After a disappointing opening weekend for the Hokies, it’s time to pick up the pieces and get back on track against an average Marshall team.
The Thundering Herd come into this game 1-0 overall after beating Southern Illinois 31-28 last weekend. It’s hard to tell how good Marshall is from this game but seeing that the Salukis are an FCS level team, Marshall isn’t going to be anything close to what the Hokies saw against Alabama last weekend.
Tech should be able to rebound nicely this coming weekend but in today’s game, nothing is certain anymore (see NIU vs Iowa game last weekend).
Also, for all of the VT fans that will be at this game, wear white. The White Out was a success last year and it appears that it could become an annual event… all the money goes to a good cause so why not chip in a few bucks and help out Herma’s Readers.
Without further adieu, on to the Marshall breakdown
Junior Brian Anderson was one of the lone bright spots for the Herd offense this past weekend as he finished his first game 27 of 36 passing for over 300 yards, three touchdowns and just one interception. Anderson has a strong arm and can sling it when his line gives him time too.
Behind Anderson on the depth chart are a slew of capable quarterbacks including sophomore Mark Cann and junior college transfers Press Taylor and Jacob Laudenslayer. Cann, who figures to be the primary backup, is a strong armed 6’5” quarterback that can make a lot of throws but is far less mobile than Anderson.
The Herd had to play without junior running back Darius Marshall who was suspended for the opener due to drug charges back in the spring. Marshall should be available this weekend in Blacksburg so he could be a player to watch if he does indeed start this game.
Sophomore Terrell Edwards-Maye got the start and really struggled against the Salukis defense last weekend. Maye ran for just 28 yards on 15 carries. His backup, redshirt freshman Martin Ward, was a bit more effective running for 54 yards on just 14 carries. As you can tell, the running game clearly didn’t get going last week with Marshall on the sidelines.
In his first career game at Marshall, junior WR Chuck Walker had ten receptions for 119 yards. Walker, who is listed at 5’10” and 177 pounds, probably won’t have as big of a game against the Hokies defense but he looks to be Anderson’s favorite target.
Other than Walker, the Thundering Herd are pretty ordinary at wide receiver. Freshman Antavious Wilson and junior Wayne Bonner are possession wideouts that could have a really tough time getting open against the Hokies talented secondary. Other than those two, the Herd does have a few other wide receivers that will dress but nobody really stands out on the list as somebody that could break our defense.
Cody Slate is s 6’4”, 229-pound senior that could be a first team All-Conference USA player by the end of the season. Slate caught nine passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns last weekend so stopping him is a must for the Hokies defense to completely shut down this Marshall team.
Marshall allowed two sacks, 72 yards rushing, 316 yards passing, and eight tackles for loss last week against an FCS opponent. The Salukis were able to consistently get pressure on Brian Anderson and completely shutdown the Marshall rushing attack. The Hokies defensive line should have a lot of success in this aspect on Saturday, as Tech’s defensive lines could be one of the best and deepest in the ACC.
The line did return most of the players from last years group that only allowed 13 sacks all season but they allowed two last weekend and shows some signs of regression this year.
Offensive grade: C+
With Marshall at running back this could be a fairly good offense in conference-USA play but the Herd just doesn’t have the ponies to hang with the Hokies defense. I could see them scoring a touchdown or two but I think this could be a long day for Marshall’s offense.
Senior DE Albert McClellan is one of the best linemen to come through Marshall University, as he should end up in the top five on the Herd’s career sacks list. McClellan needs just one and a half more sacks to advance to sixth on the all-time list.
However, other than McClellan, there’s not a whole lot on Marshall’s defensive front. The front seven of this defense really struggled against the Salukis giving up 105 rushing yards on just 28 attempts. The front four also only recorded two sacks in this game, one of which was McClellan’s 18th career sack.
Senior linebackers Brandon Burns and Mario Harvey are seasoned players but neither one is overly impressive. Burns finished with just five total tackles against Southern Illinois where as Harvey finished with just three and never seemed to be around the football much from what I saw on film.
This should be a pretty solid group by the end of the season but this group struggled a bit last weekend. By looking at the front seven, Tech’s three running backs should be able to have success against this group and get into the secondary fairly often as long as the Hokies offensive line holds up.
When your three of your top four leading tacklers for this season are defensive backs, you know your defense isn’t very good. Chris Dieker, the Salukis starting quarterback, shredded this secondary for 206 yards and converted 8 of their 14 3rd downs in the game as well.
So what’s the best cure for a horrible passing offense, well it could be this Marshall secondary. If the Hokies want to get back on track offensively and quiet the critics, they will need to have a big game against this secondary.
Defensive Grade: C-
While the front four is one of the best in Conference USA, the defense as a whole could struggle some against the Hokies speed and size on offense. I think the Hokies should be able to have a hundred yard rusher this weekend and would expect Tyrod to find some throwing lanes.
The Hokies really need to come out this Saturday and make a statement win against this Marshall team. If Tyrod can throw for around 200 yards and if either Williams or Oglesby can get over the 100 yard mark, the critics could back off of the Hokies flailing offense for at least a week.
Marshall – 10
Virginia Tech – 34
Junior RB Darius Marshall, sophomore CB DeQuan Bembry and junior LB Corey Hart were all suspended for the season opener due to team rules violations this summer. Sophomore CB T.J. Drakeford was expected to start against Southern Illinois, but was on the sidelines in street clothes due to a lingering foot injury. Sophomore Ahmed Shakoor started in his place opposite junior D.J. Wingate.
Head Coach Mark Snyder is 16-31 in his tenure at Marshall as he in now in his 5th year as head coach.
The first meeting between these two occurred back in 1913 in Blacksburg, Virginia. The Hokies won that meeting 47-0. Virginia Tech is 7-2 all-time against the Herd and has not lost to Marshall since 1940. The two most recent meetings were in 2002 and 2005. Both of those meetings were in Blacksburg and the Hokies won both games by an average of 26.5 points (41-14, 47-21).
Jaymes Brooks, the Hokies starting right guard, missed the majority of the 4th quarter against Alabama due to cramps. He practiced on Monday and is good to go this Saturday.
Greg Boone injured himself early on in the Alabama game and is expected to play this Saturday as well.
Marshall is ranked 100th in the nation in net punting and 69th in kick return yardage defense.