It's been a bit up and down for Virginia Tech, playing the top-ranked team in the country in a raucous Georgia Dome in week one, then playing and FCS fledgling at home last weekend in week two. The Hokies now face their first true road game of the season, at East Carolina Saturday.
Following a 35-10 loss to Alabama, coach Frank Beamer said he saw some improvements in the areas that needed them. Of course, after a 45-3 win over Western Carolina, this week offers a different challenge. Not only do the Hokies get back to playing FBS football, they play a team with a more dynamic offense that should offer a big test, coupled with the road atmosphere.
Beamer isn't calling this a 'trap game,' but he said it will be a tough task. More than anything though, he hopes his team continues to build and improve.
"I thought we took a step, I thought our execution overall, offensively was better," Beamer said. "Our special teams play was much better. You're stepping it back up, playing a lot more athletic team, more athletes running around this week than we did last week. We've gotta keep stepping it up. A goal, like I've said a lot of times is just to continue to get better. If we continue to get better, our goal is to be good by Georgia Tech. And with as many young guys as we've got and so forth, I think that's the way it needs to go."
Before Virginia Tech can get to the Yellow Jackets and open up conference play, they'll face a Pirates team this weekend that's scored 83 points in two games this season. East Carolina rolled up 481 yards of total offense in a 52-38 win over Old Dominion and 312 yards five days later in a 31-13 win over Florida Atlantic.
"They know what they're doing," Beamer said. "They throw it there and if you're not careful, a five-yard gain turns into a 20-yard gain. That's what you can't let happen. We have to keep their completions to minimum yardage and keep playing."
One big question for the Hokies is, do they know what they're doing on offense? That's now particularly at running back, where after lack of ball carriers in the season-opener, Virginia Tech now has four healthy running backs in Trey Edmunds, J.C. Coleman, Joel Caleb and Chris Mangus.
"We're gonna see how we practice this week and talk about that in a couple of days," Beamer said. "I'm still firm in that people have to get in there and get comfortable. You can't have too many guys running in there."
Of course, for Beamer, it all comes down to following up on a mostly successful win over the Catamounts.
Defensive coordinator Bud Foster has been adamant in reminding his defense, especially on not letting up. It bit the Hokies hard last season after a dramatic season-opening win over Georgia Tech, before a slide that left them fighting to get to a bowl.
"They're just a year older and they're smart kids," Beamer said. "They know what happened. We came out and practiced a lot for Georgia Tech, but went up there to Pittsburgh and they kinda came right at us. All of a sudden, we didn't play so well. But when you have maturity and you've got good leaders and you've got Jack Tylers there, they went through that, Kyle Fuller. They understand, it's just week to week and you've gotta play every play, every game. We've talked about that as what we learned from last year."