It was a nail-biter that could have easily been a blow out. Regardless, Virginia Tech improved to 2-1 after their 15-10 victory over East Carolina Saturday.
Lunch Pail D
The level of execution from Bud Foster’s defense is getting slightly ridiculous.
Dating back five games to the final regular season game of last year — a 17-14 win over Virginia — the Hokies have not allowed more than 217 total yards in a game. This season they’ve given up an average of 190.7 yards a game, second best in the nation behind Michigan State (177). The Hokies and the Spartans are the only Division I schools averaging less than 200 yards this year.
On Saturday, the Pirates received the opening kickoff and marched right down the field, going 75 yards for a 7-0 lead in just 1:39. After the opening drive though, Foster’s defense buckled down.
In the remaining 58-plus minutes of play the Pirates managed just 129 yards of offense.
“I think guys just had to get adjusted,” said defensive end James Gayle, who was named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s defensive lineman of the week. “After (the touchdown), I was like, ‘That’s not going to continue to happen.’ I think adjustments were made and we had to get used to their tempo.”
The Hokies didn’t make any strategic adjustments after the opening drive — their game plan coming in was already sound. They just needed to improve on execution.
A number of missed tackles and a rare penalty by senior captain Jack Tyler aided the efficiency in which the Pirates’ offense drove down the field.
“I don’t think I could say it. I’d lose character points if I say it,” Gayle, said, referring to the “pep talk” Foster gave his bunch after that first possession. “He has every right to be angry because they (drove down the field and scored) in like three minutes. But we made adjustments and were able to shut them down the rest of the game.”
Part of shutting them down was intercepting ECU quarterback Shane Carden three times. Carden was one of the more efficient passers in the nation coming into the game, and hadn’t thrown a single pick in the team’s first two games.
Brandon Facyson accounted for two of the interceptions, the first coming in the first quarter after jumping a slant route.
“Coach (Torrian Gray) called me on the phone and was like, ‘If you see this, do this,’” Facyson said. “And I saw that the next drive and I ran inside of it and picked it.”
The very next play on defense, the true freshman tried jumping a curl route. He made the right read but was late, and the ECU receiver turned up field for a 21-yard pick up.
“Coach always tells us, ‘You got to play aggressive,’” Facyson said. “‘Play smart, though.’ I felt like I had a chance. I actually tipped the ball. My hand grazed the ball. He got it off, but next time I’m coming for it.”
The Hokies’ seven interceptions on the season are tied for second best in the nation.
As long as the defense keeps playing lights out, the offense can continue to work out its kinks without harm befalling the team. Needless to say, that’s a tremendous luxury to have.
“Defense played a great game, best defense in the nation, I think,” Facyson said. “We all think that.”