ECU football preview
Published 10:10 pm Thursday, November 1, 2018
MEMPHIS (4-4, 1-3 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE) AT EAST CAROLINA (2-5, 0-4 AAC)
LAST TIME OUT ON THE FIELD
Prior to a bye week last Saturday, East Carolina hosted Central Florida on Oct. 20 for Homecoming, falling 37-10. The Pirates were on the verge of making it a one-score game in the third quarter when they were lined up for third and goal at the 1-yard line. But a costly fumble by quarterback Holton Ahlers, in his first career start, resulted in a 94-yard fumble return for a touchdown that took the remaining life out of ECU. The turnover resulted in a 14-point swing, and UCF put the game out of reach by recovering another fumble on the next drive and scoring four plays later. In Ahlers’ first start, he accounted for 475 yards (406 passing, 69 rushing) and had more yards than the entire Knights’ team (427).
THREE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- Can ECU hang with this year’s Memphis team? Memphis blew out ECU last season, 70-13, on the way to a 10-3 season, but the Tigers, with their 4-4 record and one conference win in four games, haven’t played to the same level as last year. On top of that, Memphis was embarrassed by in-conference rival Tulane, 40-24, who is just one game better overall. Although the Tigers lost by just one to UCF, ECU had a better chance of winning its matchup with the Knights. Had ECU held onto the ball and not committed five turnovers, the Pirates would have most likely ended UCF’s 19-game win streak.
- Can the Pirates get more production out of their running backs? You’d never know ECU has four active running backs on its roster, as none of the four lead the team in rushing. Ahlers does, and if none of the four backs can run through the holes made by the offensive line, the Pirates are going to find themselves having another long day. Credit to starter Anthony Scott though, his fumbling woes have greatly improved, but that may be due to the fact he doesn’t touch the ball that often.
- Is the ECU offense playing too fast for its own good? The Pirates ranks first in all of college football in offensive snaps per game: 87.3. With the high volume of plays dictated by themselves, it creates more opportunities for mistakes, most notably, the five turnovers suffered in its last game. The Pirates have a turnover for a score in almost every game this season, and in order to be successful this Saturday, and moving forward, ECU needs to make sure its high-volume offense does a better job handling the football, whether that’s catching or rushing.