Chuck Landon: Foggy mountain breakdown for Herd
BLACKSBURG, Va. - Marshall University played as though it was in a fog.
Maybe because the Thundering Herd was.
The visibility at Saturday’s kickoff was only 0.9 miles because of fog.
Was that why Marshall got embarrassed 41-20 before a crowd of 31,336 that was Virginia Tech’s smallest crowd since drawing only 27,342 for a game against Southern Miss in 1992?
It’s because even when the dense fog lifted in the second quarter, the Herd continued to play like it was in a fog.
A mental fog. An emotional fog. An intensity fog.
After redshirt freshman quarterback Isaiah Green committed turnovers on Marshall’s first two possessions, Thundering Herd players acted as though they didn’t have the foggiest idea what they were doing here.
And it showed.
Did it ever.
Marshall’s pass defense was downright embarrassing. Virginia Tech quarterback Ryan Willis looked more like N.C. State star quarterback Ryan Finley, as the unheralded Hokie carved up the Herd’s secondary.
In the first half alone, Finley er, I mean Willis threw touchdown strikes of 46 yards, 45 yards, seven yards and 32 yards to four different receivers. Willis threw only four incomplete passes in the first half, completing 12 of 16 throws for 254 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
The only thing that was as embarrassing as Marshall’s porous pass defense was the Herd offense’s impotent passing game.
Of course, it didn’t exactly get off to a good start. On the first play of the game, Green was sacked and fumbled leading to a Virginia Tech field goal.
Then, on Marshall’s second possession, Green forced a throw into double-coverage in the end zone on a pass intended for wide receiver Obi Obialo. The only problem is Green led Virginia Tech cornerback Bryce Watts perfectly and he easily intercepted the pass.
Why, even when Marshall scored in the first half, thanks to running back Brenden Knox’s 67-yard run which led to his 2-yard touchdown run, MU placekicker Justin Rohrwasser missed the extra point kick.
The second half?
It was rather meaningless.
Marshall did score 14 points in the fourth quarter, but it was way too little, way too late. The bottom line is Marshall got hammered by a team that came into the game with a 5-6 record.
That just didn’t feel good.
That’s a lose-lose situation.
And head coach Doc Holliday wasn’t the least bit happy about it.
“We moved up and down the field,” he said, “and put the ball in the score zone and didn’t stick it in the end zone like we should. (Brenden) Knox ran for over 200 yards and we moved the ball up and down the field, but we just didn’t score enough points.
“Give Virginia Tech credit. They played well and we made too many mistakes. We got ourselves into too big a hole in the first half to get back in it. At the end of the day, we got beat and it’s unfortunate.”
It’s never good to end the regular season with a loss.
Somebody cue Earl Scruggs.
This was indeed a “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.”
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.