"There are components of the spread; there's a couple of other things they do."
Carroll McCray was hired late in the coaching-change cycle, Jan. 28. He succeeded Ron Dickerson Jr., who resigned abruptly on Jan. 18.
McCray played on the offensive line for G-W in the early 1980s, helping the Bulldogs to a 7-3 mark in 1982. His first coaching job came at Appalachian State under Sparky Woods, which brought him to old Fairfield Stadium a few times when the Mountaineers played Marshall.
He followed Woods to South Carolina, then tutored the O-line at Samford from 1994-2000. He worked under Jackie Sherrill at Mississippi State for two seasons before getting his first head coaching job, a four-year stint at Austin Peay. He brought the Governors from non-scholarship status back to the Ohio Valley Conference.
He spent 2007-10 at Furman before taking the head coaching job in 2011 at North Greenville (he came a year after Marshall transfer Willy Korn, if you're wondering). He then went to Mercer, helping Bobby Lamb begin an FCS non-scholarship program.
His team has experience on the FBS stage, playing at Pittsburgh last year (55-10 loss) and at Ohio (30-3) and Wake Forest (48-5) in 2011. He knows he'll be playing before more than the 4,133 last weekend in Boiling Springs, N.C.
"Each Division I team proves to be different, usually in the fan base," McCray said. "We certainly expect a hostile environment out of the Marshall fans. I know they really love their football up there, I know they come to watch their team regardless of who Marshall is playing.
"One the video, it looked like it was a very large crowd last week, and they look like they're very excited about their team. So it's going to be a challenge of our surroundings.
And it will be a challenge on the field. McCray is an old offensive lineman and offensive coach, so guess where his eyes go first when turning on the video?
"They've got big ol' huge offensive linemen," he said. "And defensively, the thing that stands out at me is it's a team built on speed. They're long and they're lean and when you get a hat on them, they don't stay on their blocks very long."
A final word on McCray: He is an ordained Baptist minister, though he did not mention asking for divine intervention on Saturday.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.