ECU football preview

Published 8:28 pm Thursday, November 15, 2018



East Carolina eliminated itself from postseason eligibility after falling, 24-18, down in New Orleans to Tulane (5-5, 4-2 AAC) last Saturday. The Pirates gave up three TDs of 70 yards or more and only scored in the red zone one time: a 46-yard field goal on their opening drive. ECU abandoned the run game, as quarterback Holton Ahlers attempted a career-high 61 passes and was the leading rusher for the sixth time this season, finishing with 16 attempts, some of those being scrambles. This left just ten rushes for the three running backs in the game.



  1. Can ECU exploit UConn’s injury woes at running back? The Huskies took another blow at the running back position, as Zavier Scott was ruled out for the remainder of the season on Wednesday after suffering a knee injury, joining Donevin O’Reilly (torn ACL) and Khyon Gillespie (torn ACL) on the injured list. That leaves UConn with just two running backs who have game experience. Although Scott was the primary backup to starter Kevin Mensah, Scott provided a receiving threat out of the backfield with 33 catches for 228 yards, to go along 210 rushing yards this season. Although Mensah has 863 rushing yards on the year, he isn’t as dynamic in the passing game like Scott, so ECU catches a break in an area they’ve struggled in this year: pass-catching running backs.


  1. Will the Pirates take advantage of the Huskies’ defense and special teams? While UConn’s offense isn’t too shabby (No. 50 in the nation), its defensive unit and special teams are another story. Despite scoring 50 points and putting up 583 yards of offense against Southern Methodist last week, the Huskies still lost after giving up 62 points and 594 yards, which is under the 623.6 yards UConn gives up on average per game. UConn has also lost scoring opportunities due to its special teams’ play. UConn head coach Randy Edsall called out his special teams unit this week, as he pointed out its poor play against SMU. The Huskies missed two field goals, had an extra-point attempt blocked, jumped offside on an onside kick and were called offside on a Mustang field-goal attempt that sailed wide. The penalty allowed SMU to convert a fourth and 1 for a TD.


  1. Does ECU deserve to be an 18-point favorite? ECU has many woes, just like UConn, and this home finale is no cakewalk. These two teams are at the bottom of the AAC for a reason: neither team can play its offensive and defensive units together well in unison for a full 60 minutes, both defenses give up huge plays, each offense has miscues for turnovers and often cannot complete long drives for points. This game last year came down to a field goal attempt at the end, and fans should expect another close game tomorrow. Despite the hype of Senior Day, I would be shocked to see the Pirates run away with this game. In fact, there’s a good chance ECU won’t be able to put together a full game to earn the win. Each team is looking for its first conference victory, and the Huskies also know this is a game they can win.