Herd Set For Showdown With Hokies
Marshall Game Notes
You could call Thursday night’s game against national power Virginia Tech a measuring stick game for the Thundering Herd. Both teams will enter the game with high national rankings and big national reputations to uphold.
The Herd, coming off a 50-17 victory over Appalachian State in the season opener, boasts one of the top passing attacks in college football. The Hokies (2-0), fresh off an impressive performance against LSU, is all about running the ball, defense and special teams play.
Marshall has “The Magnificent 7” and Tech has “Beamer Ball”.
The story lines stretch much further than the trip from Huntington to Blacksburg. Byron Leftwich against the Hokies defense. Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones against the Herd defense. The special teams showdown. Old friends Bob Pruett against Frank Beamer. Former Virginia Tech assistant Phil Elmassian, the man who helped instal the Hokies defense, against Tech. Tech defensive assistant Jim Cavanaugh against Marshall, where he spent two seasons (1979-80) as offensive coordinator.
For Marshall, the game will be the third appearance on ESPN’s Thursday Night football. The Herd defeated Toledo at Marshall Stadium in 1999 and lost to Western Michigan at home in 2000. The game will be Marshall’s ninth overall appearance on ESPN. The Herd has also played on ESPN2 seven times over the years.
Another of the many story lines in the game are the close ties many of the players on both teams share with each other. Marshall has 21 players on its current roster from the state of Virginia, many of who played with or against the 49 Virginia natives on the Tech roster. By contrast, the Hokies only have one player on their roster from West Virginia, quarterback Grant Noel, who likely will not play because of a knee injury.
The Herd will also be missing players when they square off against Tech. Senior receiver Demetrius Doss (Virginia Beach, VA) suffered a broken left collar bone after posting his first career touchdown reception. Junior defensive end Maurice McKinney (District Heights, MD) will miss the entire season after having reconstructive surgery on the knee he injured on the second play of the first day of training camp.
The good news on the injury front is that junior receiver Darius Watts (College Park, GA) who was a Biletnikoff semifinalists last year, will be available for action against the Hokies. He sat out the season-opener to give his sprained shoulder time to heal.
There is a discrepancy in the record books as to the actual series record. Tech lists the all-time series as 5-2 while Marshall records show a 4-2 series record. The difference is a 1951 game in Bluefield that Tech won 18-12. That game is listed as a scrimmage in Marshall records and therefore is not counted toward the series results. The Marshall record book shows two meetings in Blacksburg, two in Huntington and two in Bluefield.
Future Marshall schedules have the Herd returning to Blacksburg for a game in 2005 and a three-game series against Miami, Fla., beginning in 2007 and concluding in 2011 and 2012. The 2011 game against the ‘Canes is scheduled to be played in Huntington.
Since joining the ranks of Division I-A for the 1997 season, this will be the Herd's fourth ranked opponent. Marshall defeated then #25 BYU in the 1999 Motor City Bowl, but dropped games last year against #1 Florida and #24 Toledo.