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Pirates to take on Wolfpack days after losing head coach

EAST CAROLINA (3-8, 1-7 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE) AT NC STATE (8-3, 5-3 ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE)

LAST TIME OUT ON THE FIELD

East Carolina played arguably its second worst game in history after it gave up 641 total yards to Cincinnati in a 56-6 blowout loss last Saturday. Florida State in 1982 is the only team to post more yards against the Pirates. The Bearcats went up 42-6 in the first half and the Pirates’ lone TD came on a broken play from the Cincinnati defense in which wide receiver Mydreon Vines caught his only pass of the game for a 71-yard catch-and-run score. Starting quarterback Holton Ahlers went down after just a few plays into the second half and he (7) and backup Reid Herring (3) combined to complete just 10 passes in the game, a season-low for the Pirates. Going into the third quarter, Cincinnati benched its starting quarterback Desmond Ridder after he accounted for four first-half scores. The Bearcats also didn’t play their starting running back Michael Warren II, who didn’t have an injury, because they didn’t have to. Two of Cincinnati’s backups rushed for more than 100 yards each in the game, while ECU didn’t look like it had any running backs on the field again.

THREE THINGS TO LOOK FOR

 

  1. How will the team react following the dismissal of head coach Scottie Montgomery? ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton announced today that Montgomery was relieved of his duties, effective immediately, and will not coach this weekend. Defensive coordinator David Blackwell will serve as head coach in the interim, and the firing will save Montgomery from three consecutive 3-9 seasons. With the third game versus an in-state opponent approaching and no bowl eligibility within reach, ECU has nothing to lose in the game. A lot of the players consistently spoke of their belief in Montgomery and said they played the same whether his job was on the line or not, so this weekend is a toss up as far as what it will come down to. The entire locker room was not on his side however, as offensive lineman Garrett McGhin clearly stated his frustration a few weeks ago, saying he wasn’t concerned about Montgomery’s job security because of the coach’s previous success and ability to still support himself and his family. While players like McGhin still played hard regardless, a new energy could emerge from players who were frustrated with the situation and bring new life into the season finale.

 

  1. Can Nate Harvey add to his accolades by breaking the all-time ECU sack record? Yesterday, defensive end Nate Harvey was named the American Athletic Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, bringing home the honor to ECU for the first time in history. The award was well deserved, as Harvey leads the nation in total tackles for loss (24), solo TFLs (22) and TFLs per game (2.18). Harvey also ranks among the top-five in the nation in sacks per game (second/1.23), TFL yards (second/-115) and total sacks (third/13.5). The former fullback has already broken ECU’s single-season record for TFLs when he shattered Chris Moore’s mark of 21 in the home finale against Connecticut. In the same game Harvey broke the AAC’s TFL record, formerly held by Houston’s Ed Oliver (23), and has added one more since. Harvey is just 1.5 sacks short of ECU’s single-season record of 15.0 (Rod Coleman/1997) and one shy of the AAC record of 14.5 set by Louisville’s Marcus Smith in 2013.

 

  1. Will walk-on freshman Tyler Snead play or sit to retain his redshirt eligibility? Snead made his season debut on Nov. 3 at home against Memphis and has played four straight games, including his first career start on Nov. 17 at home against Connecticut and another start the next week against Cincinnati. He scored three TDs against the Huskies, bolstering the eventual blowout victory. In that span he has 236 yards on 15 catches with four TDs. Before Montgomery was fired today, he announced on Monday in his weekly press conference that he would play Snead in the season finale, which would burn the freshman’s redshirt. However, now that Montgomery is out prior to the final game, the question remains whether Blackwell will still put Snead in the lineup. With another lost season from the Pirates, what good does it do to waste a year of Snead’s eligibility on what is essentially a throwaway game?