HUNTINGTON, W.Va - The Marshall University defense has a tall - and heavy - task before it when it faces Virginia Tech and Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas on Saturday.
Thomas, a fifth-year senior and one of the leading passers in Virginia Tech history, rumbles into Saturday's noon matchup at Lane Stadium (ESPNU) standing 6-foot-6 and 254 pounds. To compare, those are similar dimensions to 6-5, 258-pound defensive tackle James Rouse.
And just because Thomas is bigger than your average signal-caller, that doesn't mean he can't use his feet. Thomas led Virginia Tech last season with 524 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns. Marshall's defenders understand that arm tackles will be useless against Thomas this Saturday.
Jermaine Holmes remembers the first time he faced Thomas, in 2011 when Thomas was a redshirt sophomore and Holmes was a freshman.
"I saw him and you don't usually see a quarterback that big," he said. "That's a big boy. We just need to fully wrap our arms around him and bring him down, but he's really strong, too. We just really need to gang tackle and keep him inside."
Thomas hasn't been a prolific passer so far this year, completing just 47 percent of his passes for 517 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. Yet he had his best game last week against East Carolina, completing 25 of 43 throws for 258 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Marshall Coach Doc Holliday figures he'll see Thomas' arm and legs put to good use Saturday.
"He looks like a big tight end out there, but he can run," he said. "They say he's 6-foot-6, but he looks bigger than that when he gets out on the field with the uniform on. He's impressive and he makes all the throws."
THE SAYING around Marshall's football team is, when your number is called, you must step up and produce. Defensive lineman Jarquez Samuel embodied that last week.
After Brandon Sparrow sprained his ankle against Gardner-Webb, Samuel, a 6-4, 276-pound redshirt sophomore moved into the starting lineup and responded with a team high nine tackles, assisting on a tackle for loss, from the nose tackle position.
Samuel said he had a lot of help to prepare for his first start.