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Hokies a huge task

MU football
Sep. 18, 2013 @ 12:17 AM

HUNTINGTON -- As Marshall University head football coach Doc Holliday spoke Tuesday about this week's matchup against Virginia Tech, it was as though he was extremely familiar with the topic.

And, he was.

Holliday has played against the Hokies on several occasions and there isn't much variation from what he's encountered over the last several meetings. He knows the atmosphere in Lane Stadium is an intimidating factor, perhaps only being trumped by the Hokies' defense, which is ranked second nationally.

Kickoff in Blacksburg, Va., is noon, Saturday, between the Thundering Herd (2-1) and Hokies (2-1). The game will be televised on ESPNU.

"They're an excellent football team and have an outstanding environment," Holliday said. "I've probably played against Virginia Tech 20-plus times and it always starts with their defense. They are second in the country in total defense. Nobody has been able to move the ball very successfully against them so that will be a tremendous challenge for us."

Last week, fellow Conference USA member East Carolina was able to slow down the Hokies' rushing attack, but the Pirates were unable to generate any of their own offense. East Carolina amassed just 30 yards of total offense in the second half of its 15-10 loss to Virginia Tech.

Part of the Hokies' success was creating turnovers -- an area in which Marshall struggled mightily last week.

In Marshall's 34-31 loss to Ohio, the Herd outgained the Bobcats by 150 yards, but fell victim to four turnovers which led to 17 points in the loss.

Holliday said he has full confidence that his team will protect the football better this week -- especially after such a stinging loss.

"The skill players are always working on ball security and good players will come back and respond and not let it happen again," Holliday said. "That's what good players do. Those kids are good players and I expect them to be better this week."

In addition to speaking about the Hokies, Holliday announced the captains for this week.

Offensively, quarterback Rakeem Cato will be a captain after a solid performance in the loss to Ohio. Cato finished the game 30-of-45 for 366 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Center Chris Jasperse will be a captain for the second straight week as he looks to lead the Herd offensive line against a Virginia Tech defensive front that Holliday called one of the best in the nation.

Defensively, James Rouse will be a captain for the third consecutive week as he heads back to his home state hoping to grab a win against a team he followed as a kid.

Joining him as a defensive captain will be Darryl Roberts, who will have the task of locking down the talented receiving corps of Virginia Tech, which got into a rhythm last week against East Carolina.

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