Coming into the game at 1-2 on the year, the East Carolina Pirates needed a win versus Virginia Tech badly. They overcame adversity, the weather, and a comeback attempt in pulling off an impressive win over the Hokies. What did we learn about the Pirates in this win over Virginia Tech?
We May Have A Quarterback Controversy: Coming in as the starter when Kurt Benkert went down with an ACL tear, Blake Kemp has generally done a good job. The problem with his play is that his mistakes turn into huge momentum swinging plays. Against Virginia Tech, he drove the team for two touchdowns, but was also responsible for Virginia Tech getting the ball on the ECU 31 and 19 yard lines in the first two drives. Backup James Summers came in and showed an ability to run the ball from the quarterback position that had been lacking. The 41-yard touchdown run from Summers was the play of the game. There will be much more about the quarterback issue from me in the next few days.
The Defense Can Make Some Plays: Yes, Virginia Tech put up over 400 yards of total offense versus the Pirates. ECU’s defense is built to give up yards but stop the opponent’s offense before they get in scoring range. Of Virginia Tech’s 28 points, half of them came from drives that started inside the ECU 31-yard line. At one point, the Pirates defense stopped Virginia Tech without points on five straight possessions. During that time, ECU went from trailing 14-7 to leading 28-14.
There Are Still Major Running Game Issues: Summers came off the bench for 169 yards on 21 carries from the quarterback position. Outside of Summers, the team rushed for 17 yards on 20 carries. Starting running back Chris Hairston rushed for 154 yards in the season opener. Since then he has rushed for 15, 38, and 3 yards in the last three games. This is a serious issue for the Pirates moving forward.
Jordan Williams Is A Star In the Making: The ECU coaching staff has been hoping for big things from the sophomore inside linebacker. Much of the hope was for the future after he took some lumps as a starter this fall. Williams was excellent versus Virginia Tech with a team-leading 13 tackles, to go along with 0.5 tackles for loss and a huge interception. Williams now leads the team in tackles for loss and sacks and is tied with Zeek Bigger for the team lead in tackles.
Special Teams Was Excellent: Virginia Tech is a team that takes pride in being a very good special teams program. Earning hidden yard in the return game is a way for them to flip the field and take pressure off of the offense. ECU kicker Caleb Pratt had only one mistake in the game, a kickoff out of bounds, but was able to consistently force the Hokies to start at their own 25-yard line. Four of his six kickoffs were for touchbacks. Punter Worth Gregory was even better with three of his five punts pinning Virginia Tech inside their own 20-yard line. Outside of the two turnover drives, Virginia Tech’s average starting field position was their own 21-yard line.