ECU football preview
Published 9:06 pm Thursday, October 18, 2018
CENTRAL FLORIDA (6-0, 3-0 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE) AT EAST CAROLINA (2-4, 0-3 AAC)
LAST TIME OUT ON THE FIELD
East Carolina lost in a blowout for the second consecutive week, 42-20, this time at home by AAC West division front-runner Houston (5-1, 2-0 AAC). The Pirates were held to just 6 points before the fourth quarter, but once head coach Scottie Montgomery put in true freshman quarterback Holton Ahlers, who lost his ability to redshirt this season by playing in the contest, ECU drove down the field to score on 96 and 67-yard touchdown drives to cut the deficit.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- Can ECU put an end to Central Florida’s win streak? The Knights come to town not having lost a game in 19 tries, dating back to Dec. 17, 2016 in the Cure Bowl against Arkansas State. UCF received a scare last weekend against Memphis, needing a late field goal to come away with a one-point victory. That should give confidence to the Pirates, but they haven’t fared well against AAC opponents, having been outscored 111-39 in three conference games, all losses.
- Do the Pirates have an answer for McKenzie Milton? The Knights’ quarterback has had plenty of success against ECU, having already beaten the Pirates twice, including last season’s 63-21 victory, when Milton went 21-for-27 with 324 yards and three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing). The junior, with his 157.4 QB efficiency rating, is having another strong season, and Pirate defensive players like Nate Harvey and Kendall Futrell will need to have monster games in order to keep Milton under wraps.
- Will ECU slow down UCF’s run game? The Knights come into Saturday’s game averaging 252.0 yards per game on the ground, while ECU surrenders an average of 118.2. The Pirates have allowed some long rushing scores this year, but improved play from the likes of Harvey, Futrell and Aaron Ramseur has helped ECU rack up 61 tackles for loss, good for second in the nation. Last season, the Knights scored five rushing touchdowns against ECU, but it appears the Pirates are better equipped to handle UCF’s ground game this go around.