The Thundering Herd of Marshall University is not a stranger to Virginia Tech. There is a banner for the retired number of Frank Loria in the Hokie Hall of Fame. The schools will be eternally tied together by that tragedy, sure. However, it’ll also be tied by 12 meetings that have completed as recently as 2013. There have been a dozen games over 104 years played, most after 1951. The 1939 and 1940 Herd even drubbed the Hokies for their two victories.
That doesn’t give anyone good reason to say that the Thundering Herd is any sort of cupcake patsy scheduled to get that critical last win to attain bowl eligibility. Marshall is a Group of 5 (Conference USA) FBS program with a definite up slope to their winning ways. They are currently at 8 and 3. Their wins were very much in line with their peer teams, Western Kentucky, Miami (OH), Eastern Kentucky, and Florida International. Their one 42-20 victory keeps popping up in commentary though; Old Dominion.
The Herd has a good offense with starting quarterback Isaiah Green throwing for 2018 yards netting 14 touchdowns. He’s thrown 9 picks, but that’s hardly terrible considering the touchdown count. The Herd runs it. That’s their O. The Herd spreads the touches around to four different backs; Tyler King, Kieon Davis, Brenden Knox, and Anthony Anderson. King leads the stats 655 yards at a 6.9 yard clip, and 4 touchdowns. Davis has just over 300 yards. Knox, and Anderson all have over 250 yards each. Anderson seems to be their ground touchdown champ with 8. All average over 4 yards per carry.
Recently their coach, John “Doc” Holliday is in his third year with the team. Each season the Herd has gotten better from his 2016 start at 3-9 to this season’s 8-3 second place finish in their division of C-USA. The team is on the upswing after being rebuilt. They are hungry, and Tech is going to need to put on their big boy pants to play on Saturday. The Herd has something to prove. They’d love to visit that proof on us.
Their coach recently admitted that he’s pretty wise to the fact that Tech is going to work hard to shut down the ground game, and force Isaiah Green into throwing the ball. Marshall has some good receivers, and we all know how shaky our secondary has been – especially in the second half. Oh… yes, Green can pull it in and run if he has to.
In reality, Tech is going to have to put a balanced offense and defense together. The offense needs to take some advantage of Tech’s slight size advantage in the trenches. Frankly, we need to pitch the conservative game plans with leaden dives and slow developing ISOs and open the offense up to let Willis run some read/options and keep the ball. He also needs to roll in more than one direction. The Hokies would greatly benefit from finding a few more pages to use, in the play book. The current three or four are sort of figured out by the opposing defenses by now.
If the Hokies want to win they need to go all out on Defense, and on offense I have but one suggestion; “STAND ON IT, JUSTIN!”
It’s all going to happen on Friday starting at noon. It’s going to be rainy and miserable. We’ll see who slogs the best.