On Saturday, ECU lost to the Bulls of South Florida 38-22. In this article we evaluate our four key takeaway points from the game.
The first takeaway is the continued struggles on offense despite having good numbers on paper. Exhibit A is Isaiah Jones. Jones recorded 18 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown. James Summers also had a decent afternoon; rushing for 114 yards and a touchdown as well. However, ECU only managed two field goals in the first half, and went into the locker room down 17-6.
The second takeaway regards the health of ECU starting quarterback Philip Nelson. Nelson was sidelined for the second consecutive week after taking a monster hit in the third quarter. This begs the question of how healthy is Philip Nelson, really? Even before Nelson was sidelined, his passes seemed to lack touch, and he missed throws that he normally considers "chip shots". Any more of these hits, and Nelson could be done for the season.
The third takeaway is opening conference play with a loss. ECU has now lost four consecutive games and Saturday's defeat put them at 0-1 in conference play. This Thursday, ECU faces Navy, who is also in the AAC. Navy, and recently beat a ranked Houston team. It will prove to be a huge challenge for ECU and could potentially give the Pirates their second conference loss, which will all but stymie bowl game aspirations.
The fourth takeaway is the performance of Gardner Minshew, and the possibility he will have to takeover for a banged up Nelson. The biggest concern in regards to Minshew is his consistency, but that will improve with game experience. At any rate, Minshew's first career touchdown pass came two weeks ago against Virginia Tech. The ensuing drive, he threw an interception that the Hokies returned for a touchdown. This week, Minshew was mounting a serious fourth quarter comeback. He finished with 220 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Not a bad day at all for a young quarterback, however, he still looks shaky, and needs to mature at the position.