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Grant Traylor: Virginia Tech eats up other offenses

Sep. 19, 2013 @ 12:19 AM

Even though Virginia Tech's football team is nicknamed the Hokies, it might be just as acceptable to refer to the defensive unit as Lions when they are on the field.

That is because of the way the Virginia Tech defense stalks its prey.

In addition to not giving up an abundance of yardage, the Hokies' defense reads a quarterback and gets the mannerisms down until the perfect time to strike.

Then, the hungry defense devours the prey -- which in this case is the opposition's offense.

Whether it is a running play in which Bud Foster's defensive unit can time out blitzes and when to approach the line of scrimmage or a pass play where the cornerbacks can read, react and break on a football quickly, Virginia Tech has made a living off of being the death of opposing drives.

"Defensively, they are as good of a football team as you'll find in this country," Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. "I'm not just saying that because we are playing them. Their stats prove that. Alabama moved the ball up and down the field against Texas A&M, but had a lot of trouble against the Virginia Tech defense."

Marshall (2-1) and Virginia Tech (2-1) meet at noon, Saturday, at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

To date, the Virginia Tech defense has allowed just 190 yards per game with an average of 106 yards through the air. The Hokies have yielded just 34 first downs total through three games -- the same amount as the Herd had in its season-opening win over Miami (Ohio).

Virginia Tech has also grabbed seven interceptions, with three coming last week against Conference USA member East Carolina.

With Marshall coming off a four-turnover performance in last week's loss to Ohio, ball security and how to minimize mistakes has been a focal point of practice this week.

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

It's going to have to change because if not, the Lions who are disguised as Hokies will eat the Herd alive.

HERD-HOKIES CONNECTION: A pair of Virginia Tech grads -- Frank Loria and Rick Tolley -- were among the people who died in the 1970 Marshall plane crash.

Loria played safety for Virginia Tech from 1965-67 along with Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer and was a defensive backs coach for the Herd. Tolley, who played at Virginia Tech from 1958-61, was the Herd's head coach at the time of the crash.

NO MORE GRACE: Holliday confirmed following Wednesday's practice that tight end Stefone Grace has left the Marshall team.

Grace was a 6-foot-3, 234-pound sophomore reserve tight end out of Cincinnati, Ohio.

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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