Josh Graham: When asked about the upcoming game against ECU, All-ACC linebacker Jack Tyler said “This is probably their Super Bowl.” Does that comment reflect the entire team’s approach to playing the Pirates?
Bill Roth: “Jack’s got an interesting story because Jack’s dad, “Tiny” Tim Tyler, played for ECU and they’re having their 40th reunion in Greenville. And this is Jack’s dad’s first time back to Greenville since he played.”
“Jack’s dad was torn, so he’s going to wear one of Jack’s jerseys to the game in the sea of alums and ex-players. So Jack’s perspective on East Carolina is totally different than most guys because his dad played there.”
JG: Now that Virginia Tech has played the gamut of college football – it faced both Alabama and Western Carolina – what has been the team’s mindset traveling on the road to Greenville?
BR: “I think this is just like an ACC road game in terms of the quality of athlete from the other side, of the quality of coaching, on the home-field advantage that the home team gets. I think it’s a really good game for Virginia Tech to play.”
“Not only is it a nice rivalry and it geographically makes sense to play, but in terms of getting your team ready for conference play, it’s a nice game to play in September. It’s a great crowd, ECU fans are loud; they are kind of like Virginia Tech fans, they love their team and they’re passionate about it.
That is 100 percent how they look at the game and why they play it and I think it will be a good test for a lot of the young players on the team.”
JG: Logan Thomas is back for his senior season at quarterback. Aside from his hulking 6-foot-5 inch, 255-pound frame, what makes him difficult to play against?
BR: “Logan had a great sophomore year and a not so great junior year. His numbers two years ago were just incredible and last year weren’t so good. We brought in a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach this year and they’ve tweaked the offense here that probably suits him a little bit more.”
“Clearly coming into last year, a lot of folks thought he could have another tremendous season and leave early, but it didn’t happen for him. He’s worked very hard over the last year or so to prepare for his last collegiate season.”
“He’s got all the physical tools with the size and the arm strength, but he’s turned over the ball too frequently. But coaches love his poise, and his moxy and his leadership skills … It’s his team, there’s no question.”
JG: Outside of Logan Thomas, there aren’t any other household names on the offensive side of the ball. Who are some of the guys you expect to emerge as playmakers at the skill positions?
BR: “Trey Edmunds is going to start at tailback. He’s a redshirt freshman, who’s dad at Maryland, and the NFL as a tight end and was his high school coach as well. I think he’s a kid who’s going to be a bright star here at Tech.”
“The receiving corps, they’re taking applications for the next star in waiting. It’s been an interesting couple of years with the Virginia Tech receivers. They did not have a good night against Alabama, they dropped a ton of passes. They played better last week against Western Carolina."
“Joshua Stanford is a kid, who like Edmunds, is a redshirt freshman that is going to start and probably is the guy I’d keep my eye on, No. 5.”
JG: What are some of the keys for Virginia Tech to win in Greenville?
BR: “Anytime you play on the road, turnovers are huge. The odds of winning a game away from home if you lose the turnover battle are greatly diminished. I think that’s clearly the case in this game.”
“The key probably for Tech is to put the Pirates in uncomfortable down-and-distance situations, which is kind of what they did last time that they played (17-10 win for Virginia Tech). If the Pirate offense gets going it’s hard to stop and it can really click.”
You can’t let the opponent get into a ryhtym and you got to be super physical at the point of attack and be super aggressive defensively. I don’t know that it’s a whole lot different than playing any other spread team.”
JG: The Hokies return nine starters on Bud Foster’s defense. Talk about how good this unit is and can be?
BR: “They’re playing great. They held Alabama to 206 yards and the last two games of last year, the opponents, for about 200 yards. They got eight great defensive lineman, they got a couple of elite defensive lineman as well who will certainly be pros.”
"They got four or five guys on the back-end who has a chance to be really elite corners or safeties. I think if you look at it, there are a lot of NFL players on defense and I think they can be an elite team. The Alabama people were thinking that might be the best defense they play all year. If we can be at that level week in and week out, then our offense can grow.”
“But we got two freshmen who are at corner and I think that is a concern when you play a team that is so good at passing the football … I think up front, Virginia Tech has what you want as a coach in terms of speed, and depth and tackles that are great, but on the back-end we got some inexperience.”