TONY'S TAKEBy for WVUsports.com
September 07, 2010 06:40 PM
West Virginia is 9-0 all-time against Marshall on a football field. In fact, WVU has won by at least 11 points in the last eight games, including the infamous 92-6 triumph in 1915.
Marshall’s best ever chance to win came in 1997, when Chad Pennington and Randy Moss helped give the Herd a fourth quarter lead, but faltered in the end losing 42-31.
All of that history is presented as a foundation for the following declaration. Friday‘s game in Huntington represents Marshall’s best ever chance to beat West Virginia.
Actually there are a number of reasons and they begin with first-year Marshall coach Doc Holliday. Upon his departure from Morgantown to Huntington, he brought along four members of the WVU staff. JaJuan Seider was promoted from graduate assistant to assistant coach, while George Shehl, Paul Johnson, and Mookie Tate were hired as graduate assistants. You can also throw in former Mountaineer player and assistant coach Bill Legg, just in case there wasn’t enough Gold and Blue in the Marshall football office.
All totaled, five members on the Marshall staff possess the most intimate knowledge of WVU’s offensive and defensive philosophies that any opposing team has ever had. In addition, no team has ever owned a better scouting report on the Mountaineer personnel.
Where’s the weakness in the odd-stack front defense? They know that.
What’s the best way to slow down Noel Devine? They got it.
What doesn’t Geno Smith do well? They’ll exploit it.
What play do they run out of this formation? Check.
What are their audible calls at the line? I hear that.
If WVU was an English muffin, then Marshall is the butter that knows where every single nook and cranny is located.
Take a step back and think about this now: it’s a setup so good your almost looking around for the cast from Ocean’s Eleven.
Doc Holiday coaches his first home game at Marshall against his alma mater. The Thundering Herd owns the best home field winning percentage of any Division I school in the country. The Herd has won 86 percent of its games at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. In case you’re wondering, Alabama is second on that list at 82 percent.
In case that weren’t enough, Marshall will unveil two new video boards, a new sound system, and ribbon video boards.
The Mountaineers will get the picture literally and figuratively when they step on the field.
Meanwhile, with a new staff at Marshall and just one game on tape against Ohio State, the philosophy of Marshall’s offensive and defensive schemes remain pretty much unknown.
So what are the Mountaineers to do? Do you call down to Huntington and tell them you have bus problems and won’t be able to make it? Do you actually play the game?
You play to win the game. Not to sound too much like Herm Edwards, but “You play to win the game.”
Football is the game perhaps more than any other in which execution outweighs strategy. Through the years, the great college football teams have been as predictable as a sunrise. Opposing teams knew what they were going to run, they just couldn’t stop it.
On Friday night in Huntington, Marshall’s football team will know more about WVU than they ever have before. The question will be whether they can stop it.
We’ll all find out together on Friday night.
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