On Oct. 22, the East Carolina takes on the Cincinnati in an AAC battle. This match up marks the mid-way point for the Pirates in their AAC schedule. The Pirates will be coming off a prime time game against Navy at home and look to redeem themselves from last year's loss to Cincinnati.
Last year, the Pirates hosted the Bearcats and ECU lost 19-16 in the final seconds. ECU jumped out to a 10-point lead behind a field goal from David Plowman and a touchdown pass from Blake Kemp to Davon Grayson. The Bearcats answered back with 16 points and held ECU scoreless until the 4th quarter. After a passing touchdown from James Summers to Bryce Williams tying the game up at 16-16, Cincinnati kicked the game winning field goal.
ECU struggled to run the ball last year and and also had trouble defending the Bearcats' ground game. The Pirates have focused on improving in all the areas they lacked in the previous year. This year experience is on ECU's side. There will be a committee at running back where the top three returners Anthony Scott, Shawn Furlow, and Devin Anderson. The same goes for the defense with a solid linebacker corp returning, so the run defense should be much-improved
After finishing third in the conference last year, not much has changed when it comes to Cincinnati's roster. Hayden Moore, who was backup from last year, will step into the starting position for the Bearcats. Also, two of Cincinnati's top three rushers return for the 2016 campaign. Mike Boone and Tion Green both racked up yards on the ground in 2015 for the Bearcats. Both running backs had over 700 rushing yards and 17 combined touchdowns. Cincinnati ended the year with a 42-7 loss to San Diego State in the Hawaii Bowl.
As long as ECU sticks to the basics and plays efficient football, the chances of getting a victory are high. The Pirates will have to take advantage of their strengths and attack the Bearcats young defensive line this year.