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September 17, 2013

Beamer, VT Facing Another Big Offense

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It's hard for Virginia Tech's defense to be playing much more lights out than it is. The Hokies rank second in the country in total defense, allowing just 190.7 per game through three games.

Now, the focus is on the offense. And for coach Frank Beamer, the progress is there. Two weeks after passing for just 59 yards in a season-opening loss to Alabama, Virginia Tech had 258 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Of course, the rushing game took a hit, with just 53 yards on 34 carries.

And against another high-powered, lightning fast offense in Marshall, the Hokies offense will have to pitch in. Their defense will certainly get another test in defending that speed, albeit this week will be without one player who had recently returned.

"We got Charley Meyer back this week and that's another good, dependable receiver," Beamer said. "He hasn't been in there and played much yet, but from spring practice and fall, I really feel like he's solid. To me, I think we did (take a step forward) and we're gonna have to do that. When people crowd you like East Carolina did, you've just gotta be able to throw the ball, beat people one on one. I think we've got some guys that can do that. We've gotta keep developing that."

Marshall averaged an astounding 90.6 plays per game last season in leading the country. They're at the nearly same pace this season, with 82.3 plays per game, third in the country.

"Watching video, you don't know sometimes how fast things are going," Beamer said. "You see one play, then you see another play. If they led the nation in total plays, they probably led the nation in speed.

"They've got the quarterback, the quarterback played against us a couple of years ago, but now you see experience and you see his leadership and he's good, he's efficient. I think their running game, they do a good job with that. Their defense is improved from last year, they're better."

In defending the Thundering Herd, Virginia Tech will be without junior defensive lineman Corey Marshall, who returned to the team last week after missing nearly three weeks while on an undisclosed leave of absence from the team. Beamer confirmed he'll be redshirted the rest of this season.

"For Corey, I think it's a good plan for him and where we are right now," Beamer said. "We feel good about Baron and Nigel Williams. You never know about injuries, but I think with Marshall getting back out to defensive end, that's a position he likes to play. He's got a lot of talent. I think he's got a future after Virginia Tech, myself. So get him two years there with playing the defensive end position. We lose a couple of pretty good guys there this year at that defensive end. I think overall, where we are in the season, where our football team is, where he is, I think that's the best plan for him and us."

The burden defensively on the line is made easier with their play the last three games. Senior defensive linemen James Gayle and J.R. Collins each had two of the Hokies' seven sacks on Saturday, leading the way on the line.

"You've got a guy there like J.R. Collins, he's playing lights out, just great effort," Beamer said. "James Gayle's got real ability. A guy like Dadi Nicolas, he's really something out there. He's long and he's got speed off that edge. You look up the middle and Derrick Hopkins and Luther in there and Nigel Williams and Baron. We've got some kids there that are athletic and I think experience is another wonderful thing there."

The defense nearly aced its first high-octane offense test, against East Carolina. But Virginia Tech's offense, though nit high-powered, will have to step up as well.

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