2008 Keys to the Game, Matchups to Watch and Game Prediction: East Carolina

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Football season has finally arrived, and Virginia Tech will have a stern test
from a veteran East Carolina team that looks to be Skip Holtz’s best squad.
While the Pirates have considerable experience with 16 returning starters and 34
players who have started at least one game, the Hokies only return 10 starters
and 19 players who have started a game. Lots of new faces in Blacksburg, but a
very strong preseason gives Hokie fans a reason for optimism. But how will the
Hokies match up with the Pirates?

An inordinate number of similarities exist between the two teams, from the
dual quarterback competition in the summer to a strong nucleus of offensive
linemen. Both teams have questions at running back and receiver, and each squad
has a converted quarterback who is a rising star at tight end. Defensively, both
teams focus on strong fronts that are designed to stop the run with aggressive
play-making linebackers. The good news for a young Hokie squad is that ECU is
fairly similar to Virginia Tech in its schemes and style of play, so the players
won’t need to make as many adjustments.

Keys to the Game

When Virginia Tech has the Ball:

1. Be Aggressive Passing Downfield

Frank Beamer’s statement on the Hokie Hotline that Tech must “attack East
Carolina to be successful” has caused much disbelief in the Hokie Nation
(including our own Will Stewart), but looking at the Pirates personnel certainly
would lead me to the same conclusion. ECU gave up numerous big plays in the
passing game last year and the same talent returns, minus their best coverage

In particular, look for the Hokies to use the tight end downfield in this
game. Last year Sam Wheeler had seven receptions for 81 yards against the
Pirates, and I anticipate double digit catches for Tech’s tight ends in this
game (that “thud” you just heard was Will’s jaw dropping again). Look for
Greg Boone