Virginia Tech (3-0, 0-0) at Marshall Thundering Herd (1-2, 1-0)
Time: 3:30 p.m. EDT
Date: Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011
Place: Huntington, WV
Stadium: Joan C. Edwards Stadium
(Cap: 38,019, Open: 1991, Field: Field Turf)
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: VT IMG, XM TBA, Sirius TBA
Spread: Virginia Tech -18.5
Weather: High of 70, no chance of rain
Marshall: The Thundering Herd are 1-2 after falling at Ohio, 44-7. The Herd committed six turnovers in the first half and trailed 34-7 at the break. Ohio racked up 559 yards against the Marshall defense, thanks to 338 yards of offense and four total touchdowns from its QB, Tyler Tettleton. Marshall's true freshman QB Rakeem Cato was 9-for-21 for 116 yards, a touchdown and four interceptions. The Herd opened the season with a weather-shortened loss at West Virginia and won at home against Southern Miss in Week 2.
Trends: Marshall has won four consecutive home games, all against CUSA foes. The Herd have lost 18 consecutive games against BCS opponents dating back to their 2003 win at Kansas State while as a member of the MAC. Virginia Tech is 10-1 all-time against CUSA, with the lone loss coming in 2008 to East Carolina in Charlotte. The Hokies have won 13 consecutive
non-conference regular season games and eight consecutive true road games. They are trying to start a season 4-0 for the first time since 2006.
History Lesson: The Hokies are 8-2 all-time against Marshall, 0-2 in Huntington and 3-0 under Frank Beamer. The Hokies have won six in a row against the Herd with their last loss coming in 1940 in their last trip to Huntington. The last time the two teams met was 2009 when Tech won 52-10 in Blacksburg. The Hokies had 605 yards of total offense in the game, their most since 2001 and at the time the fifth-most under Frank Beamer. David Wilson received his first carries as a Hokie and led the team with 165 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown. Ryan Williams ran for three scores, including a 57-yard run that put Tech on the board first.
What to Expect
- Expect to see mostly shotgun from Marshall, but it's not a true spread offense. They'll use a tight end a lot to help with run blocking.
- Expect the Herd have a pair of good young running backs. The name Tron Martinez might be familiar to some of you. He was a star at Hampton High School and originally committed to ODU before being booted for the team after being arrested in April 2009. His story is detailed here. He is joined in the backfield by freshman Travon Van, who was a four-star recruit who committed to Florida but didn't qualify. The two were responsible for what little offense Marshall had against Ohio, combining for 140 yards on 25 carries.
- Expect a much better game from Cato. The freshman has struggled in the Herd's two road games, but was much more comfortable against Southern Miss, throwing for 275 yards and three touchdowns. Marshall has been using primarily short throws to help boost the freshman's confidence and I imagine we'll see more of that against the Hokies.
- Expect Tech's offensive line to be the key. Marshall's strength on defense is its line, led by defensive end Vinny Curry, who's a beast. They stuffed the run against West Virginia and Southern Miss, but were gashed by Ohio's pistol and zone-read option plays. Meanwhile, Curry already has three sacks this season.
Hokies Win If: They get pressure on Cato and have success running the ball.
Thunder Herd Win If: Logan Thomas struggles on the road and Martinez has a career game.
Dot-dot-dots: Wide receiver Dyrell Roberts will miss the rest of the season after breaking his arm against Arkansas State ... Danny Coale had a career-high seven receptions against ASU ... Jayron Hosley had two INTs against ASU for his third career multi-interception game ... Jarrett Boykin needs 57 yards to break the school's career record for receiving yards.