Virginia Tech looks to end recent woes vs. East Carolina
Virginia Tech’s most lopsided victory in several years might have given the Hokies a bit of a swagger heading into this week, but then came some cautionary words about their not-so-stellar recent past against East Carolina.
The Pirates (2-1) of the American Athletic Conference have won two straight against the Hokies, and six in a row against Atlantic Coast Conference competition. That’s more than enough to get the Hokies’ attention.
“We’re about to face a great team,” Hokies linebacker Tremaine Edmunds said. “I think it starts with us. We have to prepare this week, come out to practice each and every day, prepare like a team, prepare to go get a win.”
The Hokies beat Boston College 49-0 last week , and first-year Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said it’s not necessary to remind his players about the challenge the Pirates present because of the last two seasons. Ending the skid won’t be easy, even at home.
The Hokies have won just three of their last 10 home games against Power Five conference programs.
“This is a program with great tradition that has won a lot of games,” he said of the Pirates. “They have very good football players. When you watch them play, they’re athletic. Defensively they’re moving all over the place.”
East Carolina also has a first-year coach in Scottie Montgomery, but he spent the last three years as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Duke, and the Blue Devils won two of three against the Hokies.
He’ll arrive with limited history against Fuente, but plenty against defensive coordinator Bud Foster.
“There is no one, as a coordinator, who has challenged us as much as he has,” Montgomery said, adding that a veteran secondary seems to key this year’s team. “This is a football team that can cover your receivers.”
Some other things to look for when East Carolina visits Virginia Tech:
WHERE’S ZAY? ECU’s Zay Jones last week had 22 receptions for 190 yards against the Gamecocks. That left him one catch short of the FBS record for receptions in a game. He has 39 catches for 443 yards in three games, and just one touchdown this season, but has managed five touchdown receptions in each of his first three seasons and will present a challenge for the Hokies’ secondary.
EVANS’ PROGRESS: QB Jerod Evans fumbled three times and had a snap go over his head for another turnovers in the Hokies’ first two games, and threw his first interception last week on a ball that Isaiah Ford juggled into the arms of a defender. But Evans has also thrown for 10 touchdowns, with six different players on the receiving end.
RED ZONE: Both teams have had ball security issues in the red zone. The Hokies had three turnovers inside the opposing 10 yard-line in their first two games, and the Pirates had four inside the South Carolina 20 last week. Those plays can be deflating for the team preparing to score, but invigorating for the team that took it away.
IGNORING HISTORY: The Hokies have not been very good at home against top flight competition in recent seasons, losing nine of their last 12 against East Carolina and Power Five conference teams. A poor start can silence the crowd quickly, so they either need to start strong or play with resolve if the early going isn’t promising.
STAMINA IN THE SUN: Both coaches come into games hoping to run a fast-paced offense with a lot of plays. The Pirates had 91 snaps from scrimmage at South Carolina last week, and the Hokies had 77 against the Eagles.
Online: The AP’s college football page: http://collegefootball.ap.org
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