Justin Hardy Watch: ECU vs Virginia Tech

Coming off a tough loss to the +South Carolina Gamecocks, the ECU Pirates faced another tough road challenge in Blacksburg against +Virginia Tech.   This time, Justin Hardy matched up against a top-rate secondary led by sophomore standout Kendall Fuller. The "Man with the Golden Gloves" only showed up for the 1st half, registering 4 receptions for 47 yards.  The Pirates exploded in the 1st quarter, putting up 21 on big plays through the air.  Hardy was having a solid half, even against the tough corner, but the "Man with Golden Gloves,"disappeared into the locker room at half-time and didn't return.  Justin Hardy came back, but he had exchanged his gold gloves for a pair of purple and black. There seemed to be some psychological effect with this change as the Pirates offense simply fell asleep.  Usually one would think that Hardy disappeared, but this was really more a result of poor quarterback play and offensive play calling.  The Pirate quarterback finished 23/47, missing Hardy twice in the second half.  Carden rediscovered his mojo in a last minute drive to win to end a 3 quarter scoring drought.

This wasn't a particularly standout game for Hardy. Some of that should be attributed to the defensive play of Kendell Fuller.  Most of this, however, was simply because of poor play by ECU.  Hardy didn't seem to be the root of the problem.

What did stand out then?  Hardy made a savvy play in the 1st quarter on 2nd and 3 on a deep shot, where he got away with an offensive pass interference and drew a defensive pass interference on Kyle Fuller.  Both guys were hand-fighting down the sideline with the ball in the air.  Seeing exactly where the official was ahead, Hardy tugged the back of Fuller's jersey with his left hand throwing Fuller off balance a bit.  It drew enough contact for the officiating to call interference on Hardy's route.  Looking closely at the play, Hardy should have been flagged.

One of the keys to Hardy's game are the little nuances that pay big dividends. The "Man with the Golden Gloves" is a smart receiver.  C3 described him as cerebral in Week 1, and it continues to show with this small play that eventually resulted in a touchdown for the Pirates.  Another week and another showing that Hardy would be a smart addition to the +Carolina Panthers in 2015.