|Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports|
|Linebacker Kyle Tudor, along with Jeremy Grove, will not be available when East Carolina plays Virgina Tech.|
East Carolina will be without its two best linebackers when it plays host to Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Coach Ruffin McNeill said starting inside linebackers Jeremy Grove (chest injury) and Kyle Tudor (shoulder injury) will miss at least one game after being hurt in last week's victory over Florida Atlantic.
Grove (6-feet-1, 240 pounds), a junior who is ECU's best defender, was a first-team preseason All-Conference USA selection who made 205 tackles in his first two seasons. He is a strong presence against the run, and his absence will hurt against the Hokies. While he's not the quickest guy, Grove is physical and has good instincts. Tudor (6-3, 242), a senior, is a good athlete with strength who has the potential to be a third-day pick in the draft.
Sophomore Zeek Bigger (6-2, 228) and junior Brandon Williams (6-1, 240) now will start Saturday. Each had nine tackles against Florida Atlantic, and Bigger also had a sack. True freshman Devaris Brunson (6-1, 210), the defensive centerpiece of ECU's recruiting class, also should see time.
A key for East Carolina will be stopping Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas, who hasn't played that well this season. If Thomas is effective running the ball, the Pirates are in trouble.
Grove and Tudor could be back Sept. 28, when the Pirates play at North Carolina. ECU is off Sept. 21.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.