I’m here today to just vent a little. Not a lot, because some of it we did to ourselves, but a little. This ECU thing has to stop. And I’m not here to denigrate them or cast aspersions on their character- that’s unnecessarily base. I’m here to say that this ‘thing’ needs to stop. The ECU ‘thing’ is a most curious and vexing phenomena that I truly wish was explicable. Well, it’s explicable, but it’s completely unflattering.
In more specific terms, when’s the last time we blew ECU out of the water? I mean heck we lost to them two years in a row. Last year’s game was just plain mean, losing 35-28 in a flurry of odd calls and continually poor defense. James Summers ripped us up, no doubt. Bud and his running quarterback thing reared its ugly head again. And of course the failure against them in Blacksburg in 2014, where we let them explode in the first quarter, then proceeded to shut them down until we let them bomb their way downfield after a bad kick out of bounds to enable our own defeat. But let’s run down the scores and general tenor of these games, as we’ve played nine times in the past 10 years.
2015: 35-28 ECU. Ugly game in the rain with a game that portended (or continued) the defensive problems that plagued the team last year and for many years before that. James Summers ripped us for 179 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, to go with 110 yards passing and a touchdown.
2014: 28-21 ECU. Felled by long passes in a game that we were lucky to even struggle back into after 3 quarters of mostly inept offensive play. One awful quarter and one end of game drive did the Hokies in. The Hokies did a decent job of covering Justin Hardy but an AWFUL job of covering Cam Worthy, allowing 224 yards.
2013: 15-10 VT. A game where almost no one could score. The Hokies couldn’t pull away despite intercepting Shane Carden 3 times and causing a fumble they couldn’t recover. In fact, despite converting 9 of 20 third downs and possessing the ball for 36 minutes, the Hokies only had two touchdown passes from Logan Thomas to show for it. And, of course, only 67 yards on the ground despite 34 attempts.
2012: No game.
2011: 17-10 VT. What another blech game. When you’ve got two TDs run in by Josh Oglesby, you know the game went weird. Despite 143 yards from David Wilson, the passing game couldn’t get going as Logan Thomas was 8-20 with an interception, and only 91 yards in the air- 20 of which on one pass alone. VT also lost a fumble, though ECU threw an interception to leave the turnover margin at -1.
2010: 49-27 VT. Okay, here’s a good year. But this was the year VT was completely loaded, and it still took us until the 4th quarter to pull away. Tyrod was only 8-16 with 199 yards and 2 TDs, but we still had 41 rushes for 278 yards and 4 touchdowns. We even lost a fumble, though we picked off Dominique Davis twice. It wasn’t as easy a game as it even looked in the end because ECU led at halftime and we were going to end up 1-3 if we lost that game. Coming back in the third and fourth quarter and scoring 28 unanswered points saved us.
I’m going to stop there because now we get into the realms of things that really don’t have much bearing, but let’s list the scores for kicks: 2009:16-3 VT. 2008: 22-27 ECU. 2007: 17-7 VT. What a load. Not ONE of these games were anything I’d consider a true blowout. Even the 2010 game was a blowout by the end result more than the tenor of the actual game.
What I mean to say is that all these years of mediocrity have dragged us into the muck, sure, but with ECU? They’ve ALWAYS gotten up to play us. 100% of the time we’ve had trouble with them. This leaves us with an uncomfortable truth. Bud’s Defense has GENERALLY done well against them. Eventually everything is figured out, but the past two years and once in the past he got bombed a bit. We’re not going to get calls, we’re not going to get the benefit of the doubt. Each and every year we play them it’s more of a dogfight than we want or bargained for.
I’m saying that it needs to stop because if Tech wants to be taken seriously it can’t really afford to struggle with Group of 5 teams. When style points still matter and efficacy of offense is measured in points rather than wins, you can’t be tied up with the Pirates. I’ve heard frequently that this is a game that Tech should remove from its schedule- if we win, no one cares because it’s ECU. If we lose, everyone cares because it’s ECU. In my mind it’s more of a big game than we think. This is a measuring stick game this year. Maybe this offense will actually yield positive results- the past ones weren’t exactly working well. Maybe this time the defense will revert to how it was in some of the past games rather than the last two years where we gave up 28 and 35 points. But this year is the year that the annual trouble with ECU has to cease. Saying ‘statement game’ is kind of a hyperbole, but it would at least start a shift. Let’s get moving in the right direction. No more struggling with Group of 5 teams, no more misguided or mismatched performances.