The Hokies remember last year. The week after beating Ohio State in Columbus, Virginia Tech came home to an excited Lane Stadium to face East Carolina. It was to be a celebration of what happened the week before and what was to come for the remainder of 2014.
The Pirates didn’t see it that way. Shane Carden threw for 427 yards and three scores, with 224 of those yards going to Cam Worthy, and East Carolina knocked off Virginia Tech 28-21. The Hokies proceeded to lose five of the next eight and barely made a bowl game.
This year, Carden is gone from ECU. So is Worthy and his partner Justin Hardy. This is a different Pirate squad. But don’t tell that to Tech. They have revenge on their minds as they head down to Greenville, N.C.
Virginia Tech at East Carolina
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ABC/ESPN2
Spread: Virginia Tech -8
Three Things to Watch
1. Is Beamer Ball Back?
After a few seasons of middling special teams play, Beamer Ball returned in full force on Saturday at Purdue. Terrell Edmunds blocked a punt that Anthony Shegog returned for a touchdown and Der’Woun Green took the second half kickoff back 82 yards, setting up a Joey Slye field goal. Defensive scores were also a staple of Beamer Ball and Chuck Clark got one of those off a fumble recovery caused by Kendall Fuller’s hit on Purdue quarterback Austin Appleby. Is this a return to true Beamer Ball or just a blip on the radar?
2. ECU Against the Run
Brendan Motley has been inconsistent as the quarterback for Virginia Tech. As a result, offensive coordinator Scott Loeffler has relied heavily on the running game and the Hokies have rushed for 537 yards in their past two games. On the other side, the Pirates rank No. 122 in rushing defense, giving up 254 yards per game. Granted, allowing 415 yards rushing in a 45-21 loss to Navy is a big factor in that ranking. But ECU has to slow down the Tech backs to force Motley into passing situations because…
3. Motley Needs to Avoid Mistakes
The quarterback fumbled four times last Saturday though fortunately only one was lost. The junior provides an exciting element with his legs and can make plays outside the pocket. But he has to be more careful with the football. The Virginia Tech defense is very good and Motley does not want to put them in bad spots. It was only his second start and he is still learning. But with conference play around the corner, he must value the football.
Once Virginia Tech got rolling they were way too much for Purdue. Expect more of the same this week. East Carolina is not nearly as good as they were last year. They are No. 126 in rushing offense and struggle stopping the run. That’s a bad combination against Virginia Tech. If the Hokies know the Pirates can’t run the ball, that defense will come charging at the quarterback. The Hokies are also going to run the ball, some with the backs and some with Motley. They will also look for big plays to Isaiah Ford or Cam Phillips. Revenge will be sweet.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 31, East Carolina 13
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.