All The Right Moves

Doc Holliday utilized a lesson from the Don Nehlen book of media relations: Set-up the opponent with coachspeak, but have them right in the crosshairs.

Such was the case Monday when the former WVU assistant and current Marshall head coach gave some thoughts and insights into the final scheduled meeting of the two programs Saturday at noon.

"They are on of the top 10 teams in America," Holliday said of West Virginia. "They have Geno Smith at quarterback, who should win the Heisman. He was the preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, and if it wasn't him, Tavon Austin probably would have been. Then they have Stedman Bailey. They have a talented group of individuals and we will have to play well."

Even the most optomistic of Mountaineer fans would argue that "shouldn't" isn't exactly the most accurate marker for Smith's Heisman chances. Even probable is arguably an overstatement. And, so far, WVU isn't rated in the top 10. But it was a butter-up job, no doubt, and likely one designed to avoid any extra motivation for Mountaineer players and invite a lulling sense of the talent imbalance in the opener.

"We have a great respect for West Virginia," Holliday added. "They are probably the most talented offensive team in their league. Stedman, Tavon, Geno and they have their line back. They are going to be a handful, we know that. They are going to get their yards and catches. You have to do a great job of minimizing big plays, and when they catch it get them on the ground. That's easier said than done. But we have great kids, too, and I like our team."

Austin essentially sealed last season's 34-13 win with a 100-yard kickoff return after Marshall had paulled within two scores in a six-hour, 54-minute game marred by multiple weather delays. Smith threw for 249 yards on 26 of 35 passing and Bailey led all receivers with five catches for 76 yards and a score. The Herd, however, was ahead 7-3 after the first quarter and trailed just 20-10 at the break in staying closer than expected for a second consecutive series game.

"Our kids are excited to play," Holliday said. "I think we had a great camp. We have to make sure we eliminate distractions this week. We have a great opponent in West Virginia. ... It's a big game because it's our next game. It's our first, and our kids have worked hard since January and it's important we go play well."

Holliday noted that he knew much of what to expect, at least as much as any other game, from WVU's Air Raid offense. But its new-look 3-4 defense would pose more initial chess match positioning through the first few quarters.

"I think, right now, there is a lot of unknowns with that defense," Holliday said. "They have two new coodinators. They have a lot of good players on defense, too. There are a lot of unknowns. I am sure there will need to be some adjustments made early, because with two new coordinators you dont know what you're going to get. We just want to play extremely well. I hope we are up for every game we play. I thought last year we embraced and played hard every game. This just happens to be the first. They are a heck of a football team, but I think we are pretty good, too, so we'll go see what happens.

"I mean, they put up 70 against an ACC champ in Clemson. The thing I learned from my time there is that they have really good players and they are well-coached."

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