If there's going to be an overriding theme for Virginia Tech's game at East Carolina this week, it's probably going to be quarterback Logan Thomas making his first road start. Rowdy Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium can be a tough place to play, even if this one isn't going to be at night. Since 2007, ECU has beaten NC State, West Virginia and North Carolina at home and this weekend will look to add Virginia Tech's name to Dowdy's bedpost.
Virginia Tech, of course, lost to ECU in 2008, but that game was in Charlotte with Sean Glennon as the quarterback. The Hokies visited Greenville with Tyrod Taylor on a Thursday night in 2009 and won 16-3 in a game that saw the Hokies out-gain ECU by 132 yards on the ground.
How will Thomas handle the opposing crowd? Hopefully it won't matter.
Odds are the Hokies are going to try and keep Thomas from having to win this game. Expect to see a lot of David Wilson early and often as they attempt to keep the pressure off him. All that will be asked of Thomas is he manage the game and not make any mistakes that might cost the Hokies a loss.
That's been Virginia Tech's modus operandi whenever a QB has made his first career road start. The last nine Hokie QBs to make their first career road start have attempted an average of 17.4 passes and are 8-1. The only one to lose was Dave Meyer, who filled in for an injured Michael Vick in the 2000 Miami game, a 41-21 defeat.
Tyrod Taylor's first appearance came on the road against LSU, but his first road start was a 41-23 win over Clemson that saw the defense and special teams score points for Virginia Tech. In that game, Taylor was 7-for-14 for 65 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions.
Don't expect the play calling to ask Thomas to take any chances, either. He will be the fifth quarterback to start a road game for the Hokies since joining the ACC. The previous four didn't throw an interception, but they also combined for only two touchdowns and 358 passing yards.
A big key for the Hokies will be taking an early lead and not asking Thomas to lead some miracle comeback. I'm not saying that he doesn't have the capability to do so, but Tech would rather save his first heroic act as its QB for when he has more experience under his belt.
If Tech was going to lose a game in September, then surely this would be it. You never know what's going to happen when a QB gets his first tough road test and the Hokies will probably bank on their running backs to carry the load in Greenville this Saturday.
Turnovers helped East Carolina take a 17-0 lead against South Carolina last week in Charlotte. If the Pirates want to win this week, they'll have to stop the run and then force Thomas into bad decisions that lead to easy scoring opportunities. If that happens, then all bets are off and it will be up to Thomas to pull out a victory in a hostile environment.