Marshall Study: Experienced, Aggressive Defense

Virginia Tech and Marshall will face off on Saturday. (Ivan Morozov)

A lot’s changed since the last time Virginia Tech played the Herd. Fuente’s given way to Pry, and there are only a few guys—Alan Tisdale, Nasir Peoples, and Cole Beck, that I noticed—left on the team from 2018. It’s a similar situation for Marshall, with John “Doc” Holliday replaced by Charles Huff and all of their key parts from that game long gone. Marshall is favored to win, and it’s a reasonable favoring given the Hokies’ stumbles and Marshall’s strengths.


When I scouted Grant Wells way back when, I said he was maybe the fourth-best player on the Marshall offense. That wasn’t a dig at Wells so much as it was recognition that there were a few future NFL guys blocking for him and dynamic runner Rasheen Ali (#22) helping him mightily on the ground. Those blockers are gone (as is the very good receiver Corey Gammage) this year, but Ali remains:

But Ali doesn’t have the hogs in front of him that he did in ‘21. They aren’t a bad OL, but they aren’t dominant. This season, the running game has cranked up in the fourth quarter, with very few notable runs happening before then. They’re big up front, but they don’t look like they have the overall athleticism that they did in ‘18, and they haven’t looked in-sync when blocking. The latter probably gets ironed out some in the bye week, but the former is going to linger. TCU transfer Altrique Barlow (LG, #65) might be the weak link, so watch to see if the Hokies can get penetration around him.