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Two top defenses to square off

Sep. 20, 2013 @ 07:53 PM

BLACKSBURG, Va. — When Marshall University and Virginia Tech line up on the football field Saturday in Lane Stadium, there will be a definite defensive flavor to the contest.

The Hokies feature the nation’s second-ranked total defense, allowing just 190 yards per game.

That includes a matchup with No. 1 Alabama when the Crimson Tide amassed just 206 yards and was held to less than 100 yards rushing.

The challenge for Marshall’s offense, which is also ranked in the top 20 nationally, will be to avoid mistakes and put points on the scoreboard.

“If you don’t love playing a game like this, then you probably shouldn’t be in this profession,” Marshall offensive coordinator Bill Legg said.

Marshall and Virginia Tech, both carrying 2-1 records, meet at noon and the game is being televised on ESPNU, which is Ch. 272 on Comcast Huntington cable.

If Marshall is able to put points on the board, the pressure will go over to Virginia Tech’s side of the ball. The Hokies’ offense has struggled against FBS competition this season.

In last week’s 15-10 victory over East Carolina, the Hokies were only able to manufacture 53 yards rushing on 34 carries.

Much like the Virginia Tech defense, the Marshall defense has been extremely tough this season, ranking fifth nationally in total defense.

The Herd’s strong point has been its run defense, which stymied Ohio a week ago and is limiting teams to fewer than 70 yards per game on the ground.

Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas can certainly beat teams through the air, but the Hokies are much less effective when they become one-dimensional.

Forcing the Hokies into a one-dimensional offense while limiting mistakes on its own offensive end is the plight of the Herd.

“If you are going to beat them, you are going to have to execute,” Legg said. “If you expect to be successful, you have to meet fire with fire and fire is ripping off the ball, playing fast and playing sound.”