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September 14, 2013

Staff Picks: VT at ECU

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It's on the road for Virginia Tech, which will get a test on both sides of the ball in East Carolina. Can the Hokies keep the momentum going from their week two win and get a much-needed win?

We take our shots at calling what will happen at today's Noon ET kickoff.

Jason Stamm, publisher

We've heard plenty about East Carolina's offense and how fast-paced and explosive it is. Yes, it is speedy and has playmakers, but I'm not as sold as many others seem to be or at least have built it up to be.

Old Dominion basically doesn't play defense, whom quarterback Shane Carden really boosted his stats against. This will by far be the Pirates first real 'test' of the season and I'm not so sure they'll pass it.

For all the shortcomings the Hokies have on offense, there's little to none on defense. This is easily top 10-15 defense in the country. Even the backups, like Woody Baron and Nigel Williams have answered the bell. It's tough to find many holes with this group.

Offensively, it's a different story. It was great seeing Willie Byrn and Kalvin Cline have their breakouts Saturday, but that was against a middling FCS team. If they can do it again today, then I'll be sold.

This one has traditionally been close between those two and I think that'll be the case again. And as I've predicted in the two other games (and right once), I think a touchdown will come from somewhere other than offense. And as good as the ECU offense is, the VT defense is better.

This one will be a game to the end, but the Hokies' defense is the difference and shouldn't allow a ton of yards, at least not like the Monarchs gave up in the season-opener to the Pirates.

PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 24-20

Doug Bowman, senior writer

I expect this game to be a ragged affair. The Hokies played at East Carolina in senior quarterback Logan Thomas' first road game in 2011 and won 17-10. I suspect this will be something similar.

The Pirate crowd always gets amped when the Hokies come to town and that will likely slow things down in the first half. Combine that with an early start and I think the first half is definitely one to forget.

However, I think VT's defense is going to make the difference in this one. The front four will likely be able to get enough pressure on Carden to force him into some errant throws, at which point the VT secondary will take advantage. Look for this one to be decided in favor of the Hokies in the fourth quarter.

PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 20-10

Mike Stancik, staff writer

After two weeks of battles against teams at opposite ends of the college football spectrum, we still don't know too much about this Virginia Tech team. Against a team that's closer to the Hokies' level, we'll find some answers in regard to the passing game both offensively and defensively.

East Carolina's 21st-ranked air attack is likely to get its fair share of yards, but it will be surprising if the Pirates are able to establish sustained drives on a consistent basis. East Carolina's best bet is to score on a couple of long touchdown plays, but that will be awfully hard against a secondary group that's great at tackling in open space. The Hokies run-game will be important in giving the defense a breather on the sidelines, and if Thomas plays to his capabilities, this game shouldn't come down to the final minutes.

This is the type of game I could see Kendall Fuller recording his first interception, and it wouldn't be surprising if Kalvin Cline found the end zone for the first time in his career. Virginia Tech's defense has allowed an average of 215 yards per game over the last five contests, and while East Carolina is likely to churn out a total above that, I don't see another scoring outburst from red-hot Carden and the Pirates. Trey Edmunds rushes for over 100 yards and notches a touchdown for the third straight game, and the Hokies leave Greenville with a two-score victory.

PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 27-17

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