Jason Stamm, publisher for The VT Zone, spoke with Inside ECU Sports about today's matchup between the East Carolina and Virginia Tech.
- VT Keys to Success
Basically, Virginia Tech's success has hinged on holding on to the football and penalties. In the first two games, the Hokies had 10 fumbles and lost nine of them, the most in the country through those first two games. Last week against Boston College, they had just one turnover, an interception off a tipped pass that didn't lead to any points. The offense has been humming, with Jérod Evans at quarterback. Coach Justin Fuente kept building up the competition at quarterback throughout fall camp, but I'm not sure how much of a competition it really was. Evans is a guy who is smart with the football, as far as knowing when to take off and when to throw it. There's been some uncertainty at center and left guard, but past that, the starters on offense have been impressive...when they can hold on to the football.
- Offensive Standouts
Aside from Evans, the guy that really stands out is Isaiah Ford.He has the potential to be a first-round draft pick this spring. The Hokies are also figuring out more of what to do with Bucky Hodges. He was a quarterback out of high school, moved to tight end at the end of his true freshman season at Virginia Tech, then, because coach Justin Fuente doesn't use a tight end, was supposed to play more of an H-back role, but honestly, he's been mostly a receiver this fall. At 6'7" he's a mismatch for just about any defender he goes against. Hodges has great hands, good speed, and good strength. But it's been hit and miss the past few seasons how he's used. Another likely draft pick in the spring.
- Defensive Gameplan
The biggest takeaway is that defensive coordinator Bud Foster has adjusted his scheme a bit, but that it's very similar to what he's always done. He's not using the bear package as much, instead using a lot more nickel, against passing offenses. Surprisingly, though, as much as Virginia Tech dominated last week, it didn't have one sack. There were quarterback hurries and knockdowns, but no sacks. The secondary has played very well through three games, but the Hokies need more pressure from up front. They've caused plenty of disruption, but they need to get a few sacks to really shut down opposing offenses.
The biggest adjustment has been holding on to the football. The game when Tennesse faced The Hokies, the score really wasn't indicative of the game. The Hokies outgained Tennessee 400-330. But the difference was five fumbles, two of which were inside Virginia Tech's own five yard-line. Hard to beat anyone when you do that. And penalties have gotten better. The first two games especially had a lot of unnecessary penalties and mental mistakes that could have been avoided. Those were noticeably cleaned up against Boston College.
- ECU against VT
I don't think it's really a big deal at all, as far as the series goes. East Carolina has had Virginia Tech's number the last two seasons, but the reason the Hokies need to win this game is because it's their last game before a long ACC stretch. And with that, after this weekend, Virginia Tech plays four of its next five games on the road. It's a tough stretch, so it will make it even tougher if the Hokies are 2-2 going into it. They need to keep the momentum going they established against Boston College, if they want to have a chance in the ACC championship hunt.