Despite Isaiah Ford's Daring End Zone Grab, Justin Fuente Hoping to Rein in Jerod Evans Against ECU

Results aside, Fuente wants to see his QB avoid similarly dangerous plays going forward.

[Mark Umansky]

As soon as Scottie Montgomery flicked on some film to prepare for ECU's looming matchup with the Hokies, one particular play jumped out at him above all the others.

Like most fans watching Tech's 49-0 dismantling of Boston College last week, he couldn't help but notice Isaiah Ford's leaping 30-yard touchdown grab in double coverage.

"You talk about plays in single matchups, he even made plays in double team matchups, like that ball on the back end line, going up and getting that ball," Montgomery said on a conference call with reporters.

Montgomery may be new to ECU, but after spending a few years as David Cutcliffe's offensive coordinator at Duke, he admits that it was hardly surprising that Ford could manage such an athletic feat. Instead, what that truly stood out to him was that QB Jerod Evans was so comfortable trusting Ford on that sort of play in just their third game together.

"Right now, Jerod Evans trusts Isaiah that he's going to go and make a play for him," Montgomery said.

But Evans quickly admitted after the game that he knows he shouldn't have been quite so trusting in that particular situation, and Fuente hasn't been shy about publicly scolding his QB for it (the outcome of the play aside). Ironically, the throw that so piqued Montgomery's interest isn't necessarily one that the head Hokie ever wanted Evans to make.

"They were in man free coverage and the safety was cheating to Isaiah like he was much of the game, so we just can't force those things," Fuente said on a conference call of his own. "As much as we want to make sure Isaiah gets involved in the game plan, there are other capable players out there as well. So it's just making sure we trust our fundamentals and understanding what we're trying to accomplish with each play is paramount to the quarterback position. That doesn't mean that all the results are always going to be negative or positive when you do go where you're supposed to go."

Indeed, Fuente admits that it's impossible to be too mad at Evans considering how expertly he placed that ball to help enable Ford's athletic grab.

But in film study this week, he's certainly emphasized that Evans can't afford to keep making that sort of decision, especially in light of his relative inconsistency when going deep (research from ESPN's David Hale shows that Evans is 4 for 12 on throws of 20 yards or more, placing him ninth in the ACC).

"Making sure we're being conscious of where we should be going with the ball is the most important teaching point," Fuente said.

In particular, he stressed that East Carolina's defense is not one that Evans should take lightly.

The Pirates aren't setting the world on fire statistically so far — they're allowing 218 yards through the air per game so far, good for 62nd nationally, and letting opposing QBs complete 57.5 percent of their passes. But ECU did manage to hold NC State a bit below their season average when it comes to passing yards (the Wolfpack are ranked 27th in the country with 287 yards per game, yet managed 282 against ECU), and Fuente warned that their defense is deceptively athletic.

"That's the first thing that jumps off the film at you, they can really run at all their spots," Fuente said. "They like to move up front, they give you a few different looks, they're not the kind of screw your cleats into the ground type of defense, they're much more of a movement-oriented, speed defense."

Though Fuente shared a conference with the Pirates back in his AAC days at Memphis, he notes that he hasn't actually played ECU since his first year with the Tigers back in 2012. Combined with the departure of Ruffin McNeill, Fuente admits that there's plenty new about the Pirates to give the Hokies reason to make tweaks to the offense.

"What other teams' strengths and weaknesses are causes you to change a little bit from week to week," Fuente said. "We're still figuring out how to adapt our personnel to those changes that need to be made on a week to week basis, who can handle those changes, who can't handle those changes, and we're still learning each other in terms of that mindset, but I'm optimistic that we're getting better and continuing to figure out those skill sets and see what guys can handle."

Though Montgomery notes that he's more accustomed to the Hokies playing exotic defensive schemes than offensive ones — after all, the 37-year-old says he's been watching Tech play "good defensive football" essentially "since I was a baby" — he's still fully prepared to see Fuente make some substantial adjustments on offense come Saturday.

"They've grown their offense," Montgomery said. "They can get into big sets, they can get into spread sets, they've got a good understanding of the quarterback run game. I think their run pass option game is great, they can also run speed option with this kid."

Tech's tougher challenge may very well come on defense instead. ECU is once again at the top of the leader boards when it comes to passing offense (currently placing seventh nationally with 370 yards per game), thanks to the excellent play of both QB Philip Nelson and WR Zay Jones.

Most notably, Jones managed an eye-popping 22 catches for 190 yards in the team's losing effort against South Carolina last week, and he certainly has Fuente's full attention.

"Obviously he's a gifted athlete, he seems to have great savvy in terms of being able to settle in zone coverage and also defeat man coverage in terms of attacking leverage and doing the little things that create separation," Fuente said. "He's obviously sure handed."

Montgomery admitted that "you never go into a game thinking a guy can come out with 22 catches," but he credits the team's creativity in moving Jones around for generating that sort of result. Since he believes that Jones has the flexibility to play just about any role in ECU's offense, Montgomery expects that he'll have to be similarly creative with Jones to poke some holes in Tech's top-ranked pass defense.

"Sometimes when you leave him three by one backside, they can do some things in coverage to kind of hurt you, so we put him with a few people a couple of times, put him on the interior, put him in a tighter alignment sometimes to help us out," Montgomery said. "He is a weapon that we can utilize at all positions. He can play all four receiver positions and play them well, he knows the details of each one of those positions. He'll be playing football for a long time."

After the Pirates so famously burned the Hokies through the air back in 2014, there's little doubt that Fuente will be acutely aware of the threat Jones and company can pose.

"It's quite a task to take those guys on," Fuente said.

Comments

"It's quite a task to take those guys on," Fuente said. Well, I think we're not only ready, but capable of taking those guys on. One of my buddies says he expects a tight game, with Tech pulling away at the end, and I'm not able to refute his prediction, but I do think our defense will be the real key to this game. BC had so many drops and that called back kick return that I don't think we can count on total domination, but I do believe we will adapt to their offense and shut them down in the long run. Offensively, I believe we'll score well enough if we protect the ball.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

"It's quite a task to take those guys on."---Translation: "They'll get after ya."

All of a sudden, I found myself in love with the world
So there was only one thing that I could do
Was ding a ding, dang my dang a long ling long....

But why should we have to press 1 for "Beamer"?

Hearing they might go with 2 QB's so that'll be interesting. I know Summers
got us pretty good last year then also factor in the weather and that didn't help.

I wonder if Hale's analysis accounted for drops by receivers because I know Bucky and Divine have dropped one a piece. Also, as I watch the NC State vs ECU game, they do have the ability to make big plays, but Nelson also makes a lot of bad decisions. NC State should have had three picks in the first have so I fully expect Bud and the secondary to take advantage of Nelsons mistakes.

I know Bucky has dropped more than 1.

I think he dropped two or three on one series.

"I'll put a quote here to distract you from my inane comment."-Me

Most disappointing thing (besides the fumbles) has been the drops by Bucky. He's got to improve his hands.

'Its easy to grin, when your ship comes in, and you've got the stock market beat,
but the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile, when his shorts are too tight in the seat'

I've heard / read / said enough about our past failures and needed changes.

Let's just go out and there and dominate their ass.

Woah there...

Regarding my phrasing...

Thirsty for revenge!!! In many ways I want this game more than most, which is stupid as conference play is obviously the most important.... But I want the pirates to regret dressing out that day!!!!

Straining my brain trying to put this season into perspective after 3 games. We are averaging scoring 10.4 more points per game than the average for the last 3 years. Also allowing 2.3 points less per game. That would be 12.7 more points in the victory margins, which if based on 2015 results, would translate into 5 more wins (12-1). Also we are averaging 3.2 more 1st downs per game and we had 3.8 times more interceptions per game in the past 3 years than what we have so far in 2016. Just numbers but fun to look at! How about a few legs!

Shep7777

Didn't understand your INT stat because I was thinking defensive, but you meant offensive. That makes more sense. Good visual overall.

And rule #1 of turkey legs: don't ask for turkey legs.

___

-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

Thanks for the comments. Guess I should have made that clearer on the INT's. I'm thinking less INT's translates into less points against, but not sure how you'd calculate that. Also, more 1st downs should add to our time of possession. Sorry about breaking rule #1, Newbie here!

Shep7777

Welcome, have a leg on me. You're not the first, nor the last, to make that slip. Happy TKP'ing!

There is nothing in the world like Thursday night in Blacksburg!

You can't put a season in perspective after 3 games. You put a season in perspective after the season.

But if you're going to cherry-pick stats, perhaps using the first 3 games of the last 3 years vs this year is a better comparison. My guess is the numbers are more comparable.

Much as I hate to admit it, the stat that is cherrypicked away here is fumbles.

If you're reading the above post and thinking, "is this guy serious?!?," you can safely assume I'm not.

nice work.... that point average would be a lot higher if it weren't for those 5 fumbles!

Bleeding burnt orange and chicago maroon

So much for the theory of not having intermediate-deep throws because Jerod is protecting the football.

___

-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

Bud's D is they key here. Minimize big plays and force field goals. They are going to get their yardage but that doesn't mean they have to get the points. They struggled in the RZ against USCe. They couldn't run the ball. I fully anticipate they are going to work summers against us and I think we will be prepared for it.

I didnt think the throw to Ford was so risky necessarily. He put it in a good spot and it worked out well, but what do I know. And we need to put a nice thrashing to ECU to quell any ideas of a "rivalry" with the Pirates. I actually have a lot of respect for the Pirates, but should not be a question mark on our schedule.

Throwing ball into double coverage is risky.
It was perfectly thrown, which is not his norm for deep balls, and perfectly played by Ford.
It worked but, the RNG god was with us on that one.

Had to balance out the first two games.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

The defense has been and will continue to be better than the defense last year. Let's just say, aside from the injuries last year, there was also a difference of opinion on what coverage the d-backs would be in (don't ask me how I know). That difference of opinion has been solved by the incoming staff. We will be just fine this year and beat ECU by 20+. GO HOKIES!!

don't ask me how I know

...but...how do you know?

If a tree falls in Scott Stadium does it make a sound?

Rule #1, never reveal your sources.

Rule #2, never qualify statements with bait.

You could have left the parenthetical statement out and it would have been fine.

You know how when you tell a kid not to do something the first thing that kid wants to do is that thing you told them not to do? It's a psychological truth that human beings are curious and tempted to try things they're told not to do.

Next time just say you have #sauces that say ...(whatever news you want to share) .... and be done with it

If a tree falls in Scott Stadium does it make a sound?

Dude, relax.

He put it in there to lend some weight to his statement. Anytime anyone posts something on there the auto response is "source?". He was preempting that response. You aren't the sources police and don't need to jump on him.

"We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior" Stephen M.R. Covey

“When life knocks you down plan to land on your back, because if you can look up, you can get up, if you fall flat on your face it can kill your spirit” David Wilson

If a tree falls in Scott Stadium does it make a sound?

Next time just say you have #sauces that say ...(whatever news you want to share) .... and be done with it

He did this exact thing with different words

Here is a clue: Decemebr 2013 Cigaar Aficionado in the "Moments to Remember"

Larry Parker?

He had 8.5ypc? That's not very good. I didn't watch their game, was ECU just running 2 yard outs and screen passes all game?

Rip his freaking head off!

Watching it right now. Yes, a ton of screens and short outs and crossing routes.

Sadly, no more long passes into coverage

Only medium range strilkes to open receivers

or preferably the read option where you can hand it off or pass

"Some days you’re a horse and some days you’re a horse’s ass. I’ve been a horse’s ass for a little while." - Roy Halladay

Evans will really start to "bloom" into a well rounded QB

anybody? No? I'll see myself out

The Dude Abides

Don't forget about tucking the ball and vaulting over the defenders.

If you're reading the above post and thinking, "is this guy serious?!?," you can safely assume I'm not.

Hmmm... He has yet to show the trucking ability that Logan had, so I'm not sure he's quite there, yet... but he does seem to be pretty nimble and light on his feet when scrambling around

"Some days you’re a horse and some days you’re a horse’s ass. I’ve been a horse’s ass for a little while." - Roy Halladay