Teams & Conferences

2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 95 East Carolina Pirates

2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 95 East Carolina Pirates

The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the East Carolina Pirates

Contact @PeteFiutak

2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 95 East Carolina

The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the East Carolina

Contact @PeteFiutak

No. 95: East Carolina Pirates

East Carolina Prespring Status

Everything looked so good after beating NC State on the way to a 2-0 start, but the defense died, the turnovers didn’t stop, and the Pirates went 1-9 the rest of the way. Head coach Scottie Montgomery will get plenty of time to turn East Carolina into an American Athletic power, but the team needs to look and play far better and be far more competitive. This year, they’ve got to look like something big is around the corner.

This spring will be all about improving the defense and restocking the playmakers on offense. Montgomery – a former wide receivers coach at Duke – showed he could get massive things out of a passing attack, but the D that allowed 31 points or more in eight of the last nine games has to be far, far stronger against the run.

East Carolina Pirates Biggest Issue

How do you replace Zay Jones? QB Gardner Minshew got a little bit of experience with Philip Nelson knocked out for stretches, but he won’t have the team’s main man to rely on. Quay Johnson is back after finishing second on the team in catches, but four of the top six wide receivers are gone including second-leading man in receiving yards, Jimmy Williams, along with Jones, who came up with a record-setting 158 catches for 1,746 yards and eight scores. No matter how much experience returns, that’s a whole lot of production to replace.

East Carolina Pirates Biggest Positive

The offensive line should be a plus – at least it’ll be experienced. Most of the top skill spots might need work, but four of the top five blockers are back up front only losing center J.T. Boyd. A few backups are gone, but there’s hope for the starting five that needs to be a whole lot stronger for the ground game that averaged under four yards per carry, and the pass protection that allowed 31 sacks.

Really, Why Are The East Carolina Pirates Ranked Here?

The Pirates lose way too much to assume they’ll find a way to become far better and far stronger. Not only do they lose Jones, but they lose top rusher James Summers, both kickers, and three of the top four tacklers. Montgomery is a promising head coach, and his system should keep the passing game going, but the D has to be a whole lot better and the O far more balanced.