Herd’s Green readies for VT pressure
HUNTINGTON - As the redshirt freshman football season of Marshall University quarterback Isaiah Green winds down, the roller coaster ride for the young Thundering Herd signal-caller has had many ups and downs.
Early on, Green was successful, but followed it with a period of inconsistency when turnover issues crept into his play.
Then came an injury that challenged him both mentally and physically and he had to wait out the rehabilitation to earn his chance to take the field again.
Since earning the position back Green has excelled, leading the Herd to wins in three consecutive starts.
Green faces his biggest challenge when he leads Marshall (8-3) into Lane Stadium for a noon Saturday affair against Virginia Tech (5-6) in Blacksburg, Virginia.
When he watched film of the Virginia Tech defense this week, the Hokies’ pressure jumped out from the screen.
“That’s what stood out the most to me -- that front seven, they were pretty active in getting to the passer,” Green said.
Last week, FIU attempted to bring pressure early in the game and Green made the Panthers pay, connecting on five of his first six passes on the initial drive that culminated with a 16-yard touchdown toss to wide receiver Tyre Brady.
“Every week, he continues to grow,” Brady said. “Every single week, he continues to make better decisions and those small window throws. He’s just shown us how great of a player he’s going to be.”
That progression is sure to be put to the test this week as the Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster-led unit sends many different looks at Green, forcing him to make the correct decision quicker and, likely, in the face of a blitz.
Foster’s defense is something Marshall head coach Doc Holliday is familiar with after many past encounters through his time playing the Hokies at N.C. State and West Virginia.
“He’s going to stop the run and he’s going to force you to throw the ball and put those corners, at times, on islands, which he does,” Holliday said. “You have to be able to take what he gives you, alright, and you can’t put square pegs in round holes against that defense. We’ve got to be able to take what they give us and hopefully make some plays both running and throwing it, at times, when we have to.”
Marshall offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey spoke about the variation of looks Foster’s defense incorporates. Not only do Green and the Herd offense have to identify the look at the line of scrimmage, but they also have to execute.
“We have to do a great job of getting hats on hats and, it doesn’t always have to be max protected, but sometimes, you’ve got to max protect and sometimes, you have to get five receivers out,” Cramsey said. “When you play a guy like that, you’ve got to mess with him as much as he messes with you.”
Teams have tried to pressure Green and the redshirt freshman has taken advantage of the opportunities, putting the ball up for Brady and Obi Obialo to make the most of one-on-one chances.
Once again, those battles will be crucial in the Herd’s chances at victory.
If Marshall is able to win those battles early, it could force a change in the defense that opens up the rushing attack. If the Hokies neutralize the aerial attack in the beginning, it likely means a steady diet of pressure for Green.
“When they’ve been hurt, they’ve been hurt in the pass game and then the pass game has opened up the run game for later in the game,” Cramsey said. “For the most part, you protect and you win the one-on-one battles outside. When you put that many guys in the box and do all that different stuff, you’re going to put guys on islands. We’ve got to move our guys around and get them in situations where we can find them one-on-one in situations that we want.”
Holliday said he is excited for the matchup to see exactly where his team is and, more on an individual level, to see Green’s ability to handle a stout defense.
“It’ll be a great challenge for not only our offense, but a young quarterback going in there,” Holliday said. “He’s playing beyond his years right now. He’s starting to mature and I like what I see out of him. This will another growing experience. It will be a great experience for him.”