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Marshall preparing for chop blocks from UTSA

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall's defense has to be prepared for anything and everything from Texas-San Antonio.

You name it: Two tight ends. Two backs - even two tailbacks. Four wide receivers. Speed option. Motion, motion, motion.

"I think the one impressive thing about their offense is they've kind of got a wishbone philosophy," Holliday said Tuesday.

Wishbone? That goofy 1970s offense with three backs? No, these Roadrunners throw for 290.4 yards per game.

Holliday continued his thought: "With how they run on the perimeter, that's how hard their kids play and block on the perimeter. And also, they're able to throw the football at the same time.

"So they do a good job with their perimeter runs; they do a great job distributing the ball."

So Marshall's linebackers had better be able to get to those sidelines, and the cornerbacks had better be able to come up in run support. And all of them had better get used to a certain blocking style.

"We got a lot of that motion stuff against Virginia Tech. They were also a team that moved people around quite a bit," Holliday said. "We didn't get the work against Tech, as far as the speed option, the speed sweeps and all the perimeter ...

"The one thing that they do is they chop - just like the wishbone teams I mentioned before - they're chopping everybody on the perimeter."

Ah, chopping. In more correct terminology, the cut block. In other words, blocking below the waist, right down to the shoetops.

Some coaches refuse to teach the cut block, and throwing one in practice can start a fight.

"They tried to take this out of the game a year ago, to be honest," Holliday said. "Now they've kind of put it back in there, to an extent, on the perimeter blocking. It hasn't changed within the [tackle] box, with the O-line and D-line."

The first part of the rules change deals with blocking inside the "tackle box," that area 7 yards to each side of the ball, 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage and behind the line to the offense's end line.

The second part deals with players not in the "tackle box" while the ball is in it, and all players once the ball leaves the "tackle box" - in other words, a UTSA perimeter situation.

Blockers may hit defenders below the waist as long as they do it from the front - defined as a clock-face region between "10 o'clock and 2 o'clock." Defenders may not be cut from the side or from behind, and blockers may not hit below the waist while aiming back toward the offense's end line.

If you're having trouble deciphering that, this is clearer: Holliday would prefer not to have to go against it.

"The good thing is, we've had two weeks to prepare," Holliday said. "We had a week where we could actually go out twice padded up; we only planned on going out once full pads, we went twice. We wanted to get live action as far as the chop blocks and all that stuff to go on the perimeter.

"We'll get another day of it [Tuesday], so our kids have had three full days of getting chopped on the perimeter and getting off chop blocks and that type of things.

"It's kind of a fine line there. You don't want to do that every day in practice because you'll lose kids. But you have to do it - it's like anything else, if you don't do it in practice, you can't expect to do it on game day."

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  • Speaking of cornerbacks, Darryl Roberts and Monterius Lovett have been named the defensive game captains. Center Chris Jasperse and running back Essray Taliaferro will represent the offense.

    This is the third time in a row Jasperse has been honored, while the others are serving for the second time this season.

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  • Holliday knows UTSA coach Larry Coker from a few West Virginia-Miami games, and from the recruiting trail. He admires the job he has done in building the Roadrunners' program, which is in just their fourth season.

    "I think he's done it the right way," Holliday said. "The schedule they took on the first couple of years wasn't the Arizonas and Oklahoma States and all those people. Those kids had a lot of success early. Just pull up the last two years and who they've played, and they're smart.

    "A lot of people who start new programs like that, they go off and they play the Alabamas because it's all about money. They destroy their kids' confidence. [Florida International] was a little bit like that early - they were playing Maryland and Alabama and Penn State and all those people. It was all about the money they could make, [but] in the long run they destroyed their kids' confidence.

    "This is a confident football team we've got coming in here Saturday, because they've won."

    Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, dougsmock@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.

     


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