Virginia Tech and East Carolina have played plenty of entertaining games over the years. This year, the Hokies enter the game with a strong 2-0 start while ECU has struggled to an 0-2 start that has already led to a defensive coordinator change.
With that said, Henry Skutt gives us his Three Hokies to Watch against East Carolina.
The Running Backs
I know, I again have picked not just an individual, but more of a position group. Sue me. Against West Virginia, the Hokies had a really balanced offensive attack. They had one more passing yard than rushing, which is probably the most balanced I've ever seen the Hokies. However, they turned around and only gained 81 yards against Delaware. That's concerning.
East Carolina has a terrible
defense. I don't want to be mean, but that's the truth. They gave up 600+ yards and lost by 20 to James Madison (FCS). They were down 49-3 at halftime against West Virginia. I think it's accurate to say that they don't have a good defense.
This week is a great opportunity for the offense to get some wrinkles straightened out. If the Hokies can demonstrate that they have a more competent run game, the worries from last week will be dispersed a little more. Deshawn McClease has shown some serious promise, but he fumbled against West Virginia and Fuente really doesn't like fumbles.
Keep an eye out for who gets the majority of the touches, and which running back looks the most efficient against the porous East Carolina defense. Establishing a run game should hopefully be high on the priority list for the coaching staff on Saturday.
We all know that Cam Phillips is going to be a great receiver this year. But after Phillips, who else is going to be productive for Josh Jackson and Coach Fuente? Common sense points to Carroll as a returning player that had a successful 2016 season.
Carroll is very skilled at finding open space. Jackson has missed him a couple times in the first two games, but I'll blame that on Jackson playing his first real football games. I think it'll be important for Jackson and Carroll to start being more connected.
Again, playing against this Easy, cough
sorry East, Carolina defense, will allow for this offense to make some of those adjustments. The coaching staff has the freedom to play call some plays that might not work. Being able to find out those types of plays while in a real game situation is a huge advantage for Fuente and Jackson.
Look for Carroll to be involved more with the passing game. He had three catches for 56 yards last week against the Blue Hens, and I'm hoping to see him get close to or break the century mark. If he can establish himself as a solid 2nd receiver in this offense, it'll require defenses to stop double-teaming Phillips -- which in turn will open up opportunities for Phillips to produce.
This is a little bit of a fun pick. Stroman has been awarded the #25 jersey for the East Carolina game in 2017, just like he was in 2016. As talked about in this article
, he had quite the day in the jersey last year. He's already returned a punt this season, and it would be a really cool sight to see him run another one back against the Pirates. Do I think it'll happen? No. Do I want it to happen? Absolutely.
Alongside all of the ceremonial celebration for Stroman, he might be one of the best defensive backs on the team. Delaware seemed plenty afraid of throwing towards him, and I think it's warranted. I wouldn't be surprised to see him get an interception on Saturday if the Hokies defense continues to be as strong as it has been.
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