ECU football preview
EAST CAROLINA (2-2, 0-1 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE) AT TEMPLE (2-3, 1-0 AAC)
LAST TIME OUT ON THE FIELD
East Carolina won a back-and-forth battle in dramatic fashion over Old Dominion 37-35 to closeout its non-conference schedule. There were four possession changes in the final four minutes of play, but the Pirates kicked a game-winning field goal with 46 seconds remaining to win it, keeping kicker Jake Verity perfect on the year in field-goal attempts.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- How will ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery handle his quarterbacks? Starting QB Reid Herring sat out drives in the second half of the last game partly due to being benched and partly due to a lagging ankle injury he endured in practice. In the post-game presser following ECU’s win, Herring said his ankle was bothering him and he’d have to take less duties in practice this week. No. 3 QB Holton Ahlers has only one more game of eligibility remaining if the Pirates do decide to redshirt him. Montgomery declined to comment on a decision, but did say the way Ahlers has been playing is a vital component of the team’s offense. No. 2 QB Kingsley Ifedi is being treated as the No. 3 with not much playing time, but that could change depending on what Montgomery decides to do with Ahlers.
- Can the Pirates break their losing streak against the Owls? ECU has scored just 10 points in three of its last four contests against Temple and put up 14 in the fourth game. The Pirates lost all four games and were outscored by the Owls 115-44. In the two teams’ meeting last year, Temple held the Pirates to season-lows of points scored (10) and rush yards (34), and allowed only 253 yards while putting up 523 of its own.
- Will the ECU offense match the steadily improving defense? The Pirates continue to ascend higher in the national rankings on defense, as this is the fourth-straight game their national rank has improved. They now sit at No. 17 in the nation in total defense, in a tie with Wisconsin. ECU’s defense allows 4.88 yards per play and gives up an average of three touchdowns per game. It also has given up 1,231 yards this season, which is good for 307.8 yards per game. The ECU offense has gained more yards from scrimmage than the defense has allowed in each game this season, so if the offense can clean up its turnovers, and the Pirates continue in this trend, they will start picking up more wins.