Jared Fialko

Misfires sink Pirates ship against Tech

Posted September 14, 2013
Updated September 15, 2013

It was there for the taking, and the Pirates knew it.  East Carolina had several chances to knock off Virginia Tech in Greenville for the first in a generation, they just couldn't drive the stake through the Hokies' heart.  In what had the potential to be a signature win for head coach Ruffin McNeill and a chance to vault into the AP or USA Today Top 25, ECU came up short in a game that was very "un-ECU-like."

Two weeks after surrendering nearly 500 yards of offense against Old Dominion, the Pirates cracked the whip on defense, containing one of the ACC's top gunslingers in Logan Thomas.  Running back Trey Edmunds was a non-factor, averaging only two yards per carry after toting the rock 21 times. 

However, the offense was equally as night-and-day as their first two efforts.  Shane Carden threw for 638 yards and seven scores against ODU and FAU, but struggled after a promising start.  In an aggressive move, ECU won the coin toss, elected to receive, and marched straight down the field, capping a five-play, 75 yard drive with a Carden-to-Bryce Williams touchdown toss.  It took only 99 seconds and looked effortless.  However, it was far from a harbinger of what the rest of the afternoon had in store. Receivers struggled against Tech's secondary to create much space downfield and as a result, Carden completed only three passes of 10 yards or longer following that opening possession. Justin Hardy had six receptions, but finished with only 31 yards receiving to his name. For a program in which "passing is not a hobby, it's a way of life," those numbers make for difficult living.  Toss in three turnovers and a safety into the mix, and that equals one cocktail no team would want to chug.

Still, East Carolina found itself with plenty of chances late in the ballgame thanks to a less-than-memorable day from Virginia Tech's Cody Journell.  Kickers never get much love to begin with, but Hopkins won't exactly be strutting around the student center in Blacksburg come Monday.  Journell shanks an extra point, two field goal tries, and a third that was negated by a running into the kicker penalty. By that point, Frank Beamer had seen enough to hedge his bets on converting a fourth-and-1 then attempt a 27-yarder.  If you listened closely, you could practically hear the Peyton Manning impressions from a state away:

Following the contest, the Pirates all seemed to think their good special teams fortunes were serendipitous.  No one had any doubt that they could knock off an ACC team in their house, time just ran out.  They may have had a few more minutes in the fourth quarter to make that happen, if not for possibly the only shortcoming on an otherwise stellar defensive day. Thomas extended two late game drives, taking costly ticks off the clock with four third down and one fourth down conversion.  As Teddy KBG might say, "those kids have alligator blood."

Disappointing in a sense that ECU wasn't just playing to "hang around" with an ACC team, but encouraging for coach McNeill that despite down some stalwarts due to injury, the defense passed an early season exam with flying colors. The Pirates will not face a quarterback the quality of Logan Thomas in their entire conference slate, with the possible exception of Marshall's Rakeem Cato, who is part of a juggernaut Thundering Herd offense that will live and die by the shootout.  Hardy, Carden and company will get back on track and if the defense can steadily apply pressure like they did on Saturday afternoon, there's no reason to believe that ECU shouldn't be able to contend for a league crown in its final year in the C-USA.

Currently listening to: Twenty One Pilots - "Holding on to You"


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  • wolfbitesyourheels Sep 15, 2013

    That should read ban the ARRGH. The edit button is not working.

    Boy am I out of posting shape :-)

  • wolfbitesyourheels Sep 15, 2013

    The Hokie defense has looked very good. Foster made some really good adjustments early in this game. Maybe the Pirates missed some opportunities but sometimes you have to give your opponent credit for forcing those mistakes. Congrats to The Hokies.

    I have two sons that have graduated from ECU. I enjoyed watching this game. ECU has made tremendous improvements in recruiting and in their defensive play on the field.

    I still don't understand Conference USA's decision to band "THE ARRGH"!!!

  • StunGunn Sep 15, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Totally agree, johnny. Banter is fun, but to be mean spirited just for the sake of being mean doesn't add anything to these boards. I'd much rather see exchanges like yours where you can have an honest, adult conversation with another fan, even if that fan is on an opposing team.

  • johnnyaudit Sep 15, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Not everyone on a message board has to be nasty. Just those with smart comments. Fans of different teams can have respect for each other.

  • hsiflee Sep 15, 2013

    View quoted thread

    ...when is the wedding?

  • VT1994Hokie Sep 15, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Yes. Bud Foster has been the glue for this program for many years. Our fans follow the Hokies.

  • VT1994Hokie Sep 15, 2013

    ^^^ ECU's defense has improved leaps and bounds this season. Great recruiting and coaching.

  • tcoutouzis Sep 15, 2013

    VT's Defense is no doubt one of the Top 10 or 15 in the nation. They are going to win a lot of games for VT this year. This will be the best defense we will see all year. It was good that our offense got hampered by them, so that we can see where adjustments need to be made.

    I think people are missing the marked improvement of our defense this year. We were giving up an average of 500 yards or more a game against mediocre to good offenses. Last year, below average QB's looked like Heisman candidates on our defense. Rick Smith has done a heck of job only giving up 311 total yards to VT. Also, Didn't the VT running back Edmunds have over 200 yards rushing against Alabama? We held him to 42 yards. Rick Smith has done a heck of a job turning our pitiful defense around.

  • johnnyaudit Sep 15, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Was there and rarely saw any receiver open, especially in the second half. VaTech secondary did a great job in man to man and really made it easy for them to run selective blitzes. Hats off to Bud Foster who kept Alabama's offense to 205 yards and 2 offensive TD's.

  • ultimatefan6995 Sep 15, 2013

    Uh, I don't know what game someone saw but ECU wideouts were open often throughout the game. The QB & OC were too busy forcing the ball to Hardy, and Fr.Grayson, and it killed the game. Offense has too much talent across the board to struggle like it did yesterday when the game was there for the taking. Def showed up. Did a great job. Don't know who (coaching wise) was in the skybox watching but adjustments for Pirates weren't made (VaTech made & was expected) and that was to eat VaTech up with plays in the middle of field as VaTech did to ECU w/80 & 82. ECU staff lost the game. Instead of pumping up 2-3 players(No offense Hardy/Carden)coaches need to realize this is a "TEAM" sport. Guys played their hearts out.




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