Chuck Landon: Noisy Lane Stadium a challenge for Herd
BLACKSBURG, Va. — Bill Legg knows how noisy Lane Stadium gets.
Does he ever.
“My redshirt freshman year we played down there,” said the former WVU offensive lineman, who is
Marshall’s offensive coordinator. “I didn’t play, but I was at the game. Then, two more times after that. ... my third year and my last year as a player.
“So, I’ve been at Lane Stadium as a player three times.”
But when Marshall takes on Virginia Tech at noon Saturday, the Herd will be playing in a 65,632-seat Lane Stadium that is larger and much, much noisier than in Legg’s playing days.
“The stadium is a little bigger now than it was in the early 1980s,” said Legg. “That end zone complex that they put there used to not exist. And what that’s also done is it has not only added bodies to the crowd, it has contained the noise.
“It used to be that they were as loud as they are today, but that end zone was open and so it didn’t contain the noise. Now, it contains the noise. Now, it all stays in the house. Not much of it leaks out.”
That creates a significant communication problem for opposing offenses. Or, at least, it could if some offensive coordinator wasn’t thinking ahead.
But guess what Marshall did during a 34-31 loss to Ohio a week ago?
The Herd used a silent snap count on offense.
“We actually played the entire game on silent-count last Saturday,” revealed Legg. “The snap count was on Chris (center Chris Jasperse) the whole game.
“Then, we practiced it on Tuesday again. Last week, we only practiced it when we went good on good (first-team offense vs. first-team defense). Then, when we went against the scout team, we had (QB Rakeem) Cato do it because we didn’t know if we need it or not.
“But after the first couple plays against Ohio, they felt better about going on silent-count. So, we went silent-count from probably about the second or third play the rest of the game.”
Talk about smart thinking.
That’s great planning and strategy in anticipation of the decibel levels Marshall will encounter Saturday in Lane Stadium.
“Yes, that will help,” said Legg. “We’ll need to go silent-count over there. It was purely accidental for last week. But we started working on it last week because we weren’t 100 percent sure whether we would have to do it or not. Then, we ended up doing it.
“But we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this week we were going to have to go on silent-count.”
That solves the noise problem. Next, there’s finding a way to handle the Hokies’ relentless defensive pressure. So, just how much will that affect Legg’s play-calling?
“A bunch,” replied Legg. “It makes us have to do more quick stuff. We’re going to have to throw the ball on-time, whether it’s three-step or five-step. You can throw deep off a five-step drop on-time, if they’re pressed up (man-to-man coverage).”
The key word is “if.”
“That’s where I go back to taking what they’re giving you,” said Legg. “If they’re pressed up, fine. But if they’re not pressed up, we’d better be throwing to the underneath routes or the timing throws that have a chance to get open versus the softer part of the coverage.”
That’s a good game plan. But will it be good enough? Probably not.
Marshall will lose, 30-10.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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