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Standing gets Marshall moving

December 31, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - It was an experience that Rasheed Marshall can look at many ways if he would care to dwell on it.

West Virginia University's quarterback stood on the sidelines for the fourth quarter of the Mountaineers 34-7 loss to Maryland this season for any number of reasons.

He realizes that there are going to be those kind of days in the course of a career, but it doesn't mean Marshall has to like or settle for it.


"It was the only game I was ever lifted from," Marshall said, thinking back to the rough night Sept. 20 at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md. "It was a tough situation. As a coach, I know what was (coach Rich Rodriguez's) decision. He had to let some of the other guys get game experience. I took it in stride."

But to Marshall, being benched against Maryland was like waving the white flags. Starting quarterbacks never feel like they are out of a game, even when they are down by 34 points with 18 minutes to play.

He doesn't like it, but Marshall can rationalize.

"It happens in the NFL all the time," the junior said. "The time out taught me a lot. I know I can't come out and be pinpoint all the time. There are going to be those types of days."

This year's loss to Maryland could definitely be considered one of those types of days.

The Terrapins defense took Marshall completely out of WVU's offense in a time when the Mountaineers were struggling to a 1-3 start. Maryland held Marshall, who entered the game as WVU's most dangerous weapon because his mobility, to just 2 of 7 passing for 25 yards while throwing him back for (minus) 11 yards rushing, well under his averages for the season.

"They rushed in and boxed me off the corners of their defense," Marshall said. "That's all part of the offense. They shut that down and it caused confusion. We didn't execute and they shut down everything we threw at them."

When all else failed, Rodriguez shut down Marshall and opted to turn to junior backup Charles Hales, beginning with the final drive of the third quarter. Hales managed to engineer a scoring drive, finished with a 13-yard scoring run by Kay-Jay Harris with 4:02 remaining to avert the shutout.

Meanwhile, Marshall stood idly on the sideline, watching it all unfold while getting a new perspective for his position.

"You definitely have a different point of view from there," Marshall said. "It gave me a chance to say 'Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda.' I could just stand back and see how I could have done things a whole lot better."

Marshall applied the lessons from his unplanned education well.

He took the shortcomings from the Maryland loss and rounded himself into becoming the All-Big East second team quarterback by leading WVU to a 6-1 record down the stretch. He missed Nov. 8 win over Boston College because of a concussion.

Marshall graduated to consistency by throwing for 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns in his last seven games. He's thrown for 1,642 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2003, including three of the longest scoring plays in Mountaineer history.

And Thursday's rematch with Maryland in the Gator Bowl will give Marshall the opportunity to make "the experience" all worthwhile.

"I look at this as an opportunity," he said. "I know I can play better this time. This is my chance to bounce back and gain some redemption."

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