Preview and Prediction WVU Plays Host to East Carolina
A quick last look at WVU vs. ECU
This Saturday at 12 noon, Head Coach Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers will play host to the East Carolina University Pirates led by Head Coach Scottie Montgomery.
The Pirates have gained a reputation over the last ten years of being an “FBS Killer” or “kryptonite for Power five schools.” This year does not look to be one of those dangerous teams for the ECU Pirates.
Like WVU the Pirates dropped their first game of the season, only their loss involved using two different quarterbacks. The Pirates fell 34-14 to James Madison University. ECU allowed 614 yards of total offense last Saturday, 410 of those yards were on the ground, if that gives you an idea of how offensive Coordinator Jake Spavital will plan for this game.
First quarter: Will Grier’s first quarter struggles from last week become a thing of the past. Spavital actually gives Justin Crawford the ball in the Mountaineers opening possesion, and WVU will capitalize off of an early balanced attack. Look for Grier and the receivers to connect on short and intermediate routes early on in order to get Grier in a rhythm, and give the Mountaineers a chance to hang on to the ball. Overall the first quarter will be dominated by the Mountaineer offense and specifically running back Justin Crawford.
Second Quarter: In the second quarter you will see a better defense than the one that left FedEx. Defensive Coordinator Tony Gibson was asked about the missed tackles in the second half of the game, and if it was due to fatigue and was he concerned? Gibby said simply:
“That and a little bit of effort as well. Assuming someone is going to tackle them before they get there and slowing down.”
Assuming that some of those missed tackles were effort based, you can expect the Mountaineer defense to even score some points in this game. Last week ECU’s starting quarterback Thomas Sirk threw two interceptions, and with Gibby’s 3-3-5 base defense expect for WVU Corners like Mike Daniels coming off of a good game to, jump routes and be opportunistic.
The offense in the second quarter you will see the ongoing experiment of Kennedy McKoy playing in the slot, and catching passes. McKoy appeared in the slot as well as Freshman running back Tevin Bush a few times throughout the game, but if the Mountaineers get ahead early look for the experiment to be in full effect. This will also be the first time we see Wide Receiver Marcus Simms coming off of a one game suspension. Expect Sims to add speed on the inside with Gary Jennings Jr.
Third Quarter: The Mountaineers will continue to capitalize on the Pirates lack of a run game, as you begin to see the running back carousel begin led by Crawford of course. But expect for McKoy, Bush, and Sophomore Martell Pettaway to get more touches than they did in Week one.
On defense in the second half expect to see a rotation of players. Gibson said that the Mountaineers used six defensive linemen, five linebackers, four safeties, and three corners. With guys like Senior linebackers Xavier Preston and Al-Rasheed Benton playing above 80 snaps in game one of the season, is a bit much. Especially when you want to establish depth, and this will be Gibby’s chance to do that.
Fourth Quarter: The Mountaineers should be establishing their depth on both sides of the ball at this point. With the struggles ECU had on offense last week compared to WVU, the Mountaineers should be able to experiment with their reserves around this time. Holgorsen has not been satisfied with the play of his backup receivers, so look for them to get a chance to prove him wrong, and show that they are capable. There will be a few new names that pop up this week on offense and defense, after playing 55 guys last week. It will not be a dramtic increase in players played, but look for youngs guys to try and fit in and create a role for themselves. Players like linebacker Brendan Ferns and Cornerback Corey Winfield.
Just as mentioned earlier this is not the ECU Pirates team of years past, look for the Mountaineers to have a much better day compared to last sunday versus Virginia Tech.
Players to Watch for ECU: Quarterback Thomas Sirk. Quarterback Gardner Minshew, Wide Receiver Davon Grayson, linebacker Jordan Williams.