Pirates host injury-ridden BYU for homecoming

Published 4:38 pm Friday, October 20, 2017

GREENVILLE — This weekend, East Carolina will receive a break from its American Athletic Conference schedule when it hosts Brigham Young at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for Saturday night’s homecoming game.

After facing several nationally ranked teams this season, ECU will look to its game against BYU as a chance to receive a boost of energy to propel it into the backend of the season. While both teams only have a win apiece, it is not a direct correlation to the teams’ abilities. ECU and BYU were both plagued with extremely difficult schedules, facing nationally ranked teams several times early in the season.

“They’ve also played a ridiculously tough schedule. They’ve played Wisconsin, LSU — big time opponents. Mississippi State, you name it,” head coach Scottie Montgomery said. “I don’t think anybody would trade their schedule to this point in time so we are looking at a really good football team that just happened to go against the likes of Boise State and some other places that have been traditionally great football programs.”

This weekend’s matchup will most likely lead to a high scoring game as neither ECU or BYU have shown strong defenses this season. The Pirates might have a bit of an advantage, however, as the Cougars have heavier running backs that are more based around strength than speed. They may have a speed advantage over BYU, but their defense will need to tackle better against strong opposition.

In the past ECU has struggled holding its opponents in the run-game, and currently sits at No. 126 out of 129 teams for rushing defenses in college football. BYU, however, is ranked at No. 125 for rushing offenses, so this weekend will rely on which team has truly been improving throughout the year.

Overall this season the Cougars have rushed for 615 yards, while surrendering 1,309 yards to their opponents’ run-game.

“Offensively they are kind of a different team than we have seen and they are more of a power team with bigger backs, much bigger backs,” Montgomery said. “For instance, a 250-pound back versus a 175-pound back that we have faced. So it is a different challenge.”

It is typically expected that playing at home can play to the home team’s advantage. This season, Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium has not been as full as it has in the past. Montgomery has asked for the fans and students to come out and support the Pirates during this homecoming game, as it will be the last for several seniors.

“The main reason I ask this is because of the sacrifice of our football players. The next thing is supporting the university and supporting and serving our colors,” Montgomery said. “This isn’t easy. There is no rhyme or reason to what has happened. But what I’ll do is that I will say I know that true pirate fans will come out and support us.”

Saturday’s game will be a marker for the few games remaining in both ECU and BYU’s schedules. This win will give a boost of energy to whichever team comes out on top, but it will most likely be the nail in the coffin for the losing team.

“I can guarantee that these guys in the locker room are giving every single thing that they have,” Montgomery said. “We are working as hard as we possibly can and the product will get better. I want people to be there so they can see it when it starts to turn.”

A homecoming win will bring ECU one more victory closer to matching last year’s total of three. Picking up some momentum in this winnable contest could be just the swing the Pirates need to pick up a win or two that would prove to the fan base that they’re not regressing.