Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Look Ahead: Virginia Tech vs. East Carolina

By Justin Cates

Editor's Note: J.C. Coleman will not travel with the team after tweaking his ankle against Western Carolina. 

People will think I'm nuts, but East Carolina's offense will test the Hokies more than Alabama's did.

The Crimson Tide were breaking in new starters on the offensive line and Tech largely dominated. 'Bama also runs the ball most of the time, waiting to burn you with play-action passes later on.

East Carolina passes, a lot.

Quarterback Shane Carden is off to an absolutely amazing start. In two games, the junior has completed 63-of-79 passes for 638 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions.

You read that correctly, he's completing 80 percent of his passes (technically 79.7).

They run a very high-tempo offense and throw the ball around to everyone. The Pirates will spread the defense and hope to get Tech on it's heels in the Hokies' first true road game of the season.

Shane Carden hopes to continue his hot start against the Hokies.

It's similar to what Oregon and now the Philadelphia Eagles try to do. They get one-on-one match ups in space and force the defense to make difficult open field tackles.

ECU won't run things quite as fast, but they'll push the tempo as much as they can.

"To be honest, I don't like to go down there to play them, just because it's so hot and is so high-tempo," defensive end James Gayle said this week.

The weather will be milder than normal this week, but it's clear the memories of Tech's narrow 17-10 victory on the last trip to Greenville persist.

ECU almost always gives Tech trouble and this time will be no different.

The Hokie offense has to keep getting better. Against Western Carolina, there were spurts of great execution but then the same inconsistencies would crop up.

Things are still a work in progress, but the young receivers are starting to step up, particularly in the form of Joshua Stanford.

True freshman Kalvin Cline had four catches for 46 yards against the Catamounts, but he did drop a fairly routine touchdown.

Cline is extremely raw, but he's vaulted to the top of the tight end rotation due to his pass catching ability.

Yes, Kalvin Cline knows the thing about his name.

It gives Logan Thomas another option and hopefully gives offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler the ability to use some of his tight end plays that were largely scrapped when Ryan Malleck was lost for the season. 

Tech needs to keep making progress in the passing game against the Pirates and keep running the football effectively.

Shane Beamer and Loeffler will look to begin establishing the specific roles of each running back now that the top four are likely available.

J.C. Coleman's status is still unclear after getting banged up in his first action against Western Carolina. I'll update after we see how he's listed on Thursday's injury report. 

This game will likely be very close unless the Hokie offense takes a giant leap forward. More likely, expect a positive step in the right direction with occasional moments of sloppiness.

Or, exactly what you would expect at this point with a brand new offensive system.

The defense will be challenged in the air but will look to stop the run as they've done twice this season.

Look for a fun and surprisingly interesting game NOON Saturday in Tech's first game on Fox Sports 1.

“To be honest, I don’t like going down there to play them, just because it’s hot and is so high-tempo,” - See more at:

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