BLACKSBURG, VA—East Carolina’s game plan against Virginia Tech was clear. The Pirates were not going to allow a maligned Hokies’ running game to beat them. If Virginia Tech was going to leave Greenville, N.C. with a win it was going to be because of quarterback Logan Thomas and the passing game.
Thomas was just good enough to get the job done as Virginia Tech snuck out a 15-10 win.
What can Marshall take away from East Carolina’s effort and apply for this week’s matchup in Blacksburg?
The Hokies’ running game can be held in check. Virginia Tech was limited to 53 yards on 34 carries against East Carolina. That’s just 1.6 yards per rush.
“They had eight people around the box most of the day and that’s tough,” said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer.
Virginia Tech’s leading rusher was Trey Edmunds who only managed 42 yards 21 carries and had no running room all day long. Now, the Pirates are no slouch when it comes to run defense. East Carolina is only giving up 82.3 yards per game.
“I think most people will take that approach,” predicted Beamer. “I hope we’re dangerous enough that you’ve got to think about.”
Beamer wants his team to make defenses pay for putting eight men In the box and going one-on-one on the outside. Can Marshall matchup on the outside and allow defensive coordinator Chuck Heater to bring pressure from different angles and force Virginia Tech’s offense to become one dimensional.
“I think the on other side of that if people are going to commit eight people to the box you’ve got to be able to throw it,” said Beamer. “I’d like to think that we’ll get to the point if we get a hat on everybody we can gain some yards.”
The Herd has been able to neutralize opponents rushing attacks so far this year. Marshall is only allowing 67 yards rushing per game. Last week against Ohio, the Bobcats only gained 60 yards on 36 carries for 1.7 yards per rush. Certainly Virginia Tech will be the toughest test of the season but Marshall should have the confidence it can contain the run and force the Hokies win the game through the air.
“Their (Marshall) defense is very much improved from last year,” complimented Beamer. “They impress. This is a very good football coming in here Saturday.”