Containing VT's Suggs is Goal #1 of Herd Defense

The battle in Blacksburg will not be an easy one, as Marshall goes up against a Virginia Tech team that has opened the season with two wins, including an impressive 26-8 victory over the reigning Southeastern Conference Champion LSU Tigers. The Hokies feature what many consider the premier running attack in the nation, led by senior Lee Suggs and sophomore Kevin Jones.

The two, who are dubbed The Untouchables,' enter the game averaging 150 yards a contest and are relied heavily upon to carry the brunt of the offensive load for Virginia Tech.

Stopping the rushing attack of the Hokies won't be easy for the Herd, but according to senior defensive end Orlando Washington, the Marshall defense is on a mission.

Last season the Herd experienced negative press because of their inability to stop the run, but in the season opening win against Appalachian State they made a statement by holding the Mountaineers to 76 yards on the ground.

"Everyone wanted to know what the defense was going to be like this year," Washington said. "I think the first game we kind of showed some of those doubters.

"But we are still going to have some of those doubters for the Virginia Tech game and they are going to want to see what we can do against them." Appalachian State tried to run right at the Herd, but Marshall proved to be too strong up front. Virginia Tech will try the same scheme against the Herd by using the combination of Suggs and Jones behind their offensive line that averages 312 pounds across.

Suggs, who sat out last season after tearing his ACL, is the all-time leader at Tech in career rushing touchdowns with 34. The 2000 All-American is back from his knee injury and has racked up 178 yards and three touchdowns so far this season.

His backup Jones was the Big East Rookie of the Year last season and a second-team Freshman All-American. He ran for 957 yards and five touchdowns a year ago and so far this season has gained 101 yards and scored twice.

The quarterback position for the Hokies seems to be sketchy as senior Grant Noel has started both games, but backup Bryan Randall has received the majority of the playing time. Noel, who tore his ACL during spring practice, has completed four of 10 passes this season for 42 yards and one touchdown. Randall is 11-of-17 for 113 yards and one touchdown pass.

When Randall is in the game, Tech likes to run play action to utilize his athletic ability. Noel is not as athletic as Randall, but is a better passing quarterback. In the style of offense Tech has been using this season, Randall has been more effective as he is another potential weapon for the running game.

The receivers for the Hokies are athletic, but so far this season they have not been used a great deal. In the game against LSU, only 14 passes were attempted.

Starters Ernest Wilford and Shawn Witten have both caught only two passes apiece this season for 26 and 19 yards respectively. Wilford, a 6-foot-4 junior, pulled in eight passes for 100 yards last season, while Witten had 16 grabs for 161 yards.

The Hokies will substitute many receivers in throughout the course of the game as nine different receivers have registered a catch this season.

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