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Virginia Tech 49, East Carolina 27: Postgame Stream of Consciousness

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The Hokies appear to have lost their star running back for the foreseeable future, but earned a big win before beginning ACC play. Ryan Williams had just 10 yards on six carries before being carried off the field with an injury to his right hamstring. However, the Hokies out-scored East Carolina 28-3 in the second half to earn their first win of the season.

The Defense

  • Virginia Tech's two halves can be personified by cornerback Rashad Carmichael. He had a horrible first half, committing two key pass interference penalties and had Dwayne Harris catch a touchdown over his head as the Hokies trailed, 24-21.
  • In the second half, Carmichael and the Hokies redeemed themselves. Rock had interceptions on two consecutive drives. The first he returned 68 yards for a touchdown, tight-roping the sideline and then dragging Dominique Davis into the end zone. After the second, Virginia Tech scored on the next play and led, 49-27.
  • A big thanks to whoever said whatever to the defense at halftime. In the first half, we saw a lot of what we saw from the defense in the first two games. There were missed tackles, missed assignments and overall undisciplined play. In the second half, the Hokies' D fired on all cylinders, put pressure on Davis and made his life miserable in general.
  • The tackling also improved in the second half. It was almost like a switch was flipped from the poor D we saw against BSU and JMU and the second half on Saturday.
  • Bruce Taylor wound up having a great game. He had a key third-down sack of Davis and was in on nine total tackles from the middle linebacker spot.
  • Two more defensive players who played well were Antone Exum and J.R. Collins. Exum saw a lot of time at rover today while Davon Morgan moved over to whip in place of Jeron Gouveia-Winslow. Exum delivered out of this nickel look, wrapping up on tackles and playing well in coverage. 
  • The Hokies showed both a 3-3-5 and 4-2-5 look out of the nickel today and had a lot of success out of the 4-2-5 in the second half. A lot of it was due to Collins, who put a lot of pressure on Davis despite not recording a sack. He did force some bad throws by Davis, one of which was intercepted.
  • The Hokies played without starting field cornerback Jayron Hosley, who was suspended for violating team rules. Hosley was replaced, not by Cris Hill, but surprisingly by freshman Kyle Fuller. Fuller's start was surprising because the coaches raved about Hill throughout the preseason. It's interesting that Fuller has jumped ahead of him on the depth chart. Maybe the coaches felt Fuller was a better fit in the nickel package?
The Offense
  • For the first half and the first drive of the second, the Hokies actually decided to throw the ball on first down. However, most of the throws were deep and incomplete. Tech seems to only run short-yardage routes on third and long, which is mystifying to me.
  • Tech rarely worked the middle of the field through the air, but when it did, it was successful. This includes the touchdown pass to Dyrell Roberts in the first half. The middle of the field was easily exploited against ECU all day and Tech was able to take advantage of it in key situations.
  • I'm starting to have serious concerns about Tyrod's accuracy. He overthrew everything deep today and underthrew a lot of balls against BSU and JMU. He seemed to improve his accuracy last year and set a goal for himself to complete 70 percent of his passes this year. I don't think he's going to wind up anywhere near that.
  • After the Williams injury, both David Wilson and Darren Evans ran the ball 10 times. Wilson seemed to run better than Evans, although Evans wound up with more yards. This probably appeared to be the case because Evans fumbled on the Hokies' second play of the third quarter. While both will get plenty of carries the rest of the year, the question will be whether Wilson eventually becomes Tech's No. 1 option.
  • Wilson's speed helped him get to the holes quicker in the first half, which is why he was able to have success while the offensive line was still struggling.
  • The amazing thing was that the offensive line was able to improve in the second half and with the help of the two running backs, were able to wear down the ECU defensive front. There's still hope for this offensive line, which got better as the game wore on.
  • The Hokies' offensive line improved its pass blocking but Tyrod Taylor still wound up having to scramble around a lot. What amazed me is that the Hokies continue to call long pass plays, where receivers need time to get open, when the offensive line is still struggling at pass blocking. To me, it would make a lot of sense to have a shorter passing game when the offensive line is having trouble pass blocking so that Tyrod can get rid of the ball quicker. Tyrod's accuracy issues early on is another reason to go with shorter routes instead of the long balls we've seen early this season.
The Team
  • Early on, I was concerned by the lack of emotion and by the body language from the team. They really seemed defeated. But something changed in the second half and toward the end, the Hokies appeared to have a lot more confidence. Again, this was personified by Rashad Carmichael.
  • The big thing we need to see now from the Hokies is consistently. They absolutely cannot come out and play the way they did in the first half today against Boston College. That is just not going to work against Montel Harris and against the BC defense.
  • Win No. 1. Let's enjoy it.
  • What did you notice in the game today? What gives you hope for the rest of the season? What do we still have to work on going into our first two ACC games?