College Football News Preview 2020: East Carolina Pirates Keys To The Season
Biggest Key To The East Carolina Pirates Offense
Start using the ground game. This is going to be a pass-happy offense with Holton Ahlers to go along with the good receiving corps, but there’s a nice group of backs to work around, too.
The Pirates weren’t miserable on the ground – they finished with close to 1,700 yards with 12 touchdowns – but they only averaged 3.8 yards per carry and never got over 170 yards against any FBS team.
Of those 12 scores, five came against Gardner-Webb, three came against a pathetic UConn D, and two – stunningly – game against UCF. There were just two rushing scores in the other nine games.
2014 was the last time the program hit the 2,000-yard rushing mark. There’s no real excuse not to get there this year.
Biggest Key To The East Carolina Pirates Defense
It’s nice when the offense is rolling, but it doesn’t do much if the other side of the ball is getting steamrolled over.
Yeah, ECU’s passing game was fantastic over the second half of the season, but the run defense got hammered for 300 rushing yards or more in three of the last five games, and SMU ran for 222 yards.
The team won four games – all against miserable teams – but the run D allowed fewer than 130 yards in all four, and was 0-8 when allowing more.
Since shocking North Carolina early in 2018, ECU is 0-15 when allowing more than 130 rushing yards.
Key East Carolina Pirates Player To A Successful Season
DE Emmanuel Hickman, RFr.
And throw in Hozey Hadri-Badri, too. The defensive tackles have to become factors right out of the gate. Last year’s group was okay at times, but there were too many problems when steadily pounded on.
Hadri-Badri is only around 275 pounds, and the 266-pound Hickman doesn’t bring a whole lot of bulk, but these two are quick. The Pirates need a star on the inside, and after getting a few reps under his belt, it would be huge if it’s Hickman.
Key Game To The East Carolina Pirates Season
Marshall, Sept. 5
You’re an American Athletic Conference team, East Carolina. You’re supposed to thumb your nose at the Conference USA types, and that includes a terrific-looking Marshall team that’s good enough to win the season-opener in Greenville.
The two haven’t played since 2013 – a 59-28 Thundering Herd win – but the classic was the all-timer of a GMAC Bowl in 2001. But Marshall won that, too, 64-61. This year, with at South Carolina up next and UCF coming up a few weeks later, a 1-3 start is almost certain if the Pirates can’t pull this off.
– East Carolina Pirates Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2019 East Carolina Fun Stats
– Field Goals: East Carolina 24-of-29 – Opponents 10-of-11
– 4th Down Conversions: Opponents 13-of-23 – East Carolina 3-of-7
– Penalties: Opponents 101 for 889 yards – East Carolina 71 for 615 yards