The Virginia Tech Hokies (2-0) will travel to Greenville, N.C. for their annual matchup with the East Carolina Pirates (0-2) in Week 3.
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Virginia Tech-East Carolina game time, information
Date: Saturday, Sept. 16
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff
Location: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, North Carolina
Weather: mostly sunny, high 85 degrees
Network: CBS Sports Network
The line: Virginia Tech -23
Virginia Tech-East Carolina preview
After shining in the Hokies’ season-opener against West Virginia, Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson didn’t look nearly as sharp in a Week 2 matchup against FCS opponent Delaware. Yes, the Hokies won 27-0, but Jackson and the rest of the Hokies offense mustered just 303 total yards and two offensive touchdowns.
Normally, that would not bode well for a redshirt freshman signal caller heading into his first true road game of the season. But a matchup with East Carolina’s defense may be exactly what Jackson and the Hokies need to get back on track offensively.
East Carolina has lost 11 of its last 12 games dating back to last season. To open this year, the Pirates lost 34-14 to FCS foe James Madison. Last week, the West Virginia team that the Hokies beat in Week 1 clobbered the Pirates, 56-20.
Through the first two weeks of the season, East Carolina ranks second-to-last out of the 128 FBS teams in the country in total yards allowed. Opponents of the Pirates are averaging 614 yards per game. That prompted East Carolina coach Scottie Montgomery to fire defensive coordinator Kenwick Thompson. Montgomery will hope former defensive line coach Robert Prunty can coax better results out of the Pirate defenders.
On the other side of the ball, East Carolina’s quarterback situation is up in the air. Gardner Minshew started the season-opener for the Pirates, but he was benched in favor of Thomas Sirk, a graduate transfer from Duke. Sirk started last week’s game against West Virginia but was knocked out of the game with concussion-like symptons. As of Thursday morning, Sirk had not yet been cleared to play against the Hokies.
Virginia Tech’s defense, which dominated last week, giving up just 223 total yards and scoring a touchdown against Delaware, will have to prepare for both Minshew and Sirk without starting middle linebacker Tavante Beckett. Beckett was charged with felony marijuana possession with conspiracy to sell/distribute on Monday. He has been suspended indefinitely by the Hokies. Linebacker Sean Huelskamp is expected to take over the mike role in Beckett’s absence.
The Hokies and Pirates have faced off in nine of the past 10 seasons, and while Virginia Tech has won six of those nine games, Eastern Carolina has proven a worthy opponent most years. Five of those nine games were decided by one score or fewer, and Eastern Carolina pulled off upset wins in both 2014 and 2015.
Last year, however, Virginia Tech won in a 54-17 rout. Early returns this season project a similarly lopsided final score.