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Friday, September 10, 2010
Coal Bowl all ash for WVU so far

By Brian Bennett

One of my reservations about West Virginia this year was the offensive line. Yes, the Mountaineers returned four starters, but I didn't think it was a very impressive group last year.

Against Marshall, the line is playing like anything but a veteran group. The Thundering Herd defense is getting all kinds of penetration, hurrying and hitting quarterback Geno Smith and putting up a surprising 14-3 halftime lead in Huntington.

West Virginia has 57 rushing yards on 19 carries, and that includes a 23-yard run by Ryan Clarke late in the half. The Mountaineers have also given away 40 yards in penalties, compared to four for Marshall.

The offensive line isn't the only one to blame; there have been defensive breakdowns as well. Marshall's Martin Ward ripped off a 55-yard run on the first drive, leading to a touchdown pass on a botched coverage. And after the West Virginia offense got stuffed on a fourth-and-1 inside the Marshall 10, Brian Anderson found Aaron Dobson for a 96-yard touchdown strike.

Credit Doc Holliday for going big on that play. Anderson faked a handoff in his own end zone and found Dobson alone in coverage against cornerback Keith Tandy, who had no chance.

Right now, Marshall is more physical and more aggressive. And if the West Virginia offensive front doesn't start blocking better, the Thundering Herd might just grab their first-ever victory in this in-state series. I don't need to tell you how devastating that would be for the Mountaineers.