The last time Virginia Tech piled up more than 550 yards of offense in a game, Hokies offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring was a broken man — tears streaming down his face, crouching in a corner outside the visitors' locker room of the Carrier Dome after a loss.
After No. 14 Tech's 52-10 win against Marshall on Saturday, Stinespring's emotions were a lot different. He sat quietly in the corner of the postgame interview room with two of his children, answering questions with a satisfied look befitting a man whose offense had just run up 605 yards one week after managing just 155 yards against Alabama.
Saturday's effort was the top yardage day in Stinespring's eight seasons as Tech's coordinator, topping Tech's 559 yards accumulated in 2002 in a 50-42 triple- overtime loss at Syracuse. The 605 yards was the sixth-highest output in Tech history. It included 444 rushing yards, third-most under Tech coach Frank Beamer.
"I think it's extremely significant that they were able to go out and do this," Stinespring said. "I think it's a great boost for them. They're not oblivious that there's some questions, reservations and (they're aware of) the questions they have to answer. … I think it's important to go out and finish drives and to have big plays. It's a commodity within a game you've got to have. It's just part of it."
Running back David Wilson carried the ball 12 times for 165 yards and a touchdown against Marshall, while starter Ryan Williams had 16 carries for 164 yards and three touchdowns. It was the first time Tech had two 100-yard-plus backs in a game since Nov. 26, 2005, against North Carolina, when Cedric Humes had 134 yards and Branden Ore had 104 yards in a 30-3 win.
"We just needed to prove it to ourselves that we could do it," Williams said.
"We really don't care what anybody has to say about us, or what critics have to say, but we had to prove it to ourselves that we can move the ball, we can run the ball, we can pass, we can block, we can pick up blitzes. All those things offensively — we had to prove it to ourselves first."
Of course, it's safe to say Marshall (1-1) doesn't possess a defense that will make football observers forget about the Steel Curtain any time soon. Coming in to the game, Marshall had given up an average of 420 yards per game in the last three seasons. Last season, the Thundering Herd finished 102 in the nation in total defense, surrendering an average of 418 yards per game.
Still, after the offense fell on its face against the Crimson Tide, the Hokies (1-1) needed a game that bordered on absurd. They got it. Tech had 10 plays of 20 yards or more against Marshall, and another nine plays that went for 10 to 18 yards.
"Coming off of last week, and people asking could we get back up, how much is (the Alabama loss) going to hurt us, mentally what did it do to us," Beamer said. "I thought our kids and coaches went out there and gave a great response today."
Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor, a Hampton High graduate, bounced back from a 1-for-6 passing start to the game to finish 9-of-16 for 161 yards, two touchdowns and an interception through 21/2 quarters before taking the rest of the game off. His afternoon included touchdown passes of 21 yards to Smithfield High graduate Dyrell Roberts, his first career touchdown reception, and eight yards to receiver Xavier Boyce.
"I just kept playing the game," Taylor said. "You never try to rush anything. You've just got to stay poised in the pocket and let the game come to you. That's how I start off sometimes, but hopefully, every game doesn't go like that and I can start off on fire."
Even with all the gaudy offensive numbers, the most electrifying play of the day may have come from freshman Jayron Hosley.
After kicking away from Hosley on three of his first four punts, Kase Whitehead angled his fifth punt at Hosley, who got two big blocks and returned it 64 yards for the first touchdown of his career to put Tech ahead 21-0 with 12:10 left in the second quarter.
Tech's defense also showed marked improvement from its outing against Alabama, which posted 498 yards. Tech, which was led by seven tackles from freshman linebacker Jake Johnson, gave up 109 rushing yards on 17 carries by Marshall's Darius Marshall, but the Thundering Herd managed to get just 110 of its 252 yards in the second half.
"I said from the beginning getting 155 yards wasn't good enough, so we needed to be more consistent offensively," Beamer said. "Giving up (498) wasn't good enough. We needed to be better defensively, and having two turnovers inside the 20 and kicking to get us field position, that's not good enough. I feel like our whole football team needed to improve, and I thought we did."
No. 14 VIRGINIA TECH 52, MARSHALL 10
First Quarter VT—R.Williams 57 run (Waldron kick), 4:18.
Second Quarter VT—R.Williams 4 run (Waldron kick), 14:06. VT—Hosley 64 punt return (Waldron kick), 12:10. Mar—Marshall 61 run (Ratanamorn kick), 10:32. VT—R.Williams 28 run (Waldron kick), 5:21. VT—Roberts 21 pass from T.Taylor (Waldron kick), 1:36.
Third Quarter VT—Boyce 8 pass from T.Taylor (Waldron kick), 10:49. VT—FG Waldron 28, 2:43.
Fourth Quarter Mar—FG Ratanamorn 29, 14:05. VT—D.Wilson 36 run (Waldron kick), 9:47. A—66,233.
MarVTFirst downs1026Rushes-yards28-12653-444Passing126161Comp-Att-Int16-33-09-19-1Return Yards1488Punts-Avg.10-42.03-46.3Fumbles-Lost2-10-0Penalties-Yards8-547-55Time of Possession28:3231:28INDIVIDUAL STATISTICSRUSHING—Marshall, Marshall 17-109, Anderson 6-17, Ward 4-7, And.Booker 1-(minus 7). Virginia Tech, D.Wilson 12-165, R.Williams 16-164, Oglesby 12-60, T.Taylor 7-58, Z.Evans 1-6, Clayton 1-(minus 1), Team 4-(minus 8).
PASSING—Marshall, Anderson 15-31-0-116, P.Taylor 1-2-0-10. Virginia Tech, T.Taylor 9-16-1-161, Clayton 0-3-0-0.
RECEIVING—Marshall, Slate 3-18, T.Evans 3-5, Marshall 3-3, J.Wilson 2-9, C.Walker 2-5, A.Wilson 1-60, Bonner 1-17, Smith 1-9. Virginia Tech, Boykin 2-32, Roberts 2-31, Boyce 2-13, Coale 1-43, R.Williams 1-36, Oglesby 1-6.
Next gameNext game WHO: No. 22 Nebraska (2-0) at No. 14 Virginia Tech (1-1).
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
TV: ABC 8 13.