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2010 Virginia Tech Football: What to Watch vs. East Carolina

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The Team

  • Last week I said I was watching to see if the team came out flat or motivated. Well, they certainly came out flat. Now I'm watching to see if they're embarrassed and angry at their own performance last week or if they've quit. I really hope it's not the latter.
  • Again, like last week, I'm interested to see what personnel we'll see against East Carolina. Will there be any substitutions on the offensive line or in the linebacker corps? Will we finally see left tackle Nick Becton or whip linebacker Alonzo Tweedy on the field? Will Logan Thomas play?
  • How many plays before the Hokie fans boo their own team?

Virginia Tech Offense vs. East Carolina Defense

  • We didn't show much of anything against JMU, so I'm looking to see what the offense does to become less predictable this time around. Do we show one look and motion into another?
  • I want to see if Tyrod Taylor keeps making lazy, sloppy play fakes or if his play is more crisp against the Pirates. Also, will he continue to underthrow receivers? His underthrows weren't a problem against Boise State because they led to pass interference calls. Against JMU, they cost us six points on fourth-and-two.
  • Look for the Hokies to try and attack the middle of the field, both in the running and passing games. Tulsa was able to get a consistent push against East Carolina in the opener, so there's no reason we shouldn't then again, last week the line couldn't do much of anything. And in that Tulsa game, East Carolina was without both of its backup defensive tackles, Michael Brooks and Antonio Allison. Both are bigger than the starters at DT and I expect both to see time in this game.
  •  The middle of the field will be open for Virginia Tech's receivers and tight ends. Tulsa killed ECU over the middle, getting mismatches against the Pirate linebackers. Look for the Hokies to try and do the same, both with Andre Smith and with guys like Danny Coale and Marcus Davis. I'm interested to see if the Hokies will run any more four-receiver sets and get our flankers open down the middle.
  • As for the running backs, I think the rotation is pretty much set. We're going to see David Wilson for one or two drives and we're going to see Darren Evans when Ryan Williams needs a rest, but for the most part, Williams is the man. If one guy gets hot, Billy Hite will go with the hot hand. But with this offensive line, it's been tough for any one back to get rolling.
  • When Boise State started jamming the box and stuffing the run, the Hokies ran a couple of screens to the outside the get the Boise defense to respect the pass. It opened more room for the backs. However, we never did that against James Madison. If ECU starts putting eight or nine in the box, I'd like to see Stinespring go back to those screen passes you all hate because they should get some yards and open up the field.
  • The problem with the Hokie offense isn't that they're trying to do too much, it's that they're trying to do too little. I don't think the solution is going out and playing Virginia Tech football. We tried to do that against James Madison, didn't do it effectively and turned the ball over. 
  • If we can get a consistent push against their defensive front and our receivers can get open, things will improve. If we run plays that set up other plays and give our players a chance to succeed if they execute, things will improve. But if we keep pounding the ball into the middle of an inadequate offensive line or run long-developing pass plays in obvious passing downs, things will not improve.
Virginia Tech Defense vs. East Carolina Offense
  • Previously: What We'll See From the Air Raid
  • The number one thing we have to do against East Carolina is get pressure on ECU QB Dominique Davis. With the wide spreads between ECU's offensive line, hopefully John Graves and the Hopkins brothers will be able to get to Davis and disrupt his timing.
  • If Steven Friday has a big game at defensive end, we will be in good shape. Teams that have success against the Air Raid are teams that get consistent pressure on the QB.
  • Look to see how Bud Foster plays the ECU receivers. An important part of disrupting the timing of the offense is bumping and being physical with the WRs at the line of scrimmage. However, VT will often invert its coverage and play the CBs deep off the line. I think ECU will have a lot of success if we do that this week.
  • Watch for the Pirates to do whatever they can to get the ball in the hands of their best playmaker, Dwayne Harris. Harris has 13 catches and two carries this season and I expect him to have a couple of carries against us as well. Hopefully our speed will be able to negate any run plays designed for Harris.
  • Harris plays on the inside, which means he'll probably be matched up against our whip linebacker, Jeron Gouveia-Winslow. JGW struggled in the Hokies' first two games and a change at the position has been hinted at, with Davon Morgan moving to whip from rover and playing Antone Exum at rover.
  • If Harris has a couple of big catches early I expect to see Morgan at whip.
  • The other wide receiver to watch for ECU isn't the one who made the catch on the Hail Mary to beat Tulsa, Justin Jones. Jones is a huge receiver at 6-8, 252, but he's still a freshman and Dwayne Harris' backup. Watch for another big receiver, Lance Lewis. Lewis plays one of the outside receiver positions and had two touchdowns against Tulsa. He's a tough guy to bring down when he gets the ball.
  • Another guy who's tough to bring down is running back Jonathan Williams. Tulsa missed a lot of tackles when Williams had the ball and his effectiveness running the ball really helped open things up for the ECU passing game against both Tulsa and Memphis. The Hokies ability to stop the ECU run game will be just as important as their ability to get pressure on Davis.
  • Davis himself gives the Air Raid an element that Texas Tech never when it ran the offense under Mike Leach. Davis' mobility and escapability gives the offense another weapon. The Pirates ran the QB draw against Tulsa and he was able to avoid the pass rush and get the ball down field. However, just like when he was at BC, Davis is prone to throw balls up for grabs. Hopefully the Hokies can take advantage of this.
Watch the Box Score
  • Turnovers
  • VT 3rd Down Pct
  • VT Sacks
  • ECU Yards Per Carry
Virginia Tech Players to Watch
  • 88 - Andre Smith, Sr., TE
  • 72 - Andrew Lanier, Jr., LT
  • 91 - John Graves, Sr., DT
  • 2 - Davon Morgan, Sr., ROV
East Carolina Players to Watch
  • 2 - Jonathan Williams, Sr., RB
  • 17 - Dwayne Harris, Sr., WR
  • 91 - Josh Smith, Sr., DT
  • 9 - Melvin Patterson, Sr., LB
Final Score

Virginia Tech 30, East Carolina 28