#13 R.P.I. Virginia Tech @ #155 R.P.I. East Carolina:
Virginia Tech football takes to the out-of-conference road to take on the Pirates of East Carolina University 311 miles down south in Greenville Nc., for a Saturday at 3:30pm on CBS Sports Network.
The Hokies opened as a 21 point favorite out on the Vegas big board and that number and that action has only risen as Virginia Tech currently resides right at a -24 point betting fave. However, is E.c.u. really that bad? Is the retooled Hokie offense capable of covering such a sizey number after so many mishits and misQ’s vs. little ole D-1aa Delaware? Or is E.c.u. due to actually play a good, solid, quality football and and possibly pirate this hosting upset? As there are plenty of story-lines and mytharcs for both schools here; and regrettably, not all of them are on-field. Though who will ultimately win and by how much? Read on to find, out…
Today’s word of the day is… planchment
- A boarded ceiling.
- That thing up above the early 2017 Fu’fense’s head; (…or not)?
East Carolina Head Coach: Scottie Montgomery: age=39, (o-2 year; 3-11 overall); $1,200,000.oo; has a rep’ for offense and for the passing game in particular.
Scottie the baller was all-everything in high school. He won a State (Lawndale, North Carolina) AAA title in football, was all-state in 200m and 400m T&F and was all-conference in hoops. After high school Scottie inked with Duke, and only finished his career with 171 receptions (second in Duke’s history) great for 2,379 yards (third), four 100-yard receiving games (seventh), and 13 TD’s (eighth). He earned the team’s M.V.P. award in 1998 and 1999. Then Scottie the baller took his show to the big show. Lining up at 6’1”, 195 lbs. as he balled for Carolina, Oakland, Denver before finishing up a six year Pro’ career in the Arena League. Scottie left the N.F.L. with 16 career grabs, 160 yards and six points scored; (or way more than you or I).
As Coach Montgomery; Scottie began his whistle career at his alma mater down at Duke University, where he served as the wide receivers coach for four seasons (2006–2009). Montgomery was then hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers as their new wide receivers coach. He remained with the Steeler organization for three seasons. Montgomery returned to Duke as associate head coach and offensive coordinator/passing game while coaching the wide receivers, in 2013. Duke then promoted him to offensive coordinator in 2014. Last year Montgomery was hired by East Carolina.
Away from the field, Montgomery is an oft-requested motivational speaker who most recently was invited to serve as a panelist during the Knight Commission’s May 1, 2017 meeting at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. He participated in a discussion which assessed leadership diversity in Division I athletics, particularly in the sport of football. Monty holds an anthropology degree from Duke and is married with three sons: Cassius (7), Moses (4) and Magnus (2).
E.c.u. 2016 record: 3 up 9 down and 1-7 in the American Athletic.
Pirate Defense: (starters back=6)
- 4-2-5 base set.
- E.c.u. does field stop-unit experience no thanks to a very insalubrious 2016.
- 128th in Total D!!!
- 124th in throw D.
- 112th in run D.
- 99th in 3rd down conversion D allowed.
- 128th in Team Passing Efficiency D allowed!
- 107th in TFL (tackles for a loss).
- 92nd in Qb’s sacked.
- dLine Havoc=73rd. Dt’s are okay, not great, not bad, just a very lowercase okay. De’s are, well, they and one Linebacker in the E.c.u. linebacking twins are, “s, m, all”. Same as Dean Martin used to call Sammy Davis Jr. on-stage. Soph, De Kendall Futrell at 6’2”, 230 lbs. is said to be a talented burst type player.
- Linebacking Havoc=120th. Lb Jordan Williams, Sr. was the team’s leading tackler last year, and the 6′, 234 lb. OLb former walk-on is a workout warrior with great toughness and good quickness. He’s legit as a second-layer player goes.
- Secondary Havoc=71st. The Pirate Secondary has experience and talent; just ask both Cb spots and Ss as there are three all-conference possibilities here.
- If you are keeping score at home… checking in at 616 ypg allowed is a Pirate problem; or an opponent’s opportunity; as 128th is the penultimate defensive ranking in any D-1 category with 129 D-1 qualified men’s football teams this year.
- Kinda a wild-n-woolly approach to D with some very variable depth toggles in the hind-7. As the two E.c.u. Lb’s and secondary line-up all over the place. Does seem to be a bit more tight man on edge (almost Oakland Raider 80’s esque), with a deep deep Fs playing centerfielder behind all of that. All kinds of rolling zones, hook-zones, or just congestion in coverage. As this D is very reliant on their front-4 doing work and freeing up their hind-7 to roam clean and make plays. Will toggle into an even forty-three look with the third safety cheating up. Though the Pirate Lb’s remain really deep; as it can be really hard to reach block guys in space like this at 6 yards off the line-of-scrimmage. They also over-play to the wide-side leaving the backside rather inviting. Nevertheless, for all the oddball quirkiness that is fun to watch/study on tape defense is; the Pirates lack a high enough freeboard -or front-4- to keep their main defensive deck from being offensively awash. Definitely a team I’d run straight at as J.m.u. did, Peoples and whomever else wants hard internal thudding carries enter… here!
Pirate Offense: (returning starters=6)
- 65th in Total O.
- 105th in rushing O.
- 20th in passing O.
- 116th in Team Passing Efficiency!
- 122nd in Turnover Margin!
- 122nd in Red Zone O.
- 22nd in TFL allowed.
- 9th best in Qb sacks allowed.
- 74% solo tackled. (not real hard to stop)
- Duke grad-Sr. transfer dual-threat Qb Thomas Sirk, Sr. and Jr. pocket Qb Gardner Minshew, are supposed to be something of a strength. Though Sirk (God help) brought his former blowout Achilles tendon along with him and is not as explosive as he once was; and now he’s (probable) with a concussion. Combined these two are: 51% on the year, good for a 2:5 passing ratio to the ‘rong and 41 yards rushing; all Sirk. You do the Pivotal maths…
- This may not be an epic oLine, although it’s pretty dang tight in keeping peeps outta the Pirate backfield. It’s also one other thing, it’s really really big on the left-side; ~662 odd lbs. of beef over to the odd side says so. C/left-G swing baller Garrett McGhin, Jr. is said to be the bell-cow here; he starts for the Vice-squad; prolly at either internal spot. Did see me some raw straight ahead man mänō-a-mänō blocking looks here. E.c.u. will try to muscle you at the point of attack.
- The E.c.u. Rb slot is entirely Rb via trinary committee; with three different guys fielding 14, 13 and 12 total carries apiece. Don’t see a star here, not even an asteroid; as I do see three guys who have never rushed for more than 151 total yard in any of their nine collective seasons’. There is a little size/stockiness here and honestly… there is not much else.
- Senior wideouts Jimmy Williams Quay Johnson are the apex of an otherwise underwhelming offensive unit. Nevertheless, 3 of the Top-5 Pirate receivers have a catch rate of 55% or less; and well, there you go. Though do keep an eye on Trevon Brown; a real electrifying HR hitting burner. And there are multi hundred returning career catches in the Top-4 here; so maybe they are due to breakout? As E.c.u. will flood five-wide with doubles and trips in passing downs. Lotta jump-ball go make a play verticals as well.
- Saw a lot of the newfangled offset Pistol whereby a traditional looking Fb/H-back and a true Tb line up behind a G, and the pistol medium shotgun deep Qb lines up behind the C.
- Overall this E.c.u. offense seems like it wants to do/be better. It has two very experienced Qb’s -one pocket and one multiple-, it has a big ass oLine that seems to look like it at least could impose its will; and it has four deep at the Wideout spot thanks to two returning 2015 injuries. Now Rb was rather underwhelming; nearly very; so maybe that’s putting a crimp in this Pirate mast? Or maybe this is just an extremely juxtaposed mixed-bag offensive unit? Though still, one of the things I did not see here was continuity, almost a play-calling/formation potluck scavenger hunt. As E.c.u. really offers multiple sets and yet none of them seem to be used often enough to develop any true fluidity. Interesting to a point; although ultimately too heterogeneous in the end.
- 37% run:pass 63% mix.
E.c.u. Special Teams: (0 return)
5’10”, kinda muscular 218 lb., grad-Sr., Austin Barnes -no L.a. Dodger relation- is 54th in Net Punting and that’s slightly above average. And yet that’s about as good as the E.c.u. not so special-teams get. Austin is an Eastern Michigan transfer now hitting up his second degree in communications; great on him! Austin the punter has plenty of experience… as he has logged 36 career games, knocking 18o punts for 7,663 total yards (42.6 average). Austin has landed 60 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line to go along with 13 touchbacks and 52 fair catches. He has booted 37 balls for 50 or more yards without a career block! Not half bad as legwork goes. As this kid is likely a Ray Guy semi-finalist, again, this year. As a philanthropist Austin stared a fundraising drive called ‘Kickin’ it for Cans’, which donated 10 cans of food to the local pantry for every kick made … In total, more than 3,700 canned goods have been donated already. Austin does relief mission work in the off-season and he works out with the wresting team in the off-season as well. God Bless Austin, an easy guy to root for here.
- 76th in Punt Returns and 105th in KO returns.
- 1o2nd in Punt coverage and 110th in KO suicide squad action.
- E.c.u. has allowed and inflicted no punt or kick blocks alike thus far.
Jake Verity is a 6’1”, 170 lb. t-Fresh rookie year string-bean Kicker who will be carded well into his 40’s. Thus far, Jake is 4 for 4 on P.A.T.’s and yet 50% on FGA’s with a long of 45 yards to the good. Jake had a high school long of 63 yards on the make down in and around the ATL (Atlanta, Ga.) area. This is officially the 11th longest high school FGA make in the history of history itself. I’d say that counts as leg strength goes, and Jake captured the “Last Man (PK) Standing” and “Punting Champion” honors during the 2014 Jackson kicking camp. (Basically how many can you and everyone else make in a row). So he has some clutch to this game to boot. Curiously, Jake did not elect to play college ball until late last spring as a rather tardy recruiting signee. Jake scored high in his scholastic.edu rankings and was a soccer star as well. So even on limited collegiate evidence, E.c.u. appears to have a keeper kicker here.
Special Teams letter-grade: the kick game is not bad, it in fact has talent’s, plural; although the return and coverage teams drag this grade down a bit… a C– at the moment that will likely only see place-kicking improve.
- VT D.
- VT O.
- E.c.u. O. 3a. E.c.u. D.
- motive: Does firing the old D-coordinator fire this leaky Pirate ship up any? Or could that even make things worse? E.c.u. ain’t a rival although E.c.u. used to want to rival A.c.c. Virginia Tech; and if nothing else this is a home-port contest for E.c.u. Edge=E.c.u.
- weather: looks high scoring to me. Edge=push.
- health: God Bless, slight advantage to the Hokies here, though not truly whopping as the 4o77th goes. Edge=VT.
- penalties: whopping, football field sized advantage to VT here as E.c.u. is 1o7th best penalty yards. Edge=VT.
- intangibles: don’t wanna hit this too hard; though I don’t wanna ignore it, either, as I have an old friend below my eyes and above my mouth. Call it what you will— as something just does not pass the sinff-test in purple-n-gold terms. As this team looks like it is either playing for a lame-duck or has already let go the top-sail itself. Edge≠E.c.u.
- fatigue: Hopefully this does not make much never mind at the moment; although the Pirates are +1 on rest in the last fortnight and will sleep in their own beds. Edge=E.c.u.
Illation, conclusion(s) and OPT digits:
Number of Pirates who could start @Tech=6.
The takeaway here is… East Carolina has been out-scored 56-3 in the first half so far as these Pirates start digging when they hit rock bottom.
Though we have plenty to work on ourselves, for example… four of our top-5 pass catchers have a 67% catch-rate or worse. Our newly wrought pitch-n-catch battery can use plenty of reps; our right-side oLine can use some more looks, coach Wiles’ 2’s can use anything they can get, etc., etc., etc.
And yet this football game has everything to do with pegging Virginia Tech.
And (hopefully) not much to do with sounding a foundering Pirate ship.
I.e. I gots our 2017 Virginia Tech football floor figure out… its injuries. Dt and Cam in order, probably the Qb spot as well as any JAX hurting would introduce a wildcard hi/lo element to the Pivot spot.
And yet here is my 12 day post w.v.u. hang-up… where exactly is this team’s offensive planchment? As I know the top-11 on D are sparky enough; and the O&M special teams are just a Joey hot-streak removed from being hot like the Sun.
However; what can this O do or improve and eventually do really really well? Or is this a C+++ talent ceiling O with a flexible A+++ coaching canopy or what amounts to an eventual hard cap?
I don’t know yet… and I prolly won’t objectively know until we get into the month of October either… as these next to winnable scrums and a stop-unit bear pit like the Clemson Tigers won’t be great teachers in either direction.
Or at least they will not provide the most objective results with all three games being outliers at opposite ends of the defensing spectrum.
- Δ1= ~50% chance Virginia Tech really pops this one. Back to normal rest and normal prep’, those three Delaware HR throws get caught; T.Mac’ has one of his two or three 100 yard rushing days. As any of this could happen at any time vs. a user-friendly team.
- Δ2= ~50% chance we see more of the Delaware same. Improvements are baby-steps for such a juvenile pitch-n-catch battery; or incremental at best. And maybe the Fu’fense does wanna keep a few show-cards hidden up its Clemson sleeve?
- Δ3=1 or 2% chance that E.c.u. somehow catches fire at home; and/or this retooled Corny O suddenly wets the Hokie turnover bed. I suppose that’s not entirely umpossible; technically speaking; and a bad turnover day could and possibly will happen before November arrives.
is that this annual E.c.u. football team -and apparently the program overall itself- is so far down right now as to need some Hokie help to win. Even at home where E.c.u. used to get sky-high like the International Space Station to host Atlantic Coast regional Virginia Tech; and that is very much a departure from the Greenville historical, norm.
well, you gotta pick Virginia Tech to win here and this just in… rain is still rumored to be wet. The only calculus to apply is: Virginia Tech wins by how much?
If you ask me -and you did by reading these very words- if you ask me I’ll ask you a question in response… who would win if Delaware visited East Carolina?
If you say Delaware go ahead and pick an improving Virginia Tech to win and smartly. If you say E.c.u. go ahead and pick a concealing Virginia Tech to continue to be a very vanilla, middle of the isle. centrist red+blue=purple kinda football team.
And that particular color seems appropirate, enough.
Virginia Tech=33, East Carolina=13