East Carolina football preview
EAST CAROLINA (2-6, 0-5 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE) AT TULANE (4-5, 3-2 AAC)
LAST TIME OUT ON THE FIELD
ECU’s defense hindered the Pirates from having any kind of chance at home last Saturday in the 59-41 loss to Memphis. Surrendering the most points of any game this season, ECU couldn’t get a defensive stop on a majority of drives and its offense couldn’t keep pace for all four quarters. The Pirates were exposed on the ground and in the air, as the Tigers accumulated 639 yards of total offense, the most of any opponent this year. The horrendous defensive play brought back fears for fans from the previous year, as the big plays the Pirates gave up mirrored their struggles from last season.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- Can the Pirates uphold head coach Scottie Montgomery’s postseason vow? At the close of the 2017 football season, Montgomery stated in a press conference that this year’s Pirate team would make a bowl game. In order to be eligible for a bowl game a team must have six wins on the year, meaning the Pirates, who are on a four-game losing skid, need to win out to keep their hopes alive. A .500 record would be astonishing, as not only would the team finish better than 3-9 for the first time in three years, but it would mean ECU picked up three conference wins and defeated state-rival N.C. State.
- How will ECU’s banged up defensive line hold up? Pass rushers Nate Harvey and Kendall Futrell seem to be the only defensive linemen that appear healthy for the Pirates. After playing more than 80 snaps in the last game, Alex Turner has been covered in bruises at every practice this week, defensive tackle Shaun James has a few fingers either dislocated or broken, defensive tackle Raequan Purvis missed last week’s game and his backup, Jalen Price, had his shoulder heavily wrapped, as neither participated in drills. As the Pirates enter desperation mode to win out, they’re forced to dive deeper and deeper into its depth charts to get players on the field, which is not a good recipe for a team clawing to become bowl eligible.
- Can the Pirates contain the Green Wave ground game? Tulane running backs Corey Dauphine (114 yards) and Darius Bradwell (118 yards) are coming into Saturday’s game hot, after the duo both ran for more than 100 yards and helped Tulane put up 368 rushing yards against South Florida last week. In the last two games, Dauphine has seen 18 and 16 rush attempts, respectively, an uptick of more than 10 attempts from his previous games; something is working on the ground for him that Tulane likes. Most likely running by committee again, Tulane could join the other teams ECU has played this season by breaking through for some long rushing scores.
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