It's not often you get both a reality check and a win. Virginia Tech received both in its 17-10 win at East Carolina Saturday. The Pirates played ready, poised football from the beginning of the game and the Hokies definitely did not. In the past, this was the kind of game Tech would find a way to lose. Instead, Tech did what it needed to do to move to 2-0 for the first time since 2006.
The mistakes came early and often for the Hokies. They committed 12 penalties for 92 yards, including six in the game's first four drives. They committed two turnovers: One an interception in the end zone and the second a fumble one play after forcing their lone turnover of the game. They missed a field goal. They also somehow managed more yards per run play than per pass play and still won on the road.
Any notion that Logan Thomas is the second-coming of Cam Newton can end now. Thomas was 8-for-20 through the air and while he was the victim of a few drops, he was quite inaccurate throughout the game. His receivers dropped balls in this game, but so did ECU's secondary.
The offensive line did him no favors as ECU was able to get pressure on Thomas, even when it only rushed three. They were also inconsistent at opening holes for the Virginia Tech running backs, though they were very good at the end of each half.
David Wilson and Josh Oglesby were both able to grind out yards and wear down the ECU defense, resulting in a fourth-quarter scoring drive that saw Tech go 89 yards in 13 plays and 6:42. ECU did a very good job on defense in this game, especially up front, but the Hokies were finally able to get a solid push against its front seven in the game's last quarter.
What Thomas lacked through the air he made up for on the ground. This is a different kind of running quarterback than the Hokies are used to seeing and Thomas was able to maintain drives by putting his head down and getting past the first-down marker. His running ability will be big for the Hokies this year.
The Hokie defense was amazing, holding ECU's Air Raid offense to 10 points. A lot of people questioned Tech's ability to get pressure on Dominique Davis in a quick-strike offense, but the defensive line was able to do just that. They got to Davis early and often and were the difference in the game.
When the defensive line wasn't able to get around ECU's OL, the secondary had good enough coverage to force Davis to hold the ball long enough for the defense to get to him. Jayron Hosley, Kyle Fuller and Cris Hill were all really good in coverage today.
What we learned today is that the defense is improved, but the Hokies have a long way to go to be a legitimate Top 10 team. The offensive line is inconsistent, Thomas isn't very accurate and the special teams have really struggled so far. Tech is a very good team, but its poise and offensive execution leaves a lot to be desired. In the next two weeks we'll find out if it's just a mental thing on the road or if this team's issues are more serious than indicated by Saturday's performance.