Virginia Tech Football: 5 Hokies to Watch vs. East Carolina

This weekend, Virginia Tech faces its first true road test in Greenville, NC. Here are 5 key Hokies to keep an eye during this matchup. 

Andrew Motuapuaka

Two years ago, the Hokies lost to Duke in a 4OT instant classic at Lane. In that game, then-Duke QB Thomas Sirk went off for 379 total yards, and Motuapuaka was largely to blame.

As the mike linebacker, Motu basically runs the defense in Bud Foster’s system. In that game, Duke dominated him. Undersized players laid him out on blocks, and he continually got caught in “no-man’s land.”

A lot has changed since that game. First of all, Motuapuaka has advanced miles in his development with the Hokies. Second, Sirk has transferred to East Carolina.

Sirk is currently in the concussion protocol, but he has a good chance of playing against Virginia Tech. If healthy, he is the presumed starter. According to Ricky LaBlue, Foster and the defense are preparing under that assumption.

If that is the case, the Hokies should somewhat know what to prepare for. Let’s hope Motuapuaka does a much better job of containing Sirk this time around.

Josh Jackson

If I mention the leader of the defense, I figured I should mention the leader of the offense, too. After having a monster day in his debut against West Virginia, the redshirt-freshman faltered against Delaware.

In some cases last week, it appeared Jackson made good decisions to throw the ball away and avoid turnovers. Other times, it looked like Delaware’s experienced defense simply confused him and led to him missing wide open receivers.

As far as Jackson’s potential, his ceiling is as high as anyone’s. But he’s young, and he will certainly have some growing pains.

That said, ECU has a really bad defense. There’s really no other way to put it. Last week, they trailed West Virginia 49-3 at halftime. The only reason that West Virginia scored less than 70 is because they played backups for most of the second half.

In addition, ECU “reassigned” defensive coordinator Kenwick Thompson and promoted defensive line coach Robert Prunty to coordinator. All that to say, Jackson should put up stats closer to his Week 1 performance.

Sean Savoy

Heading into the season, Virginia Tech had a lot of question marks at the wide receiver position. While many of those questions still loom, one name that has emerged is Sean Savoy.

Savoy certainly has speed, and he is a natural at the slot position. However, due to injuries and overall lack of depth, the scheme forces him to slide outside in many situations.

Despite being undersized, Savoy shows promise at the position. The main example is his leaping catch 2nd quarter against Delaware. In other cases, Savoy’s inexperience is evident, as shown by a wide open drop of  60 yard TD in that same game.

Maybe it isn’t fair to ask so much from a true freshman receiver. Usually, he would have much more time to develop. Yet the Hokies need him now, so he will be forced to grow up fast. Savoy is on the right track, which should continue this weekend.

Eric Kumah

I am putting two receivers in a row on this list. That is how important the position is for the Hokies.

As a true sophomore, Kumah is still very young, just like Savoy. However, he has much more experience, with an entire year under his belt.

Saturday will be Kumah’s 17th career game, and he has yet to make a catch. That is just not acceptable out of a starting wide receiver.

In addition, Fuente officially announced that Phil Patterson has undergone surgery. His status for the season is unknown. For these reasons, mark down Kumah as a player who needs to get involved in the next two weeks before ACC play.

Terrell Edmunds

Coming into the season, Hokie fans saw the secondary as a strength for this team. With returning guys such as Edmunds, Alexander, and Stroman, and freshman Devon Hunter set to make his debut, it was an intriguing corps.

In some ways, it definitely still is. Alexander and Stroman have played well, and newcomer Divine Deablo has definitely impressed. In my opinion, Edmunds has underperformed.

Against the Mountaineers, Terrell Edmunds was beaten numerous times before exiting the game with cramps. Last week, he certainly improved (8 tackles, 1.5 TFL, and a tipped INT), but he still had no passes defended, and Delaware beat him a couple of times in coverage.

Terrell Edmunds certainly has the potential to be a great player for the Hokies. He had a great year last year, and he’s had a whole offseason to condition and refine his skills. I hope to see him take a step forward this year, and it can start against East Carolina.