2009 Keys to the Game and Matchups to Watch: East Carolina

The Hokies travel to Greenville, NC to face the Pirates of East Carolina tonight in a critical game for both teams. Virginia Tech needs to turn around the two-game losing skid and regain the momentum lost in a once promising season, while ECU needs a big win over a major BCS team to increase its national presence. The Hokies, of course, will also have revenge in mind for last year’s opening day loss. So what are the keys in this important Thursday night match-up?

Schematically, Virginia Tech and East Carolina are fairly similar, with both teams relying on physical, hard-nosed, power football. Both teams use multiple formations offensively, but rely first and foremost on the power running game. Defensively, each team runs a 4-3 set with an emphasis on stopping the run. Ultimately, this game comes down to the team that is the most physical and can control the line-of-scrimmage.

In an earlier game this year, East Carolina held their own against North Carolina in the trenches, and we saw the trouble that the Tar Heels gave the Hokies last week. In the other two ECU games that I have seen, the Pirates controlled the line, for the most part, against Marshall and Memphis. Few teams will out-muscle East Carolina, but the Pirates can have trouble with speed.

Keys to the Game