24-hour rule for ECU

The 24-hour rule is in full swing after the loss to Virginia Tech. Inside ECU Sports has the scoop on what Saturday's loss taught us about this year's team.

East Carolina football lost its first game of the season, Saturday September 14, when the Virginia Tech Hokies came into a noisy Dowdy-Ficklen and escaped by a narrow margin. The final result was a 15-10 win for Virginia Tech and a disappointment for the ECU sideline.

Perhaps the biggest storyline of the game was the three turnovers (interceptions) thrown by ECU quarterback Shane Carden. While it's alarming when any quarterback throws three interceptions, Carden should return with a sharp performance against the UNC Tarheels in two weeks.

What we did learn about the Pirates from their lost to Virginia Tech is that even without Jeremy Grove and Kyle Tudor the linebacking unit has the depth to stop the run against top talent.

While the offense was obviously off Saturday, it's important to notice how impressive the defense performed against an ACC running attack. The Pirates held the Hokies to just 53 yards on the ground for the entire game.

The linebacking corps fed off of a defensive front that got a push on close to every down. Junior inside linebacker Brandon Williams and senior outside linebacker Derrell Johnson led both teams with 12 total tackles and sophomore defensive end Terell Stanley had the only solo sack for the Pirates.

ECU defensive coordinator Rick Smith earned his first top ten ranking of 2013. Through three games, the Pirate defense ranks No. 9 nationally in both run defense and sacks – all of this without the leading tackler from last season (Jeremy Grove).

Grove and Tudor's absence gave junior linebacker Zeek Bigger center stage and he performed for the team finishing with nine tackles (one for loss). Junior outside linebacker Montese Overton showed his 4.4 (40-yard dash) speed terrorizing Logan Thomas and leading the defense in pass break-ups.

However, Overton did drop a big interception that would have put ECU up 17-13 late in the game, common theme for both teams.

ECU lost to a beatable ACC team, sure, but if the 24-hour rule is in effect and Lincoln Riley's offense can write the loss off as him losing to a Budd Foster defense which makes adjustments, UNC Chapel Hill could have a fight on its hands.

The Pirates have no choice but to put Saturday's loss behind them because a noisy crowd at Kenan Stadium (UNC Chapel Hill) will be a hostile environment to step back into. Barring another offensive implosion, ECU's defense proved it's ready to battle two more ACC running attacks in 2013.

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