ECU came out fired up and got the drop on the Hokie defense, driving 75 yards in just five plays for an opening TD. A couple of possessions later, VT responded with an 11-play, 76-yard TD drive, capped by a 30-yard TD pass from Logan Thomas to Demitri Knowles (Knowles’ first TD catch since the GT opener last season).
The rest of the game hasn’t been what I would term a defensive struggle, but neither team has scored. ECU QB Shane Carden (12-18, 127 yards, 1 TD) has thrown one interception, to Brandon Facyson, and Logan Thomas has also thrown a pick, on (another) long ball to Demitri Knowles in which the defender beat Knowles to the ball for the pick. (I vote that the Hokies take that play out of the playbook.)
Thomas has also thrown a couple other passes that should have been intercepted. He was 4-of-4 for 57 yards and the TD on the touchdown drive, but other than that, is a miserable 4-of-13 for 40 yards (8-of-17 for 97 yards total).
Some thoughts and impressions:
No push from the VT offensive line: Trey Edmunds got off a 13-yard run late in the half, but he is only 9 carries for 20 yards overall. The rushing lanes just haven’t been there.
LT involved in the running game: Logan Thomas has run the ball several times on designed plays (3 carries, 17 yards).
Hokies D playing behind the line: VT has 7 TFL and 4 sacks and is playing aggressive football. ECU had only given up 5 sacks all year coming in. The Hokies have missed some tackles, and ECU QB Shane Carden, with (-8) rushing yards to his credit coming in, has gotten off runs of 14 and 24 yards to surprise the Hokies (and everyone else).
Hokies baiting Carden to throw longer: VT has been playing off the outside receivers and has brought linebackers on blitzes a few times, trying to bait Carden into throwing longer passes. Carden’s INT came on a play where was pressured, couldn’t set his feet, and threw a pass that Facyson jumped the route and picked off.
East Carolina has a good game plan, and they’re fired up enough to execute it. They’re stuffing the run and forcing Logan Thomas to beat them with his arm, and so far, LT has only been able to do that on one drive. Other than that, he’s struggling. Willie Byrn (4 catches, 32 yds) is helping him, but Knowles again was beaten on a deep ball for a pick, and Josh Stanford dropped a nicely thrown ball on 3rd down that ended a drive.
Defensively, the Hokies aren’t playing great (174 yards given up), but they have only given up 99 yards since ECU’s first possession, and they’re playing very hard and very aggressive. The defensive line, including Derrick Hopkins at tackle, is being disruptive.
VT’s best weapon continues to be punter A.J. Hughes: 4 punts, 46.8 yards, and one downed inside the ECU 10-yard line that was a thing of beauty.
To win, the Hokie D needs to keep doing what they’re doing, and the offense either needs to have Thomas get on a roll, get the running game going, or both. This one looks like it will be a nail biter to the end.
Virginia Tech Halftime Notes
courtesy Virginia Tech Athletics Communications
• Tech’s permanent captains for the year are Jack Tyler, Kyle Fuller, Andrew Miller and Logan Thomas.
• Tech is wearing maroon helmets, white jerseys and white pants today. The Hokies are 50-33-1 all-time under head coach Frank Beamer in this combo.
• Brent Benedict got his first career start at tackle after starting six games at guard last year. Chris Mangus made his first career start, coming as a second tailback.
• Kyle Fuller, Derrick Hopkins and Logan Thomas all made their 30th-consecutive start Saturday.
• With Tech’s first touchdown pass, the Hokies extended their scoring streak to 233 games, moving into a tie with Nebraska (74-91) for the 13th-longest in NCAA Division I history.
• True freshman Brandon Facyson recorded his second career interception in the first quarter. It was his second consecutive game with a pick (Western Carolina).
• Logan Thomas set a new Virginia Tech record for career completions in the first half with his 496th completion. With his eighth completion, he passed Tyrod Taylor (495; 2007-10) to take the record. He began the day fourth, but passed Bryan Randall (490; 2001-04) and Will Furrer (494; 1988-91) before finally passing Taylor.