2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 4 - Virginia Tech at Marshall
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Sept. 24 Virginia Tech 30 … at Marshall 10
CFN Analysis: Is Virginia Tech actually any good? The defense has been its usual great self, and the running game is fine, but the passing attack has been hit-or-miss and hasn't been tested yet. Against Clemson, the Hokies have to be ready for a shootout, and that means Logan Thomas has to be fantastic. He was good against the Herd, completing 22-of-33 passes for 229 yards and a pick, but can he keep up the pace with the Tigers? David Wilson hasn't gotten enough pub yet, but that'll change with at least 100 rushing yards a given. This was a good, tight win over Marshall with few mistakes. Tech is ready to go big game hunting.
Marshall didn't get anything going on the ground with just six net yards, and while Rakeem Cato is under trial by fire, he needs help. Aaron Dobson had a nice game with five catches for 103 yards and a score, and Omar Brown was phenomenal with 17 tackles, but the defense couldn't get off the field. MU converted just 3-of-15 chances and couldn't stop the Hokies from pounding away. Cato is still young and still learning, and as strange as the first month has been, and as inconsistent as the team has been, a little more offensive punch and a few big plays could bring a win over Louisville next week.
(AP) HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Now that the preliminaries are over, it's time for No. 13 Virginia Tech to find out just how good it is.
David Wilson rushed for 132 yards, Josh Oglesby scored two touchdowns and No. 13 Virginia Tech improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2006 with a 30-10 win over Marshall on Saturday. But it was another uneven, lackluster victory over an opponent from a non-BCS conference for the Hokies and the pressure's about to ratchet up with No. 21 Clemson due up next.
"We had some good plays and we had some that were not so good," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "We were not consistent. My point is that if you can be good sometimes, you can do it all the time."
"Consistent" was the buzz word for the Hokies after the game. Virginia Tech displayed some big-play ability and kept the turnover-prone Thundering Herd (1-3) in their own end for much of the game. But Marshall continued to expose Tech's vulnerabilities in the worrisome way East Carolina and Arkansas State did earlier this season.
And the Hokies showed they could bungle things all on their own as well with a missed field goal, a fumble and an interception late that kept them from running away from Marshall.
Meanwhile, No. 21 Clemson is rolling after beating No. 11 Florida State and then-No. 21 Auburn in consecutive weeks.
Not to worry, though, say the Hokies.
"This is one of the most explosive teams we've had since I've been here," Oglesby said. "I'm not worried. But we've got to get it together now."
The message may have been consistent afterwards, but the Hokies were anything but during the game.
Wilson rushed for big yards and a touchdown as expected, but had that late fumble which came after a long run in Marshall's end. Quarterback Logan Thomas completed 22 of 33 passes for 229 yards and rushed for a score, but missed some open receivers and threw a late interception that also kept Clemson from running away.
The Hokies continued to lack an offensive spark and proved vulnerable to big plays on defense, despite pushing their streak of games with an interception to 11. Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato hit receiver Aaron Dobson with a long pass deep into Virginia Tech territory on the game's fourth play, but Jayron Hosley punched the ball out of Dobson's hands after chasing him down from behind and recovered the fumble.
"I don't know what that did to us, to be honest," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. "It would have been nice to have kept the ball, that's for sure."
It took even more help from Marshall for Virginia Tech to get on the board early. Herd punter Kase Whitehead shanked punts on consecutive drives, helping the Hokies to an early lead.
The first traveled 23 yards to the 50, setting up Thomas' 5-yard run to open the scoring midway through the first quarter. Whitehead's next kick traveled just 29 yards to the Hokies 42 and Wilson carried four consecutive times to end the drive, scoring from 3 yards out late in the quarter. Marshall blocked the extra point to keep it 13-0.
Oglesby added a 4-yard score with a nifty spin move early in the second quarter to make it 20-3, but even that drive was kept alive by a third-down pass interference call on Marshall. Even so, it looked as if the Hokies might take a comfortable lead into the locker room. But Cato cranked up the deep passing game again, moving the Herd 71 yards in 38 seconds, capping the drive with a 29-yard scoring pass to Dobson, who beat his man easily at the line in single coverage and jogged into the end zone to cut Tech's lead to 23-10.
Things weren't that much better for Virginia Tech in the second half. Oglesby added a 5-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter to seal the win. But the team executed a clumsy finish with an interception, a fumble and a missed field goal, and Cato, who passed for 245 yards, drove the Herd to the Hokies 13 late before they turned the ball over on downs late in the fourth.
The Hokies defended their cupcake schedule this week after needing a late touchdown to beat East Carolina of Conference USA 17-10 -- a win that nevertheless dropped them two spots in the Top 25 -- and failing to run away from the Sun Belt Conference's Arkansas State in a 26-7 win last week. The Tigers, meanwhile, come to Blacksburg, Va., after beating No. 11 Florida State 35-30 on Saturday.
"We've got to have all the parts working next week," Thomas said.
The day started poignantly for Beamer, who laid a memorial stone at the Marshall University Memorial to the 75 players, coaches and members of the university community killed in a 1970 plane crash about 2 1/2 hours before the game. Two of the coaches killed in the crash -- coach Rick Tolley and assistant coach Frank Loria -- were Virginia Tech graduates and Loria and Beamer played together in the Hokies secondary in the mid-1960s.
Loria was the school's first consensus All-American.
"Two bright coaches," Beamer said at the cemetery. "... Their lives were taken away too soon. Of course, I was great friends with Frankie and knew of Rick. (Loria was) just a guy that had a great future as a football coach and he was just a good person. He had a bright future and he was just taken way too soon."
Virginia Tech (3-0) at Marshall (1-2) Sept. 24, 3:30, CBS Sports Network
Here's The Deal … Virginia Tech has successfully navigated a soft non-conference so far, but it's not as if the school has elevated its play over the past couple of weekends. After running circles around Appalachian State on opening weekend, the Hokies have stumbled their way through victories over a pair of heavy underdogs, East Carolina and Arkansas State. A trip to Huntington, Tech's first since 1940, affords Frank Beamer's kids one last chance to work out the kinks before embarking on pivotal back-to-back league games with Clemson and Miami.
Marshall remains an enigma for Doc Holliday in his second season as the head man. The Thundering Herd was outclassed by West Virginia in Week 1, surprised Southern Miss a week later and then got decimated by Ohio on Saturday, 44-7. It's been a predictable level of inconsistency and frustration from a team that's starting a number of raw and inexperienced players on both sides of the ball.
Why Virginia Tech Might Win: Marshall is struggling mightily to move the chains or put up points. Rock bottom for the offense could come with this Saturday's visit from the Hokies. Tech has been downright ornery on D, yielding just 30 total points to rank in the top 10 nationally in rush defense, scoring defense and total D. The Herd will be no match for the speed and range of the Hokies defense. The unit has few holes under coordinator Bud Foster, blanking receivers with CB Jayron Hosley, and generating backfield pressure out of LB Tariq Edwards and CB Kyle Fuller. Marshall has no running game to speak of, and an error-prone rookie behind center. Points will come at a premium for the home team on Saturday.
Why Marshall Might Win: If the Herd is going to shock a ranked team over the weekend, it'll almost certainly be fueled by the play of the defense. Yeah, the unit got whipped by the Bobcats last Saturday, but six turnovers from the offense gave them no chance to succeed. The Hokies come into the game sputtering on offense, especially in the passing game. Marshall will be looking for help from its pass rush, specifically DE Vinny Curry. The senior NFL prospect has the ability to take over games, especially when the other team's quarterback is unproven. Tech's Logan Thomas has a great future, but has been sporadic in his debut as the starter.
What To Watch Out For: Thomas, who could carry the fate of the 2011 Hokies on his thick right shoulder, should get multiple opportunities to beat the Marshall defensive backs downfield. The Herd has been soft in coverage this month, allowing seven touchdown passes through three games. Aiding Thomas will be a receiving corps that's produced a different go-to guy each week. Marcus Davis, Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin have all had their moment, and will continue to put up solid numbers provided the young hurler cooperates.
What Will Happen: The Hokies don't appear to have a killer instinct on offense at this point in the season, so routs may not be so commonplace in 2011. The defense, though, is going to make sure that a close call doesn't result in an unexpected loss. Virginia Tech will clamp down on the mealy Marshall offense, forcing turnovers and plenty of punts. Thomas and RB David Wilson will take care of the rest, spitting out just enough crowd-quieting plays to complete the non-schedule without a blemish.
CFN Prediction: Virginia Tech 31 … Marshall 13
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