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Grant Traylor: Marshall assistant will have homecoming at Virginia Tech

Sep. 18, 2013 @ 12:15 AM

When Marshall University takes the field at Lane Stadium for Saturday's noon football contest against Virginia Tech, it will be a Homecoming for one member of the Thundering Herd coaching staff.

J.C. Price, who coaches interior defensive line for the Herd, was an All-American defensive end for the Hokies in 1995 and lettered all four years from 1992-95.

Price was on the teams that started Virginia Tech's strong tradition over the last two decades -- a tradition under head coach Frank Beamer that has seen the Hokies make bowl appearances in 20 consecutive seasons, dating back to the 1993 Independence Bowl when Price was a sophomore.

After being selected in the NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers and two subsequent seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, Price returned to the Hokies' staff on two separate occasions -- one as assistant strength and conditioning coordinator in 1998-99 and another stint from 2002-04 as a graduate assistant.

This will not be his first appearance on the opposing sideline, however.

"Interesting enough, I have previous experience at it," Price said. "We played there when I was at JMU (James Madison). I've stood on the opposite sidelines so I'll be able to draw from that experience a little bit and try to get these guys ready for what they are going to encounter with the crowd and how great of a team we are going to play."

Price is actually undefeated as an opposing coach in Lane Stadium.

He was the defensive line coach for James Madison when the Dukes went into Blacksburg, Va., and upset the No. 13 Hokies 21-16 on Sept. 11, 2010.

On that day, James Madison brought a physical defensive attack that forced Virginia Tech into three turnovers.

Price and the Herd's defensive staff hope to employ a similar style.

"I'm just hoping to master physicality," Price said. "They are a physical team, an ACC team and they've got big guys up front who have played some football and a lot of snaps in big games."

This season, Marshall's interior defensive line has surged under Price's guidance and has been a big reason for why the Herd is No. 1 in Conference USA in total defense.

Now, Price gets to return to the place where he learned the lessons he's teaching the Herd defensive linemen.

That, in itself, is Price-less.

TUESDAY'S GONE: At the end of each Tuesday practice, the public address system at Joan C. Edwards Stadium blares out the song "Tuesday's Gone" by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Price dove into the meaning behind the song as it played over the P.A. following Tuesday's practice session.

"We pride ourselves on having as physical of a Tuesday as anyone in the country and I think that's one thing that's hopefully been different about our defense this year -- how physical and demanding and receptive the guys have been of our Tuesday," Price said. "It's a fun way to end it. Tuesday's gone so whatever you didn't leave on the field, you can't get back because it's gone now. I kind of like it. It's cool."

SMITH LEAVES HERD: Holliday confirmed Tuesday that defensive lineman Ken Smith left the program.

Smith, a 6-foot-3, 291-pound senior from Copperas Cove, Texas, has "chosen not to play football anymore," according to Holliday.

Grant Traylor is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or gtraylor@herald-dispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter (@GrantTraylor).

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