Virginia Tech will get a good test defensively Saturday against a style of offense that traditionally has been tough for it to slow down.
The Pirates like to spread the field and have thrown it on 56 percent of their plays. Quarterback Shane Carden is completing nearly 80 percent of his passes for 638 yards and seven touchdowns, while receiver Justin Hardy had 16 catches for 191 yards in the opener against Old Dominion.
“They remind me a lot of the Patriots,” linebacker Jack Tyler said, referring to their style. “They use their short pass game as their run game. That’s kind of why you see them throwing the ball so much.
“They try to run a lot of plays. Kind of like what we’ve seen the last few nights with some of the NFL teams, they kind of just try to run down your defense, and run as many plays and they get you tired by the end of the game. ”
Tech should get used to it. The schedule ramps up quickly in the next month against teams that like to pass it quite a bit, first with East Carolina, then at home against Marshall and, after a completely different kind of test at Georgia Tech, back at home against another up-tempo team, North Carolina.
“It definitely is a measuring stuck for us because we know the next couple weeks here, we are going to be going against some of these up-tempo, kind of in-your-face style offenses,” Tyler said. “We’ve got to get prepared for them.”
Beamer said Tech might add an extra scout team to sub in during practice, trying to make things more like how ECU will play in the game.
“We keep it boom-boom-boom-boom-boom,” he said. “So it needs to be at a fast tempo.”
Tackling, Beamer said, is key against spread teams.
“If you’re not careful, a 5-yard gain turns into a 25-yard gain,” he said. “That’s what you can’t have happen. Just keep their completions to a minimum yardage and keep playing.”
Here are a few more press conference notes:
– Tyler, for one, thinks the Pirates will be up for this game. ECU plays Virginia Tech, North Carolina and N.C. State this year, although the other two are on the road.
“Quite frankly, this is probably their Super Bowl,” he said. “I mean, this is a big game for them. I’m sure they have Virginia Tech circled. This is one of their rivalry games. It’s going to be a good atmosphere.”
Beamer agreed about the atmosphere at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
“It’s going to be an exciting stadium,” Beamer said. “If [the players are] like me, they like that. The worst stadiums to me are the ones where no one cares. East Carolina people care that Virginia Tech is coming to town and they’ll be loud.”
Beamer was asked about how much he worries about the young players, this being the team’s first true road game.
“I’d call Atlanta a road game,” he said.
– The game serves as a family reunion of sorts for Tyler, whose dad Tim, was a defensive tackle for East Carolina.
“He actually hasn’t even been back to ECU in 40 years,” Jack said. “I think this is the first time he’s going back. I know he’s excited to see it again, but I know he’ll definitely be in maroon and orange completely.”
Tyler was unsure exactly how much Tim played back then, although he’s heard some stories.
“I think his one claim to fame was playing against Terry Bradshaw and trying to chase him around,” Jack said. “I think he said one of his games was on ESPN Classic one time and Terry Bradshaw tore ‘em up. He was just a D-tackle. I guess he was pretty good. He got drafted by the Chargers but back then they had like 30 rounds so I don’t even know if he truly got drafted by a team. I think he just quit after he fell into the 30th round.”
Tyler was offered a walk-on opportunity at East Carolina, “just like every other school,” he said.
– Saturday’s game will start at noon. Running back J.C. Coleman said sometimes early games are hard to get up for.
“It’s extremely tough to get up that early and be ready to play because that’s something you pretty much haven’t done since Pop Warner days when you had to play 10:30 games and stuff like that,” he said. “In high school, you always played 7 o’clock games. You didn’t play that early, so it’s definitely different.”
Coleman said the team’s wake-up call is usually about 7:30 a.m., but he’ll try to wake up a little earlier and shower, just to make sure he’s completely alert.
– Coleman confirmed that he tweaked his injured left ankle against Western Carolina, getting it rolled up on again.
“It’s nothing major,” he said. “I feel like I can bounce back from it and be ready for Saturday.”
– Left tackle Jonathan McLaughlin is a former East Carolina signee. He didn’t qualify and spent a year at Fork Union, eventually signing with Virginia Tech last January. Now he’s the starting left tackle.
“Once he really gets strong, he’s going to be one heck of an offensive lineman,” Beamer said. “Right now he has to battle, being a true freshman and not quite strong enough. But I think one of these days he’s going to be a really, really good player.”
– Beamer, like pretty much everyone in the athletic department, is pleased that the school came to a resolution about the site for the indoor practice facility.
“We had to give up a little bit of our practice fields, but that’s OK,” he said. “It was a little bit of give and take both ways, but that’s the way it needs to happen here at Virginia Tech, and what’s right for everyone. But having that facility right next to those practice fields is exactly where it belongs.”