Virginia Tech (1-1) at East Carolina (2-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 14, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (50,000) -- Greenville, North Carolina. Television: Fox Sports 1. Home Record: VT 1-0, ECU 2-0. Away Record: VT 0-0, ECU 0-0. Neutral Record: VT 0-1, ECU 0-0. Conference Record: VT 0-0, ECU 1-0. Series Record: Virginia Tech leads, 12-5.
GAME NOTES: The East Carolina Pirates will try to stay perfect as they host the Virginia Tech Hokies for a non-conference matchup at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Virginia Tech bounced back from a lopsided week one loss to defending national champion Alabama, with a 45-3 rout of Western Carolina last week. The Hokies had won 10 or more games in eight consecutive seasons before their 7-6 overall finish to 2012. Virginia Tech is 20-6 under Beamer in games played in the state of North Carolina.
This will be the 18th meeting in history between these schools. The Hokies hold a 12-5 all-time series lead including their 5-2 mark at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Five of the seven games in ECU's stadium have been decided by seven points or less.
Ruffin McNeill's Pirates coasted to a 31-13 decision in their C-USA opener last week. This will be the final segment of their three-game homestand to begin the 2013 slate. ECU went 8-5 a year ago and has won four of its last five games, though it fell, 43-34, to Louisiana in the New Orleans Bowl. It was picked to win the C-USA East Division by the league's 14 head coaches in the preseason poll.
ECU has yet to face an opponent as strong as Tech or a quarterback as talented as Logan Thomas. The Hokies racked up 462 yards of total offense in their victory over the Catamounts with Thomas accounting for 200 yards on 17-of-31 passing. The 6-foot-6 senior signal caller led the Hokies with a school record of 3,500 yards of total offense last season and became the first quarterback to lead the team in rushing since 1965.
Thomas has not posted great numbers thus far. He has completed only 38.6 percent of his passes for 259 yards with one touchdown to three interceptions, but those numbers should improve as he plays more defenses not coached by Nick Saban. The trip to Greenville could provide a milestone moment for Thomas, who needs just 18 more pass attempts to more in front of Will Furrer's school record of 920.
None of the Hokies wideouts have established themselves as the number one option so far. Joshua Stanford is the leading receiver with only five catches. Freshman tight end Kalvin Cline made four receptions for 46 yards in his collegiate debut against WCU.
The Hokies have a very reliable ball carrier in redshirt freshman Trey Edmunds, who has already amassed 200 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries. Edmunds, Chris Mangus and Joel Caleb combined for 188 of Virginia Tech's 237 rushing yards and accounted for four touchdowns last week. Edmunds scored his first career touchdown on a 77-yard run against Alabama. Mangus ripped off a 75-yard touchdown run against WCU.
Virginia Tech ranked 18th among FBS teams in total defense last season and is once again one of the best in the nation at stopping its opponent. The Hokies have allowed 217 yards or less of total offense in four consecutive games. They currently rank third in the nation in pass efficiency defense (80.5). Senior linebacker Jack Tyler tied for fourth in the ACC in total tackles last season with 119. He already has 19 to go along with two tackles for loss and a sack in 2013.
Even the Hokies' top-notch pass defense will have trouble against the duo of Shane Carden and Justin Hardy. Carden opened up the season with a record- setting performance versus ODU, completing 46 passes for 447 yards and five touchdowns. The junior quarterback followed up with a strong showing against FAU as he completed 17-of-25 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns. He found eight different receivers for at least one reception in the victory over the Owls.
Hardy enters Saturday having made at least three catches in each of his first 25 career games. The speedy junior wideout made his 18th career touchdown reception last week against FAU. Hardy has tallied 227 yards on 20 catches through two games. Danny Webster is also a factor in the passing game and ranks second on ECU with 83 yards on nine receptions.
Senior tailback Vintavious Cooper surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in 2012, but he has been less effective this season with only 133 yards on 32 carries.
The Pirates have played two weak offensive teams this season. However, they have only been able to average 25.5 yards of total offense more per game. ECU came up with three turnovers, two interceptions and a fumble recovery, in the win over FAU. Junior linebacker Brandon Williams made a strong impression last week with eight solo tackles, two stops for loss and a forced fumble. Senior defensive end Lee Pegues registered his first three sacks of the season in the contest also.
The Pirates are not going to be a cakewalk for Virginia Tech. Carden has developed into a solid field general capable of spearheading a rally effort. Thomas will need to limit his turnovers to take pressure off of his defense or ECU could send the Hokies back below the .500 mark.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Tech 31, East Carolina 28
09/11 10:33:26 ET