Seeing New Faces

Published 2:17 am Friday, September 11, 2009

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — When the Marshall Thundering Herd goes to Virginia Tech on Saturday, it’ll be a different team than the one that opened with a 31-28 win over Southern Illinois.

One difference will be tailback Darius Marshall who sat out the opener as part of a disciplinary action from the off-season.

Another difference will be the return of cornerbacks D.J. Drakeford and DeQuan Bembry, also suspended for an off-season incident.

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But even more important is the fact the Herd got a chance to see the area that needed to be fixed.

“Some things we have to get corrected. One is turning the ball over. We can’t do that like we did against Southern Illinois,” said Herd head coach Mark Snyder. “And things we worked on (Monday) were two-minute defense and defending third-and-long.”

Some of the things that will be corrected lie with the return of Drakeford and Bembry on defense and Marshall on offense.

“It will be nice to have T.J. and DeQuan back, but the biggest shocker to me was the drop off at the tailback position. That’s just not the product we have been seeing before. There was a significant drop off and I didn’t think that was going to happen,” said Snyder.

“I am happy to get our corners back. I am even happier to get Darius back. There is a reason Darius is our (number) one (back). Our corners held their own against SIU, but we will be facing better wide outs (against Tech).”

While the Herd will feature Marshall in the backfield, Tech has its own talented runner in freshman Ryan Williams.

“He’s as good as the hype,” said Snyder. “He’s a good back. Against a good defense like Alabama, he played well. He didn’t look like a freshman to me.”

Marshall quarterback Brian Anderson had a breakout game last week as he completed 27-of-36 for 316 yards and three touchdowns. His counterpart this week is pass-run threat Tyrod Taylor who was 9-of-20 for 91 yards.

“(Taylor) is a special player. He’s a guy that will drive you crazy,” said Snyder. “You can play perfect defense and then all of a sudden, there he goes. He single handedly beat Virginia (last year) with his feet.”

While Marshall was beating Southern Illinois last week, Virginia Tech lost 34-24 to Alabama and awaits a game next week with Nebraska.

Not only is playing Tech a tough assignment, but so is the environment. Virginia Tech is one of the toughest stadiums for opposing teams to win.

“It ranks right up there as one of the toughest places to play in the country. It’s a day game and in talking with coach (Frank) Beamer, their night games are a little more special than their day games,” said Snyder of the Herd’s 1:30 kickoff.

Tech — a 19-point favorite — is having a white out game against the Herd who will counter with all-green uniforms including helmets.