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Preview: Virginia Tech vs. ECU

By Debbie Ballard
September 17, 2010

The Virginia Tech Hokies should never again underestimate an opponent after the heartbreaking loss they suffered to James Madison University on Saturday. 

The Hokies entered Saturday's game unbeaten by James Madison in six games before falling to the FCS Dukes 21-16. 

This second consecutive defeat, possibly more painful than the one to the Boise State Broncos the previous week, precedes yet another important game for Virginia Tech, who welcomes the East Carolina University Pirates this coming Saturday.

The Pirates, who ran away with their last game against University of Memphis by a final score of 49-27, will definitely look to quarterback Dominique Davis to set the pace for the offense. 

The redshirt-junior threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns against Memphis, which is more than the combination of Tyrod Taylor's passing and rushing yards against JMU.

Equally as impressive, and just as worrisome to the Hokie defense, was the Pirates' 51-49 win over the University of Tulsa on Sept. 5.

Davis threw for 383 yards and five touchdown passes, including a last-minute Hail Mary touchdown pass to wide receiver Justin Jones to secure the win for the Pirates.

The quarterback has evolved well beyond the player who faced Virginia Tech as a true sophomore in the 2008 ACC Championship game.

During that game Davis, while passing for 263 yards, was sacked five times, intercepted twice, and only threw a single touchdown pass.

The Hokies went on to win the game 30-12, and Davis transferred out of Boston College at the end of the year. 

Now the Pirates' signal-caller, Davis' days at Boston College seem to be well behind him.

ECU, even without Davis at the helm, has a history of matching pace with Virginia Tech throughout the match.

Needless to say, Virginia Tech has its work cut out for it this coming weekend.

Taylor accumulated 124 passing yards and 86 rushing yards during the game against JMU, and threw one touchdown to Jarrett Boykin. 

Despite registering two sacks against JMU quarterback Drew Dudzik, the defense could not stop Dudzik from running in two touchdowns himself. 

The Hokies will need to intensify their defensive responsiveness and execution of plays to stop Davis where they could not stop Dudzik.

In terms of offense, tailback Ryan Williams put up formidable numbers during the defeat to JMU, racking up 91 yards with an average of 4.6 yards per carry. 

Darren Evans, the other piece of a very hyped-up dual running back system during the preseason, only logged 27 yards, with an average of 3.9 yards per carry.

What is keeping such notoriously explosive tailbacks from unleashing their true form on the field? 

Whatever it is, the issue needs to be examined and fixed before the Pirates arrive in Blacksburg or the Hokies will have a very tough time defeating Davis and the rest of his team.

Virginia Tech leads the series against ECU 10-5, but Frank Beamer and the rest of the team know they can't rely on history when going into a game- not again, at least.

Virginia Tech takes on ECU at Lane Stadium this Saturday. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m.