The bad news is they have a lot to work on, and only a few days to make improvements.
Coach Frank Beamer said after the 35-28 loss in Greenville, North Carolina that the exhibition portion of the Hokies' schedule is complete. The regular season, or Atlantic Coast Conference play, begins this weekend against Pittsburgh.
The Panthers (2-1) were off last weekend and have won five of the last six games in the series. Beamer hopes the Hokies (2-2) learned plenty from a non-conference slate that included losses to No. 1 Ohio State and the Pirates, and victories against Furman of the FCS and Purdue.
''I think anyone who knows the business knows the conference games are what are important,'' Beamer said Monday, noting that by winning ACC games, teams gain the chance to play for the league title and an Orange Bowl berth.
But the Hokies have much work to do entertain those expectations.
They allowed East Carolina to run for 182 yards, including 169 by backup quarterback James Summers, and blamed sloppy tackling. The Hokies scored twice in the first eight minutes to go ahead 14-0, then saw the Pirates post 28 unanswered points. And they continued to be penalty prone, getting whistled 11 times for 89 yards.
In four games, the Hokies have been flagged 38 times for 340 yards.
Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said a few of the flags could be blamed on youth and the noise at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, and a few were suspect.
''I have my opinions on them,'' he said, ''and I am not going to share my opinions with you.''
Loeffler had plenty to say about quarterback Brenden Motley's performance.
in just his third start since replacing the injured Michael Brewer, Motley threw for 281 yards and a touchdown and ran for 85 more and another touchdown. Before Brewer was injured, Motley had thrown just three passes as a college player.
''I think he's doing a really good job,'' Loeffler said. ''He's a guy that's getting better from week to week. He's a guy that's getting comfortable being the starter and I'm really proud of that guy.''
The Panthers, under new coach Pat Narduzzi, will present a stiff challenge, Loeffler said.
''Well, they're the 17th-rated defense in America. They stop the run. They're only giving up 92 yards a game rushing. They're giving up a little under 200 passing,'' he said. ''They get off the field.''
Pittsburgh is allowing opponents to convert less than 30 percent of its third-down plays.
The Panthers also feature one of the best wide receivers in the conference in Tyler Boyd, whose six catches in Pitt's 21-16 victory against the Hokies last season included a 53-yard touchdown for the game's first points.
The Hokies were without All-American cornerback Kendall Fuller at East Carolina, and the Pirates picked on Greg Stroman, who replaced him in the lineup, repeatedly. Fuller is unlikely to play on Saturday, Beamer said.
The AP's college football page: http://collegefootball.ap.org
Follow Hank on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/hankkurzjr