clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Virginia Tech football: A closer look at the East Carolina Pirates

These aren’t the same ol’ Pirates that beat the Hokies in 2014 & 2015.

NCAA Football: East Carolina at Virginia Tech
Former Virginia Tech WR Isaiah Ford with a big catch vs. ECU in 2016
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Tech Hokies are facing the East Carolina Pirates at the perfect time. Coming off a 0-2 start with blowout losses to James Madison and West Virginia, the Pirates reassigned defensive coordinator Kenwick Thompson and named former Hargrave Military Academy coach Robert Prunty the new coordinator.


Prunty, who was defensive line coach before his promotion, is well-known to the state of Virginia, and especially to Virginia Tech fans. But he has his work cut out for him with this bunch. In two weeks, ECU has allowed an average of 616.5 total yards per game. The Pirates’ first loss, to JMU, came at home by a score of 34-14. Keep in mind, JMU is an FCS school. The Dukes aren’t just any FCS school, they are the defending FCS national champions, but it’s still a tough pill to swallow for East Carolina fans.

Two years ago, the school made the controversial decision to part ways with Ruffin McNeill as head coach. McNeill did a good job at East Carolina, compiling a record of 43-34 in six seasons as head coach. He was also an alumnus of ECU. The truth was many of the donors weren’t happy to see offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley depart for the same position at Oklahoma.

How was that McNeill’s fault? For the record, Riley is now the head coach at OU.

The Pirates hired Scottie Montgomery, the offensive coordinator at Duke, to replace McNeill. It hasn’t gone well. After a record of 3-9 last year, Montgomery is now 3-11 as head coach. Montgomery was considered one of the top up-and-comers in college football when the Pirates hired him. The school wanted an offensive guy in charge after seeing the job Riley did with the offense during his time there. McNeill was the sacrificial lamb.

Hey, not all is bad for McNeill now, as he’s currently working under Riley as the assistant head coach at Oklahoma after a one-year stint at UVa.

The Hokies aren’t taking ECU for granted, though. Head coach Justin Fuente noted this week how tough East Carolina’s schedule is per Andy Bitter, of the Roanoke Times.

I know there are not a lot of people in America running to their ADs asking for James Madison to get on the schedule. I can promise you that. That’s a fine football team, and West Virginia kind of got on them early. We know how good West Virginia is. He’s right.

WVU and JMU are both good to varying degrees. West Virginia is definitely a top-25 team, while the Dukes will once again compete for an FCS national championship. But, a lot of that is coachspeak. Fuente is not going to give any opponent extra motivation.

This game won’t be easy. The Hokies will have to work for it. However, they are in no danger of losing this one. This East Carolina bunch just isn’t very good.