The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

October 23, 2013

MTSU offensive line a challenge for Herd defense

MU to face MTSU at 7:30 p.m. Thursday on Fox Sports 1

BECKLEY — Marshall’s defense has improved dramatically over last year, leading Conference USA in scoring defense (18.3 points per game) and total defense (301.5 yards allowed per game).

But coach Doc Holliday says the Thundering Herd will face a tough challenge when it visits Middle Tennessee at 7:30 p.m. Thursday on Fox Sports 1. In particular, Holliday says left guard Josh Walker and left tackle Darius Johnson “are going to play in the NFL one day.”

Walker is a 6-foot-5, 323-pound redshirt junior who has made 28 starts in his career. Johnson (6-3, 293) is a redshirt sophomore who has started all 19 games since he began his career last season.

“To be honest, the left side of their offensive line will be the best offensive line we’ve played against,” Holliday said. “(Walker and Johnson) are excellent. I’m not saying that because we are playing them; just go watch them on film. They are extremely good and extremely physical.

“I think the guys they’ve plugged in at right guard, right tackle and center have played well, but that left side of their line has played a lot of football. They’re really good players. That will be a challenge for our guys, but our defensive line has to play well, because it starts up front physically and they will have to be physical to be able to play with these guys.”

Holliday knows there is always the possibility of Walker and Johnson moving over, but that hasn’t happened yet.

“Well, they’ve had the opportunity to do that the last three games, and they didn’t do it,” he said. “It’s not like that center and right guard are playing for the first time. They played the last three games. I think it’s the third game in a row that the freshman right guard, Daniel Stephens, will start. He’s gotten his feet wet and done some really good things.

“I don’t see them changing now at this point. That left side will be a challenge for us and they play extremely well.”


It’s been a frustrating season for Marshall running back Kevin Grooms.

Last season’s C-USA Freshman of the Year has been slowed by an ankle injury that has limited him to four games, none of them starts. He has 46 carries for 175 yards and two touchdowns.

He scored his second TD in the Herd’s 24-23 win over Florida Atlantic Oct. 12. Holliday hopes that will springboard Grooms back into action.

“It’s been difficult for all of us mentally, because he is a good player and he is very explosive,” Holliday said. “You want to see him back to where he was. I’m seeing more of that. I saw a little bit of it at FAU and he has had a week and a half since then. He’s going to be a whole lot healthier going into Thursday night than what he has been. I’m anxious to go watch him play because when he is healthy he is an outstanding player. I think it’s harder for a skill guy to come back quick from those types of injuries.”

Holliday talked about defensive tackle Brandon Sparrow, who also has missed two games with the same injury that has plagued Grooms, but has been able to be more productive because of his position.

“He’s gone in there and just played, but it’s different with a defensive lineman than it is with a skill player,” Holliday said. “It is magnified when you are a tailback, wideout or skill guy who has to make all these cuts and moves. Grooms is a lot closer now than what he was and that is good for us.”


Marshall will see a familiar face on the opposing sideline in MTSU offensive line coach Geep Wade. He held the same position last season in Huntington.

— E-mail:

Text Only
College Sports
  • Mountaineers beat Buckeyes 4-1 in lefty Vance’s first career start

    In his first career start for the WVU baseball team, sophomore left-hander Ross Vance struck out 14 en route to a 4-1 victory over Ohio State on Tuesday evening at Hawley Field.

    April 15, 2014

  • Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage last Saturday.

    April 15, 2014

  • Wesleyan edges CU twice in softball

    The Concord University softball narrowly dropped a pair of games to No. 17 West Virginia Wesleyan, 2-1 and 4-3, Sunday afternoon at Culpepper Field.

    April 14, 2014

  • Concord baseball shuts out Cardinals

    The Concord University baseball team posted two shutout victories on Sunday, extending its winning streak to seven games by beating conference foe Wheeling Jesuit.

    April 14, 2014

  • dana Much still to be answered this fall

    In Saturday’s paper, I compiled a list of five things to watch at West Virginia University’s annual Gold-Blue Spring Game. Now, after watching the football scrimmage that concluded this year’s spring drills and taking some time to process what I saw, it’s time to go back and revisit those five points and how they turned out on Saturday.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • D’Antoni speculation now seems to have legs

    Kareem Canty got what he wanted, and Marshall fans should find out this week if they will get what they want.

    April 13, 2014

  • millard Specials teams shine at Gold-Blue Game

    The scoreboard said the Gold (offense) beat the Blue (defense) 37-27 in Saturday’s Gold-Blue Spring Game at Milan Puskar Stadium using a modified scoring system that rewarded the defense for stops and turnovers and the offense for scores.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • syvertson ‘Huey the Punter’ makes transition to LB

    The first reaction of the 10,000 fans in attendance at Milan Puskar Stadium for Saturday’s Gold-Blue Spring Game when No. 42 shot through the offensive line and put junior college transfer quarterback Skyler Howard on the ground in the second half was to ooh and aah.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • crutchfield Crutchfield again named Furfari Award winner

    Already the winningest men’s basketball coach in college history in terms of percentage — yes, better than guys like John Wooden, Adolph Rupp and Roy Williams — West Liberty’s Jim Crutchfield is heading into some lofty territory within the confines of his home state.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Five things to watch at WVU spring game

    Spring practice will come to an end for West Virginia University this afternoon when the Mountaineer football team hosts the annual Gold-Blue Spring Game at 1 p.m. at Milan Puskar Stadium.

    April 11, 2014