is No. 1 in college football. Mayfield had never appeared on the list, which is compiled by people within athletic departments nationwide, through the first few weeks of the season. It turns out Mayfield has thrown for a touchdown in every game of his OU career – 30 games – which dates back to the start of the 2015 season.
Mayfield, a senior, has 13 touchdowns against zero interceptions this season.
The good news is Litton, a junior, is rubbing elbows with a quarterback who is at the center of the Heisman discussion in late September. Litton has thrown a touchdown pass in every game of his Marshall career, which gives him the current No. 2 spot on the list of consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
The next three on the list are Penn State’s Trace McSorley (19 games), Middle Tennessee’s Brent Stockstill (18) and Massachusetts’ Andrew Ford (15).
Marshall great Rakeem Cato holds the FBS record with 46 consecutive games with a touchdown pass. Cato had a touchdown pass in 50 of his 53 games with the Herd.
Litton could push his streak to 33 games by the end of the regular season, and possibly higher with the help of a conference championship game and bowl game. That means it is mathematically possible, with the benefit of good health, for Litton to challenge Cato’s all-time mark by the end of 2018.
THE MORE YOU KNOW
Cincinnati’s coaching staff has strong connections to Marshall and the Mountain State, beginning with first-year coach Luke Fickell. MU eighth-year coach Doc Holliday, like Fickell, spent time on the staff of Urban Meyer, so there are inevitable similarities in style, approach and scheme.
Holliday heaped credit on Meyer, who worked with Holliday at the University of Florida. Fickell was on Meyer’s staff at Ohio State.
“You just watch the way (Meyer) goes to work every day,” Holliday said. “He holds people accountable for what they are doing, whether it’s coaches or players. It’s a personnel-driven game, that’s where it starts. You better recruit. You better have players. I think he does a tremendous job of developing players.”
Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator, Marcus Freeman, joined the Bearcats after spending four seasons at Purdue. Freeman was the linebackers coach in 2015 when the Boilermakers lost to the Herd, 41-31, at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
UC’s offensive line coach is Ron Crook, a native of Parkersburg who played at West Liberty. Crook has coached at four schools within the Mountain State: West Liberty, WVU Tech, Glenville State and WVU.
Jon Tenuta, who coaches safeties for Cincinnati, was the defensive backs coach at Marshall in 1986 and defensive coordinator in 1987.
Willie Martinez, UC’s cornerbacks coach, was at Georgia from 2001-09 – first as the secondary coach and then as the defensive coordinator. He was on staff when Marshall visited in 2004. The Bulldogs held on to win that game, 13-3.
Another assistant with a history of going against the Herd is running backs coach Gino Guidugli, whom Marshall fans should recall from the 2004 Fort Worth Bowl. Guidugli was the starting QB and threw for two touchdown passes in a 32-14 win against MU.
Mike Waugh, Cincinnati’s Director of Scouting and NFL Liaison, worked for Holliday at Marshall as the Director of High School Relations.
D’Andre “Chocolate” Wilson has appeared in 18 games in four seasons at Marshall and has five tackles. He is this week’s special teams captain, as chosen by Holliday and the coaching staff.
Wilson is 23 years old and a fifth-year senior. The native of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, was a top 100 cornerback prospect out of high school and one of the most coveted prospects in South Carolina. Holliday lauded Wilson’s ability to stick with the program, receive an education and find a way to help the Herd on the football field.
“There’s a guy who has done a tremendous job for us,” Holliday said. “He’s a guy who has accepted his role. He’s a leader out there as far as the special teams unit. He’s a guy who has already graduated. He’s a tremendous kid. He decided to come back and help the team any way he could and his role is to be a special teams player.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
OK, so this is bending the rules a bit. This is a quote from Tyler King, a redshirt freshman running back, after he rushed for 101 yards on 14 carries in his collegiate debut Sept. 16.
King, as Herd fans might know, rushed for 100 of those yards in the fourth quarter, including a game-clinching touchdown run. It was King’s first action after he missed the first two games recovering from an injury, and he was not certain to receive any playing time against Kent State.
That uncertainty seemed acceptable to King, who talked to the media after the 21-0 win against the Golden Flashes and said these selfless and team-oriented words:
“I kind of felt like as the game was going on and as it was getting close, I was saying to myself I probably won’t get to play. That’s OK with me. They threw me in and I appreciate them throwing me in.
“I’m so thankful for my coaches for trusting me. I appreciate all they have done for me. When I wasn’t in (the game) I’m on the sidelines rooting for my team just like a teammate is supposed to be. It all ties together.
“You have to be a team player and when your opportunity comes – your number gets called – you make a play. I’m just thankful.”
FACT OF THE WEEK
Ryan Bee, Marshall’s 6-foot-7 defensive lineman, has endured a lifetime of comments about his last name. He embraces it.
This week he revealed he has never consumed Mister Bee chips – the only potato chip made in West Virginia.
OBSERVATION OF THE WEEK
The aforementioned Litton was asked this week to assess the Herd’s season through three games, which is one quarter of MU’s regular season schedule. Litton is third in Conference USA in passing yards per game (260.3) and the Herd has defeated Miami and Kent State. In MU’s lone loss, Litton threw for 350 yards against the ACC’s N.C. State. In the past five seasons, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott and Florida State’s Jameis Winston are the only other QBs to pass for 350-plus yards against N.C. State.
Litton is not satisfied, though. He explained as much when he graded Marshall’s three phases:
“Offensively – poor. Not executing, not all on the same page, not where this team needs to be to do what we want to do. Defensively – amazing. Special teams – amazing. Defense won us a game and special teams won us a game. (The offense) has been riding coattails this season; we can’t do that. We have to step up and be that offense we need to be to win games. We’re going to be put in situations Saturday to have to do that.”