Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

October 2, 2013

Herd looks to avoid getting chopped

BECKLEY — Eight receivers have caught at least nine passes for UTSA this season. Marshall coach Doc Holliday believes he knows why.

The Roadrunners do a lot of outside blocking to spring ball carriers free, be it running backs or wide receivers. Much of that is chop blocking on the perimeter, which would obviously require receivers without the ball to get involved.

“That’s probably why they play so many wide receivers, because if they don’t block they don’t play,” Holliday said.

That tactic is something the Thundering Herd will have to be ready for when it hosts UTSA at 2 p.m. Saturday in its first Conference USA game of the season.

Marshall (2-2, 0-0 C-USA) is coming off a bye week, so it had extra time to get ready for the challenges presented by the Roadrunners (2-3, 1-0), who are in their first year as C-USA members and just third overall as a football program.

“The good thing is that we’ve had two weeks to prepare,” Holliday said. “We went full pads twice because we wanted to get live actions, as far as the chop blocks on the perimeter.

“We got two days of that last week. We’ll get another day of it today. So our kids have had three full days of getting chopped on the perimeter and getting off chop blocks.

“I haven’t seen a team throw the ball as well as they do and also get blocks on the perimeter like they do.”

That, Holliday says, is what makes the Roadrunners different from any of the first four teams Marshall faced.

“We haven’t played a team like this so far; a team that does what they do on the perimeter,” Holliday said.

“The officials were trying to take (chop blocks) out of the game a year ago, to be honest. They’ve now put it back in there to an extent on the perimeter blocking. It hasn’t changed with the box and the offensive line or defensive line. Unfortunately, if people are going to do it then we have to be prepared for it and we will be.”

Preparing for a heavy dose of chop blocking is a Catch-22, Holliday said.

“It’s a fine line because you don’t want to work too much in practice on defending the chop block because you lose kids that way,” he said.

“But you have to do it. If you don’t do it in practice then you can’t expect it to be done on game day. We’ve had to go out and execute that in practice and we’ll do it again today.”

— E-mail: gfauber@register-herald.com

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