Tech defense dominates ECU, Hokies win 15-10

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This Demitri Knowles touchdown helped spark a win over ECU.
This Demitri Knowles touchdown helped spark a win over ECU.

It wasn’t a pretty game, but it counts in the win column.  Virginia Tech’s usually stout defense overcame a rough day for Cody Journell , and the Hokies beat East Carolina 15-10 in Greenville on Saturday afternoon.

Journell missed field goals of 38 and 40 yards, as well as an extra point.  He also missed a shorter field goal later in the game, but it was wiped out because of a running into the kicker penalty.  Coming into Saturday, Journell had never missed more than one field goal during a game, but his struggles against ECU nearly cost the Hokies.

However, the defense was there to pick up the slack.  After allowing a touchdown on ECU’s opening possession, Bud Foster’s group tightened up.  The held the Pirates to just 204 yards of total offense – the fifth consecutive opponent that they have held to 217 yards or less.  They also sacked quarterback Shane Carden seven times, intercepted him three more times, and sacked him for a safety with under two minutes remaining to ice the game.

The Tech defense dominated the ECU offense.
The Tech defense dominated the ECU offense.

Many Tech defenders recorded tackles for loss, sacks and interceptions…

James Gayle : 2.5 TFL, 2 sacks
J.R. Collins : 2.5 TFL, 2 sacks
Tariq Edwards : 2.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 interception
Jack Tyler : 2 TFL, 1 sack
Brandon Facyson : 2 interceptions

As an offense, East Carolina averaged just 3.8 yards per play.  After their initial touchdown on the opening drive, the Hokies allowed only a field goal on a possession that began at the Tech 36 yard line.  They gave up 75 yards and seven points on that first possession, but just 129 yards and three points the rest of the way.

Defensively, the Pirates used a gameplan that you can expect other opponents to adopt throughout the season.  They stacked the box to take away the run, and forced the Hokies to beat them through the air.  Brent Benedict got the start at right tackle over Laurence Gibson , and Andrew Miller missed quite a bit of practice this week with an ankle sprain, and the Tech running game didn’t have much luck.  The Hokies ran for just 53 yards on 34 carries.

The Tech passing game showed improvements against ECU, with Logan Thomas going 25-of-43 for 258 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.  He completed 58.1% of his passes, which he only did twice all of last season.  His interception was yet again on a deep ball to Demitri Knowles , who failed to be physical and prevent the defensive back from making a play.

Willie Byrn had another big day for the Hokies.
Willie Byrn had another big day for the Hokies.

Other than that play, Knowles was much improved against ECU.  Here’s how the receiving numbers looked…

Demitri Knowles : 8 catches, 99 yards, 1 TD
Willie Byrn : 7 catches, 63 yards
D.J. Coles : 3 catches, 39 yards, 1 TD
Joshua Stanford : 3 catches, 26 yards
Trey Edmunds : 2 catches, 20 yards
Chris Mangus : 1 catch, 7 yards
Kalvin Cline : 1 catch, 4 yards

There were still a few drops by the wide receivers, but on the whole the passing game took a step forward against East Carolina.

Logan Thomas threw a 30 yard touchdown pass to Demitri Knowles in the first quarter to tie the game at seven, and he later hit D.J. Coles in the back of the endzone on a three yard strike to cap a 10 play, 75 yard drive.  That put Tech up 13-10 in the third quarter, but then Cody Journell ‘s struggles began.

Journell missed an extra point that would have made the score 14-10.  After an interception by Brandon Facyson , the offense was held to a three and out, and Journell pushed a 38 yard field goal to the right.  After a three and out by ECU, the Tech offense promptly marched down the field and into Pirate territory, but Journell badly pulled a 40 yard attempt to the left.

A Tariq Edwards interception on the next ECU drive gave the Hokies the ball at the Pirate 49.  Tech drove to the ECU 15, and on fourth and six Journell missed a 32 yard field goal partly because of a high snap.  However, the ECU defense ran into him, and the five yard penalty made it fourth and one at the 10.

At that point Frank Beamer didn’t seem to trust Journell.  He elected to run a quarterback sneak for the first down, but it was stuffed.  ECU took over at their own 10 yard line with 2:11 to play, and that’s when the Tech defense iced the game.

On the first play of ECU’s drive, Tariq Edwards and Derrick Hopkins combined to sack Shane Carden for a six yard loss.  On the next play, James Gayle soundly beat the right tackle to hit Carden from the blindside.  Carden fumbled in the endzone, and ECU was able to fall on the football for a safety.  The Pirates had to kickoff to the Hokies, and their onside kick went out of bounds, and the Virginia Tech offense was able to run out the clock.

The Tech defense was dominant as usual, and Logan Thomas and his receivers took a step forward.  However, the offense and special teams still left points on the board.  Virginia Tech got three interceptions in ECU territory, and failed to convert the opportunities into any points.  Had they managed to convert any of those turnovers into points, their win would have been much more comfortable.

The Hokies will return to action next Saturday when they host Marshall in Lane Stadium.  Kickoff is scheduled for noon, and the game will be televised by either ESPNU, ESPNews, or ESPN3.

Box Score (HokieSports.com)

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35 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Only offense in college football that, against ECU, can be the beneficiary of two 5-yard penalties on the same series of 4 downs and NOT get a first down in four plays! No imagination, just awful play calling. Do we hold Lefty accountable yet, or is he honeymoon still in effect? Go Hokies! Defense was great!

    1. Alot of our 1st and second down plays were a result of Logan not seeing ECU had 7 or 8 in the box and not calling an audible to counter the blitz. The result is Edmunds getting smacked right at the line. Even with the penalties, zero yards ain’t gonna get a first.
      Play calling wasn’t great, but Logan’s got to read the blitz better…..but I’m sure that’s hard for a tight end

      1. totally agree, we ran right into 6-7 men in the box right up the middle ALOT. Edmunds is better than that as we know. If LT cannot see that and check out of the play by now, he never will so dont get hopes up. unless he isnt allowed to check out of the play…..

  2. Running inside all day was an attempt to gain space on the outside. Make them commit an extra body to the box to get 1 on 1 on the outside. Reason why the passing game was better. Plus, ECU 324 lb NG had an outstanding game. I think we may see him in the league.

  3. I think Willie Bryn has picked up right where the Fuller’s brother left off. I am glad to see it didn’t take 5 or 6 games to figures it out. The secondary looks great! No wonder Manning tucked tail and left, as Frank continues to say” We gotta get better offensively”. Seems to becoming a clique!

  4. Can’t be too critical of the D, but why do they always give up a TD on the first drive, then make adjustments and play better. Is Foster better at making game adjustments than game planning before the game? I can think of at least a dozen games with same scenario. What happened to Cody? Did he just have a bad day, was he ill? Ouch!

    1. As for as Journell, some of the snaps were bad. It seemed like the holder did of good job of adjusting, but it might have been a timing thing.

  5. The passing game has improved, but it tends to sputter or disappear in the red zone. I think we need to have DJ Coles and K. Cline on the field down there because they are our best “big target” receivers. Another guy you would think could contribute is Smiling. He’s 6-3 and supposedly a big leaper, but he’s barely made it on the field in four years with the program. Maybe the offense should start borrowing Facyson when they’re in the red zone. He goes to the ball better than any of WRs.

  6. I for one am very pleased to see some glimmer of hope for this edition of Hokies offence, but I to see a plan or improvement, with hopes of more of the same the next game…… Go Hokies…..Beat Marshall.

  7. Yes Knowles failed to be physical. He is not Marcus Davis. Stop expecting him to be. Knowles had a good game, but he is not going to win jump balls.

  8. LT had a pretty good game but he still scares me with those high passes. If Overton had not dropped a sure interception we may well be lamenting a loss this morning. If Logan has a really bad day against an ACC opponent resulting in a loss, I don’t see how the coaching staff won’t be compelled to at least give Leal a shot to see if there is improvement

  9. We all want it now and that will be very difficult with new coaches and previously recruited players. As someone said above, I do see an offensive plan forming, just maybe not as quickly as we would like. It took years for our offence to reach this point, how can we logically expect it be fixed in three games?

    On a positive note, I have noticed much more separation by our receivers, especially in the last two games. Not just one, but two and even sometimes three are open to some degree. In previous years it appeared that most of our pass routes did not achieve any separation whatsoever. Also, if you saw the EC game, our receivers are blocking or at least trying to block downfield. This too has gotten better with each game.

    1. Yes, because his ST coach kept missing his kicks.

      Maybe you missed the excellent coverage on kicks and the roc solid punting.

      1. Kick coverage was okay but not excellent. Tech needs to learn to tka a knee on high kickoffs three yards deel in the corner of teh endzone. Running that kick out helped ECU get the field goal in the third quarter.

  10. If the offense could ever catch up even slightly with the defense I think we could make some noise on a national level but its just so frustrating to have a defense that plays their hearts out and if they have a bad game they can’t rely on the offense to pull the game out…..smh!

  11. Did we ever try to run outside the entire game? Seems like most plays were just right into the middle of the line.

    1. Not much. There was a successful run or two in which Edmunds started up the middle and broke it to an outside lane that produced yards. but there was nothing like the couple of runs last week,

    2. Yeah, mangus into the line. Damn! Beaamer is stubborn. He’s been doing that for years…he demands that his running backs run inside, even the smalish guys. It’s practically a physical impossibility, but don’t tell Beamer that after 27 years on continually trying it. Aggravating, especially when we can’t get but 53 yards on ECU the whole day.

      1. Don’t believe Beamer has anything to do with the offense, game plan, calls, etc. Maybe the last few years, but not anymore.

      2. Where do you guys continue to get the idea that Frank Beamer draws up the game plan. Do you HONESTLY think we could have gotten anyone to take the job of “offensive caretaker” while the head coach made the game-plan?

        Running up the gut was Scott’s plan, it was called as the smart thing to do by every TSL guru who wrote about the game-plan; (ESPECIALLY) since ECU had two LBs out of the game. It was a solid game-plan that crashed and burned. I thought we would have gone to something else myself, but I have long decided to completely give Scott Loeffler a pass this year before I start second-guessing. It is obvious that it will take him a while to get his guys and his game-plan in place. Unlike algroh who always played the season with “next year’s players”, Scott is playing THIS season with LAST year’s players. It will take more than 3 games, as frustrating as it is to ALL of us.

        A couple of things you can take to the bank…one is that if we do NOT develop a team that can GET those yards up the middle (even 1 yard with a 6″6″” 260lb QB), we will NEVER be any good. The second given is that Frank will let Scott Loeffler and HIS staff develop the plan, call the plays, play who he decides to play. I think it’s a pretty good idea for the rest of us to follow Frank’s lead on that.

        Since this went WAY too long already, I’ll add one other note. I think we FINALLY DO have a plan. on offense. It isn’t complete, and we obviously haven’t gotten to where it WORKS they way we want it to, but at least there IS a definitive plan in place!

  12. Would have liked to have seen a triple option play on that last 4th and 1. Logan up the middle is the obvious play and we weren’t moving the ball up the middle. That or an underneath route which seemed to be working all day long. A play action into it. Of course that’s all Monday morning qb and all but I’d like to see some creativity there when the running game up the middle has been flat all day.

    1. I was yelling at the TV about LT up the middle – ECU saw it coming on that 4th & 1! Why didn’t we check out of it?

    1. Yes, as will Marshall. Heck, the next four games are potential nail-biters. I expect us to win at least 3 of 4, but we might be in store for some more Saturdays like today.

    2. They’re all going to be tough contests, especially this year. Just have confidence that things will eventually get better as time goes by and the new offensive staff continues to work their plan. Think of where we might be today if Coach FB hadn’t acted. I already feel we’re miles ahead of last year, but progress happens a little at a time. Have faith. I’m feel confident VT football is back on the right track. GO HOKIES!!

  13. Well, leaving points on the field is still a good improvement over not being in position for the oppertunity. Hopefully things come together next Saturday but that next game worries me. GT looks better and has a passing QB..

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