East Carolina Pirates College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season
East Carolina Pirates Biggest Key: Offense
Convert on third downs, and it starts with protecting the backfield. The Pirate offense had its explosive moments and it should be as good as it’s been in years, but the veteran offensive front needs to give everyone more time. ECU allowed 23 sacks and 64 tackles in the nine games, and the pressure allowed was a problem at keeping things moving.
The Pirates only converted 33% of their third down tries – the program hasn’t been over 40% for a season since 2017. There’s no excuse for this veteran group to not be around 45%.
East Carolina Pirates Biggest Key: Defense
Stop the run, stop the run, stop the run. The Pirates need to be able to control games on a more consistent basis – going back to the offense’s issues on third downs – and that starts with stopping teams from running wild.
East Carolina allowed over 200 rushing yards five times last season and lost all five. It was 0-6 when giving up 175 yards or more, and 3-0 when it didn’t. After shocking North Carolina early in 2018, the Pirates have lost 21 straight when giving up 150 yards or more.
East Carolina Pirates Key Player To A Successful Season
OT Walter Stribling, Fr.
He’s technically still a freshman in terms of eligibility, but he was a starter at left tackle last season. He’s only 252 pounds, but he’s 6-6 and has the size and frame to go along with his quickness as a key part of the line.
There’s enough bulk on the rest of the front five to make up for his lack of mass, but he needs to grow into a star on the outside to help the cause of keeping everyone out of the Pirate backfield.
East Carolina Pirates Key Game To The 2021 Season
Appalachian State, Sept. 2
Old Dominion in 2013. That was the last time East Carolina won a season opener over an FBS team, and 2016 against Western Carolina was the last time it won the first game of the year.
This time the opener is in Charlotte against a loaded Sun Belt team, and it needs to be when the program shows that it’s ready to make a big step forward. With South Carolina and at Marshall up next, the Pirates need this or it could be a rough start before facing Charleston Southern.
2020 East Carolina Pirates Fun Stats
– Punt Return Average: East Carolina 14.6 – Opponents 7.0
– 3rd Quarter Scoring: Opponents 79 – East Carolina 27
– Penalties: Opponents 85 for 774 yards – East Carolina 57 for 524 yards