ECU football preview
OLD DOMINION (1-3, 0-2 CONFERENCE USA) AT EAST CAROLINA (1-2, 0-1 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE)
By KAYLA MORTON
LAST TIME OUT ON THE FIELD
East Carolina’s defense has outperformed each opponent it has faced this season, but its record still doesn’t show it. The Pirates dropped their game in South Florida last week, 20-13, after giving up just nine first downs in the game and possessing the ball for over 38 minutes. The Bulls’ touchdowns came on a 68-yard pass and an 80-yard run, with both plays being the result of defensive breakdowns that USF took advantage of. Excluding those plays, USF rushed for only 35 yards and passed for 115 yards in the entire game.
3 THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- Will the Pirate offense step up and match the defense’s productivity? Last season, ECU was ranked last in yards allowed (129th) among all Football Bowl Subdivision teams, and this season, through three games, is ranked 24th. It has given up just eight touchdowns on the year, yet holds a 1-2 record. ECU would at least have another win had it not been for two red zone turnovers in week one against North Carolina A&T. The Pirates cannot blame their defense and defensive coordinator anymore. It’s time to focus on the offensive turnovers and the failure to complete drives with touchdowns. Accountability shifts to the offense now and ECU needs to understand that and finish drives more positively to have any chance this weekend and for the remainder of the season.
- One of ECU’s top cornerbacks looks set to return from injury and bolster an already improved defense. After being rushed to Vidant Medical Center midway through the second quarter of the game against North Carolina, senior cornerback Colby Gore is listed as probable this week. Before his departure against the Tar Heels, he led the team in tackles and pass breakups, something he has struggled with, along with giving up big plays, in his previous years at ECU. In the UNC game alone, he broke up three potential long-pass situations and kept points off the board. His leadership presence will be able to motivate the team and also help the impressive numbers the defense has put up this season.
- How will ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery use his quarterbacks? Starting quarterback Reid Herring was a full participant in practice Wednesday after suffering a minor injury in the USF game, however head coach Scottie Montgomery said Wednesday that ECU will most likely still use multiple QBs on Saturday. Right now, No. 3 QB Holton Ahlers has taken more of a backup role over No. 2 Kingsley Ifedi, but Ahlers is eligible for just two more games this season if the team still wants to redshirt him. Ifedi appeared in a limited role for a few snaps in the first game of the season, but has not done anything notable yet, unlike Ahlers. If ECU still wants to redshirt Ahlers, there is not much reason to play him in this contest, so Ifedi would be the one to split time with Herring. Herring, though, is currently third in the American Athletic Conference in passing yards per game, which leaves the question as to why Montgomery is so adamant about playing multiple QBs each game. Logical eyes should point to ECU benching Ahlers, but be on the lookout for the Pirates to use him more than Ifedi in this game despite Montgomery talking about wanting to see reps from Ifedi.