#16 Virginia Tech at East Carolina Picks

By: Tim Thomas | @TimThomasTLP | Sep 15, 2017
Virginia Tech and East Carolina face off for the tenth time in the past 11 years in a game that has been full of intensity and passion from both sides. The Hokies have had some disappointing games against ECU including a home loss in 2014 the week after winning at Ohio State followed by a road loss in 2015. This year, the Hokies enter this game 2-0 and ranked 16th thanks mostly to a big win over West Virginia. Meanwhile, East Carolina has struggled to an 0-2 start with both losses being by 20 or more points including a 36-point loss at West Virginia last week. Despite East Carolina's struggles, the Pirates will be ready to go for Saturday so with that said, here are our picks for the Hokies and Pirates.

Tim Thomas

East Carolina has played Virginia Tech tough in the past but in those games, the Pirates have had a good football team. Right now, this ECU team is not good and no matter how much energy or intensity you bring, it's going to be hard for ECU to stay in this game. The Hokies have had their eyes on ECU for more than a week and unlike last week, they'll be ready to leave it all on the field against the Pirates. East Carolina will look to avoid getting blown out as they did at Lane Stadium last season, and playing at home will help, but there is chaos with this team especially with a defensive coordinator change. ECU's defense has been one of the worst in America so far this season. Josh Jackson and Cam Phillips both are poised for a big game as the Hokies will dominate both on the ground and through the air. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech's defense has been effective at preventing touchdowns and they will be able to do that against whoever the QB for ECU may be depending on the health of Thomas Sirk. Tremaine Edmunds seems poised for another big game after breaking out against Delaware while VT will have another strong defensive performance. This game will be over by the fourth quarter and the Hokies will get their chance to bring some backups in. Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium will be rocking early, but Jackson and the Hokies will take care of business and get to 3-0.

Prediction: #16 Virginia Tech 41, East Carolina 10

Evan Hughes

The first two games of the year have showcased brilliant performances on one side of the football for Virginia Tech. In the West Virginia game, it was all about the offense and Josh Jackson as they were able to light up the Mountaineers in the second half. In week two, the Lunch Pail Defense was on full display in a 27-0 shutout victory over the Delaware Blue Hens. The Hokies forced turnovers and were constantly applying pressure on the young Delaware offense. This week, the Hokies are going to put together great performances on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Despite Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium being a tough environment to play in and the Pirates always playing Tech tough, I like the Hokies to win 51-17 over the Pirates. East Carolina's defense has been under fire for the first two weeks, allowing 34 points to James Madison and 56 to West Virginia. After firing reassigning their defensive coordinator, it doesn't help ECU as much as people think in my opinion as the team will have to learn new schemes while prepping for the Hokies. Expect Josh Jackson and company to take full advantage of it.

Prediction: #16 Virginia Tech 51, East Carolina 17

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Dwight Lester

It's my least favorite week of football season, even behind the bye week. It's ECU week fans. I have developed a small hatred for the Pirates as they seem to be a huge thorn in the sides of our beloved Hokies. Records and point spreads mean literally nothing in this game. For the record, the Hokies are visiting 22.5-point favorites. I will say this, the Hokies better be taking the Pirates seriously or we will have a repeat of some years past, where a priming season started to skid off the rails. The Hokies' offense will need to be sharp and Josh Jackson will have to continue to be a smart field general. I was critical of the offense in my piece this week, but hopefully this is the breakout game all fans have been screaming for. Look for the running back to continue to be a merry-go-round of playing time. However, I do think Jalen Holston will get an increase of reps this game. The defense will need to contain yet another explosive offense. Even though their record doesn't show it, ECU can put up points. I think the starters will play an increased amount of snaps to try to keep the Pirates at bay. This game will not be a 23-point blow out like Vegas thinks. I see it as much, much closer than the experts think. The Hokies do win but not by as much as you might think. 28-20 feels right. Win by one or one hundred a win is a win. 3-0 Hokie fans until next time LETS GO HOKIES!!!

Prediction: #16 Virginia Tech 28, East Carolina 20

Robert Irby

After a mediocre-at-best performance against the Delaware Blue Hens, the #16 Virginia Tech Hokies travel to Greenville, NC on Saturday to take on the biggest thorn in their side, the East Carolina Pirates. Unlike previous years however, this ECU team is not up to their usual standard of constantly putting Power 5 opponents on upset alert. In their two games played this year, they have lost by a combined score of 90-34 against West Virginia (who the Hokies beat two weeks ago) and James Madison (a FCS opponent). The Hokies, meanwhile, look to bounce back after a somewhat disappointing showing against Delaware. Jackson struggled to complete passes in the first half, and the running game was nonexistent. Expect the Hokies to come out early and try to establish the run, and then allow Jackson to get comfortable. Unlike the offense, the Hokie defense is coming off of a very strong performance last week, posting only their third shutout in the last six years. They will face a familiar opponent in former Duke Quarterback Thomas Sirk, who has thrown four interceptions to go with only one touchdown this season. Expect the defense to build on their momentum and come out strong against a turnover-prone offense. ECU has been a regular opponent for Virginia Tech for the last ten years, and some might say a bit of a rivalry has developed. Despite the mismatch, I expect ECU to play motivated and cause this game to be competitive for at least a little while. However, with this ECU team in disarray and the Hokies looking to make a statement, I expect the defense to take control and Josh Jackson to begin to mature a little bit more with his decision-making, throwing for at least 3 touchdowns.

Prediction: #16 Virginia Tech 38, East Carolina 10

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David Cunningham

Virginia Tech is traveling to East Carolina this weekend, a place where the team is 3-1 since 2007 and 5-3 all-time. Josh Jackson is 31 for 54 so far this season, passing for 457 yards and three touchdowns, and has yet to turn the ball over this season, something Jerod Evans struggled with last season. Jackson has been 57% accurate in both of his games this season. Against the Pirates, I think he will get into a better rhythm and connect better with his receivers, throwing for 250-plus and two touchdowns. Jackson has also rushed for 131 yards on 19 carries in two games this season; I think with Jackson passing the ball so well this weekend, the running game will open up and one of the four backs, McClease, McMillan, Peoples, or Holston, will go for a plus-100 yard game, unless Cornelsen decides to share the football between three or four of the running backs. The wide receivers have been doing alright, with Sean Savoy and Cam Phillips getting most of the action. C.J. Carroll has helped contribute as well, and James Clark had one catch against Delaware. Tight ends Chris Cunningham, Dalton Keene, and Colt Pettit have combined for one catch but are blocking well, which has greatly helped the offense out. I think Cunningham catches a touchdown pass this weekend. Coach Bud Foster has the defense locked in and ready to play, and I think the defense will once again play well in the first road game of the season. Foster said playing at East Carolina is “going into a hornet’s nest.” I think both Edmunds brothers alongside Mook Reynolds and Andrew Motuapuaka will play well in this game, and the rotation on the defensive line will hopefully take shape. Tim Settle had a sack against West Virginia and Mihota contributed for a sack against Delaware, but besides that the defensive line has been decent. The line has held its own, but they can do much better, and I think that this weekend the line will get after the quarterback and have around four sacks. Special teams have been playing very well, and I think they will continue to do well, hopefully with Clark or Stroman returning a kick for a touchdown. Punter Oscar Bradburn has been outstanding so far this season, and he will continue to grow, while senior kicker Joey Slye will finally find his form and knock down one or two field goals for the Hokies this weekend. Virginia Tech will dominate East Carolina this weekend, and will grow as a team and play very well, with Jackson finally connecting with his receivers, and everyone stepping up and doing their job. Offense, defense, and special teams all play well, and the Hokies return to Blacksburg victorious.

Prediction: #16 Virginia Tech 41, East Carolina 7

Jackson Pugh

Quite simply, the Hokies are better than the Pirates in about every facet of the game. The linebacking duo of Tremaine Edmunds and Andrew Motuapuaka will have no problem stuffing the ECU running game. The secondary will have no problem against the ECU passing attack. The interesting part will be seeing how much progress the Hokie’s offense is making with their first year quarterback Josh Jackson. This week, Virginia Tech will find the running game that was there against West Virginia. The running back by committee approach with McMillian, McClease, and Peoples will give the ECU front seven problems. The struggling secondary of ECU should give the Hokies an idea of who Cam Phillips’ compliment will be; who will be the other receiver stretching the field, making plays? Sean Savoy? CJ Carroll? Somebody will step up, and the Hokie offense will be back on track. Although ECU has given Virginia Tech problems in the past, this game will be more of an experiment for Tech than a contest. This week will be an important one for Tech to find their offense where it left off last week.

Prediction: #16 Virginia Tech 45, East Carolina 7

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