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Marshall excels in QB Lewis' absence

by Dan Shrensky

CORRESPONDENT

MORGANTOWN -- Comments about West Virginia quarterback Rasheed Marshall following a 90-minute scrimmage at Mountaineer Field Saturday were revealing.

Revealing not in the Keyshawn Johnson or Kris Benson sense, but revealing in that it gave a good indication of the sophomore-to-be's growing importance to the Mountaineers.

Marshall, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound quarterback, ran the first-team offense in place of front-runner Brad Lewis, who was out sick. He completed 8 of 18 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown and also ran for a score, displaying eye-popping athletic ability and confidence along the way.

But being occasionally spectacular was not good enough for a player who may see considerable action in the fall.

He acknowledged he botched several decisions, including one in which he opted to throw instead of running, by-passing an open field in front of him.

"It was a mental mistake," Marshall said. "Things happen so fast sometimes you just have to take a split second, take some time and think a little bit. That was a case where I didn't."

Coach Rich Rodriguez will be sure to remind him.

"He threw it when there was a lot of clear grass in front of him -- it happened three or four times," Rodriguez said.

"He said, 'I'm bootlegging out here and there's nobody in front of me,' and I'm like, 'And ... what's your problem?'

"Because it's a pass play, he doesn't understand it's a pass or a run. In the past guys like (former Clemson quarterback) Woody Danzler, (former Tulane quarterback) Shaun King got a lot of yards running on those so-called bootlegs. He'll recognize it next time I'm sure."

There were also cases where Marshall made the correct choice. On the first series, he froze the defense with a wicked fake to superback Avon Cobourne and scampered 34 yards to the end zone. He had the option of handing off or running on the play.

"I made the right read and we got some points," Marshall said.

Marshall also hit Phil Braxton with a screen, which turned into a 39-yard TD, and had a 26-yard gain on a draw. All in all, Rodriguez said Marshall's up-side far outweighs his lack of experience.

"He's got the ability to run and he's got an ability to make plays, even when things break down," Rodriguez said. "There were a couple of times when we didn't block anybody and he made a guy miss and made a big play out of it. That's something you can't coach."

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