Electric freshman quarterback Josh Jackson leads No. 16 Virginia Tech into East Carolina on Saturday eyeing a 3-0 start. Jackson, who helped the Hokies knock off West Virginia in his collegiate debut, threw a pair of scoring passes last week as Virginia Tech blanked FCS member Delaware 27-0.
The Hokies don’t figure to be challenged until they host No. 3 Clemson in what is shaping up to be a monstrous ACC game Sept. 30. Jackson completed 16 of 28 passes for 222 yards in a pedestrian performance last week as Virginia Tech turned to its defense to manhandle the Blue Hens. East Carolina is off to an abysmal start under coach Scottie Montgomery. The Pirates lost to FCS powerhouse James Madison in their opener and then were crushed by West Virginia 56-20 last week, a decision so lopsided it cost defensive coordinator Kenwick Thompson his job a day later.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET. CBS Sports Network. LINE: Virginia Tech -21
ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH (2-0): The Hokies allowed West Virginia to rack up nearly 600 yards on offense in their first game before limiting the Blue Hens to 223 yards as defensive coordinator Bud Foster notched his 32nd shutout. Virginia Tech defeated visiting East Carolina 54-17 last season after building a 38-0 halftime lead. On the road, however, things have been different as the Hokies’ last three trips to East Carolina have been decided by a touchdown or fewer.
ABOUT EAST CAROLINA (0-2): The Pirates trailed 49-3 at the half last week before West Virginia mercifully called off the onslaught. “We got off to a slow start (in a season-opening loss to James Madison) and I really challenged everybody to get better this week in some way, in some form. I didn’t necessarily think we got better. We needed a little bit of a change in direction,” Montgomery told reporters about the firing of Thompson. Thomas Sirk made his first start for East Carolina, finishing 16-of-34 for 191 with a touchdown before leaving with a concussion and is questionable for Saturday.
1. Defensive line coach Robert Prunty took over for Thompson.
2. Greg Stroman last week became the first player in Virginia Tech history to return a punt for a touchdown in three consecutive seasons.
3. East Carolina has been outscored 56-3 in the combined first halves of its first two games and has allowed 616.5 yards per game the first two weeks, ranking 128th out of 129 FBS teams.
PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 45, East Carolina 10