Week four of the college football season has arrived as the Virginia Tech Hokies travel to Greenville, North Carolina to take on the East Carolina Pirates. The Hokies will be looking for some revenge this year after the Pirates shocked the Hokies in Lane Stadium last season one week after the Hokies had won on the road at Ohio State.
The Hokies have a chance to make a statement with much of the East Coast being able to see the game on ABC and the rest of the nation getting the game on ESPN2. Virginia Tech will be looking to get revenge and go to 3-1 in their final non-conference game of the season before a return home to open the ACC schedule against a weak Pittsburgh team.
Now, here is our look at the Hokies to watch in this showdown with ECU.
RB J.C. Coleman
J.C. Coleman might be the Hokies’ starting running back officially, but the senior isn’t Virginia Tech’s top rusher. Coleman has 104 rushing yards so far on an average of 4.2 yards per carry, which is less than both Trey Edmunds and Virginia Tech’s leading rusher, Travon McMillian.
However, Coleman seems poised to go off for a big game soon, and the East Carolina rush defense seems very vulnerable.
East Carolina is not as good on the defensive line as they were last year while the Virginia Tech offensive line is the best that is has been in years. Coleman has been getting his fair share of carries, and has been steady so far with not a single run for a loss yet this year.
So far though, Coleman hasn’t had the same success that he had at the end of last season, but Coleman seems due to have a strong game soon, and ECU seems like it may be the right opponent for that.
Coleman has continued to get stronger, but still has that great speed and burst that make him very dangerous whenever he gets a hole. With Wyatt Teller and Jonathan McLaughlin leading the way on the left side of the offensive line, Coleman may have some big carries in this game, and do some significant damage.
DE Dadi Nicolas
Who would’ve thought that after three games, Dadi Nicolas and Ken Ekanem would have a total of zero sacks. Both of these players will be frustrated and desperate to finally get a sack, but our focus this week is more on Nicolas than Ekanem.
The senior defensive end knows that his struggles to get a sack can only go on so long before it starts hurting his draft stock, but Nicolas seems poised to have a big game very soon.
Nicolas is one of the fastest defensive ends and top edge rushers in college football, and will see the Saturday afternoon stage at a great chance to make a statement. Nicolas may be lined up a lot against senior left tackle Ike Harris, but Nicolas will be looking not only for revenge for last year’s game, but also to prove that he still has it.
Nicolas is poised for a big game soon, and it will come in the next two weeks whether it’s at home against Pittsburgh next Saturday or against the Pirates. Nicolas knows that this is a big chance to get back to normal as a sack machine, and don’t be surprised if he as a sack or two against East Carolina.
DB Adonis Alexander
Adonis Alexander showed a lot of promise, and leapfrogged Desmond Frye at rover to make his first career start at Purdue. Alexander shined in that game with seven tackles (all unassisted) and his second interception of the season to even earn the Wes Worsham Player of the Game honors.
Alexander will look to build on his impressive game with another solid road performance against an East Carolina that runs a pass-heavy offense compared to Purdue’s run and play action pass attack.
Alexander’s coverage and ball-hawking skills have improved a lot over the last few months while Bud Foster and Torrian Gray are doing a great job of developing his instincts. Alexander is also one of the Hokies’ best open-field tacklers that is very useful is containing opposing running backs that get the outside and try to get a big play.
East Carolina will know about Alexander a lot more now, and probably knew that this guy had talent as one of only eight programs to actually offer him a scholarship. Alexander is going to be a great player and while he may not have as good of a game as he did last week, expect the freshman rover to make some plays against the Pirates.