Virginia Tech at East Carolina 11-5-09

November 5, 2009

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(22) Virginia Tech (5-3) at East Carolina (5-3)

Thursday, November 5th, 7:30 p.m. (et)

GAME NOTES: The 22nd-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies will attempt to avoid their first three-game losing skid since the 2003 season when they battle the East Carolina Pirates in non-conference action.

For the second consecutive week, Virginia Tech is playing on Thursday. Last time out, the Hokies were shocked on their home field by North Carolina by a 20-17 final. They dropped a five-point decision to Georgia Tech in the previous outing, and an ACC title seems only a remote possibility at this point for the Hokies.

“I don’t think we got into rhythm today as a football team,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said after the loss to North Carolina. “We had field position in the first half and we didn’t get any points. We fumbled, we didn’t get a block and we had some tough penalties at the end. The game just didn’t fit.”

East Carolina is 5-3 overall, including 4-1 in Conference USA action, and can earn bowl eligibility with a victory on Thursday. The most recent outing for the Pirates took place on October 27th against Memphis and resulted in a 38-19 triumph. Four of the last five games have ended in victory, and a triumph over Virginia Tech would be tremendously impressive.

“Leading up to the game with all the excitement you get pretty pumped up, until you watch the film and remember that we’re actually going to have to play this football game,” said ECU coach Skip Holtz about Thursday’s matchup. They (Virginia Tech Hokies) are a very talented football team. I have great respect for Frank Beamer and the job he has done building this program.”

Virginia Tech owns a 9-5 advantage in the all-time series versus East Carolina, but the Pirates did win last season’s matchup by a 22-7 final.

The fact that Virginia Tech has committed just 10 turnovers in eight games, leading to only 12 points for opponents, is highly impressive. The Hokies are averaging 30.6 ppg this season and are gaining 364.5 total ypg. They have scored 27 offensive touchdowns, 17 of which have come via the ground attack. Freshman Ryan Williams has been tremendous, as he has rushed for 930 yards and 10 touchdowns while posting 5.7 yards per carry. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor has rushed for three scores, and he has completed 56 percent of his passes for 1,315 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions. Jarrett Boykin has made 24 catches for 416 yards and three scores.

Virginia Tech is yielding 19.3 ppg to its opponents, as well as 316.8 total ypg. The Hokies have been fairly solid against the run, and even better against the pass, holding opposing quarterbacks below a 50 percent completion rating with more interceptions than touchdown passes allowed. Barquell Rivers paces the squad with 71 total tackles, and Rashad Carmichael has recorded four interceptions.

As great as Williams has been this season, the rookie tailback lost a costly fumble late in last week’s loss to North Carolina that enabled the Heels to kick the game-winning field goal. Williams ran for 96 yards on 23 carried in that tilt, while Taylor posted negative rushing yardage while completing only 11-of-23 passes with an interception.

“There probably isn’t anything you can do to lift me up right now,” Williams said after the game when asked about the lost fumble, which was his first on a rushing play this season. “Personally, I feel like I took the game away today. The game was on the line, and I fumbled. But I’ve got to move on.”

Defensively, the Hokies permitted 312 total yards to UNC and came up with only one takeaways, stats that simply weren’t good enough to win the game.

East Carolina is scoring 26.8 ppg this season while gaining 350.8 total ypg, including 149.4 rushing ypg. Of the 25 touchdowns scored by the offense thus far, 17 have come on the ground. Dominique Lindsay leads a talented backfield with 570 yards and three scores, and three are five players on the roster with at least three rushing touchdowns. One of the five is starting quarterback Patrick Pinkney, who has also passed for 1,515 yards with eight touchdowns against nine interceptions.

ECU has been able to hold its opponents to 22.6 ppg and 357.8 total ypg. The Pirates have given up 21 touchdowns to opposing offenses, including 12 passing scores. They have been tough against the run, permitting 3.4 yards per attempt. Also impressive is the fact that they have recorded 21 takeaways. Nick Johnson paces the Pirates with 60 total tackles, and he has recorded 4.5 TFLs, two interceptions and a forced fumble.

In the victory over Memphis last time out, Pinkney had two rushing touchdowns and a passing score. Lindsay ran for 139 yards, while Ruffin added 87 yards and a touchdown. Darryl Freeney paced the receivers with 116 yard and a score on five catches.

“I thought Giavanni Ruffin and Dominique Lindsay ran hard, decisively and with an awful lot of confidence,” said coach Holtz of his tailbacks. “They really did a nice job.”

Memphis racked up 397 yards against East Carolina, but the Pirates only permitted two touchdowns to the Tiger offense. Four takeaways, including three fumble recoveries, certainly helped the cause.

Expect Williams to run like a madman this weekend, carving up the ECU defense for well over 100 yards and a couple of touchdowns. The Hokies will win by double figures.

 

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