MORGANTOWN -- Alex Bazzie's lips pursed as he remembered four quarters of football he'd like to forget - West Virginia University slamming the door on the Friends of Coal Bowl series with its 69-34 win.
The Marshall defensive end knew his unit had to prepare for one part of WVU's offensive onslaught. After all, when quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey are lining up across from you, ignoring the pass is fatal.
But the other part? The running back duo of Shawne Alston and Andrew Buie? That knocked him for a bit of a loop.
"It was a surprise," he said. "We weren't quite sure they were going to have the running game going. We thought it was going to be more of a passing game, but it turned out to be a running situation."
It turned out to be a situation of both.
The Mountaineers gashed Marshall for 331 yards rushing and 324 yards passing and left the Thundering Herd lamenting a pile of missed tackles and big plays allowed.
The missed tackles grated on Marshall Coach Doc Holliday. They turned small gains into big gains and big gains into touchdowns. As an indication of WVU's ability to break Marshall tackles, three of the Herd's five leading tacklers were defensive backs - safety Dominick LeGrande, safety Okechukwu Okoroha and corner Derrick Thomas. When Marshall defenders finally did bring WVU ball-carriers down, they'd already made it deep into the defense.
"Our goal is to have single-digit missed tackles," Holliday said. "We probably didn't have that in the first quarter."
Outside of backup quarterback Paul Millard, thrown into the game in the fourth quarter with the Mountaineers up by six touchdowns, no WVU runner averaged fewer than 7.7 yards a carry. Alston averaged 7.7 in pounding out 123 yards. Buie darted for 80 yards and 13.3 per carry. Austin averaged 22 yards a carry, gaining 66 overall. Even Smith rushed for 65 yards, averaging 8.1 a carry.