A look at ECU vs. UTEP

Published 12:53 pm Friday, November 28, 2008

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
UTEP: Today’s game might not have that much meaning to the Pirates, but it means everything to UTEP as its bowl eligibility is on the line. So expect the Miners to play with a sense of urgency, and possibly use some non-conventional play-calling.
UTEP comes into Greenville with a high-powered offense that is averaging 35 points per game and is directed by star sophomore quarterback Trevor Vittatoe. The 6-2, 215-pound gunslinger already holds the school’s single-season record for most TD passes with 31, and will look to add to that total today.
The Miners run a three-wide set with a lone tailback and a tight end. When it comes to running the ball, UTEP spreads its carries out between senior Terrell Jackson (407 yards) and sophomore Donald Buckram (336).
UTEP features three receivers with over 30 catches in Jeff Moturi (48), Kris Adams (41) and Jamar Hunt (31). Adams leads the group with 842 receiving yards and 13 touchdown receptions, while averaging 76 yards per game.
Up front, UTEP is powered by two mammoth sophomore tackles in 6-7, 265-pound Will Osolinsky (LT) and 6-8, 315-pound Alex Solot (RT).
ECU: Some how the Pirates keep finding away to survive despite average play at quarterback and an inconsistent running game. In Saturday’s 17-13 win over UAB, East Carolina rushed 39 times for only 56 yards while totaling a mere 296 yards of total offense. However, a win is a win.
Tight end Devon Drew continues to step up for the injury-riddled Pirates’ offense, and against UAB he had 7 catches for a career-high 95 yards.
Though backup QB Rob Kass came in late in the game for ECU last week and directed the game-winning drive, ECU coach Skip Holtz said he still plans on starting Patrick Pinkney.
UTEP: Holtz said the Miners use various formations on defense and really like to try and confuse opposing quarterbacks. UTEP does a nice job of creating turnovers, and is currently fifth in the nation in turnover margin at plus-14. Linebacker Adam Vincent is the team’s top tackler with 101 and has the most tackles for a loss with 6.5.
Everyone of the Miners starters in the secondary has earned an INT this season, and junior cornerback Cornelius Brown has nabbed a team-high three picks.
ECU: Senior linebacker Pierre Bell has been amazing this season. Though he switched from middle to outside linebacker he hasn’t missed a beat. Against UAB Bell came up with a late, game-clinching INT, and his 82 tackles is a team-best.
The Pirates enjoyed the return of defensive end Zack Slate last week, but could be without its other DE, and sack leader (7.5) C.J. Wilson. Wilson, along with (DE) Scotty Robinson, (LB) Chris Mannix, (SS) J.J. Milbrook are all listed as questionable for today’s game. Expect Holtz to exercise caution in who he plays.
On a good note, linebackers Cliff Perryman (shoulder) and Jeremy Chambliss (ankle) were listed as probable.
Special Teams:
UTEP: Place kicker Jose Martinez is a three-time Lou Groza Star of the Week award winner which is given to the week’s best kicker. Martinez is also one of 20 semifinalist on for the season’s Groza award. The junior has a deadly leg, and booted a 64-yard field goal against UCF on Sept. 27th.
ECU: Ben Hartman continues to be a mystery for East Carolina. Holtz said leading up to the UAB game, Hartman had performed well in practice. However, he was 1-3 against the Blazers and his inconsistency has gotten to the point were Holtz said he might have to consider altering his decisions on fourth downs. On the year, Hartman has made 13 off his 22 FG attempts. -Brian Haines