Virginia Tech vs. East Carolina Matchup Is Pivotal for 11th Ranked Hokies

Justin CocchiolaCorrespondent ISeptember 8, 2011

MIAMI - NOVEMBER 20:  David Wilson #4 of the Virginia Tech Hokies runs for a first down during a game against the Miami Hurricanes at Sun Life Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

If you look at this matchup on paper, you may look away. But take a closer look, and you would realize that East Carolina is not a pushover. Led by former Boston College quarterback Dominique Davis, ECU is an offense that can score points in bunches.

East Carolina and Virginia Tech signed a deal ensuring that they would play each other for 10 straight seasons starting in 2007. Skip Holtz, who was head coach of the Pirates at the time, said he felt like crying when he found out the news.

However, ECU beat Virginia Tech in 2008 at a neutral site in Charlotte, North Carolina. Since 2007, the Hokies are 3-1 against ECU and 11-5 all time. Last year, the Hokies won 49-27 on the back of Tyrod Taylor.

This year, the Hokies are breaking in their new quarterback Logan Thomas. Thomas was recruited as a tight end (by the way, he was the best tight end prospect in the country), but they decided to move him to quarterback full time. Thomas was not in favor of the move and contemplated leaving, because he wanted to play right away.

After a redshirt year in 2009 and limited backup duty in 2010, the team is finally Thomas' to run. Thomas is surrounded by a plethora of playmakers, which is a big advantage for a young quarterback. However, in his first start against Appalachian State, Thomas showed signs of a raw product.

He missed some easy checkdowns to David Wilson and Marcus Davis, seemed to focus in on only one target at times and forced some throws into coverage. Even the play of the game, Dyrell Roberts' catch over the back of an Appalachian State defender occurred because of a poor throw.

But that was his first career start. There's no doubt he was probably a little nervous running out of the tunnel on to Worsham Field in front of a sell out crowd in Lane Stadium for the first time; he is human. So now that the first-game jitters are out of the way, Thomas needs to take the next step.

East Carolina does not have a formidable defense. The offense can score, but the defense gets scored on. The Hokies defense looks like it may be returning to old form. Overall, there are a lot of young players in starting roles, but the speed of the defense is elite.

The Hopkins brothers on the defensive line plug the middle, Barquell Rivers and Bruce Taylor hold down two of the linebacker positions and the corners are covered by All-American Jayron Hosley and true sophomore Kyle Fuller.

East Carolina may score some points, but they're not going to score many. Thomas needs to let the game come to him. Instead of forcing balls into coverage, he needs to learn to check the ball down to his receivers out of the slot or to his runners out of the backfield.

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 03:  Dominique Davis #4 of the East Carolina Pirates against the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 3, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Mike O'Cain will call a conservative game, which you would expect when you have a quarterback starting only his second game. And the greatest weapon that Thomas has in his backfield. David Wilson, may be the fastest player in the country.

If you haven't seen Wilson on the field, he's that blur running across your screen that comes into focus when he steps in the end zone. Wilson will make one cut in the backfield, five yards away from the nearest defender and be three steps past that same defender before he can even adjust to the cut.

The more times Wilson gets the ball, the better off the Hokies are going to be. If Thomas includes Wilson in the passing game it will open up the plays down the field.

The Hokies need to be careful with ECU, but they should have no problems beating them. This is their only "real" test before playing Clemson on October 1st.

Look for the Hokies to run the ball about 65 percent of the time on Saturday. If they're successful, they will run away with this one.

Virginia Tech 45, ECU 17