ECU Shuts Down Memphis

<P>Finally, I get to use a title that denotes good ECU defense. It took seven games to get here, but the Pirate D finally resembled that of the past two seasons. The numbers do not lie – Memphis amasses 231 yards, 11 first downs, & 11 points. Or maybe they are misleading, because the Pirate D was actually MORE impressive than those numbers indicate.

Memphis never entered the ECU red zone in the first half. Their points came on a short drive (a FG after taking over at ECU's 45) early after half time, and a touchdown against ECU reserves in the waning moments, the only sustained drive of the day. And making those statistics more impressive is the fact the Tigers never turned the ball over – they simply could not move it forward.

Offensively, ECU was a little less explosive, but much more efficient. Outside of the 45-yard TD strike to Richard Alston early in the 4th quarter, David Garrard used the short routes to exploit the Memphis defense. Leonard Henry used a more workmanlike effort (26 carries) to get his weekly quota of 132 yards, just under his season average of 135, and his sixth consecutive game over 100. And just like the previous week at Army, the offense never coughed the ball up.

On special teams, Jarad Preston keeps booming 43-45 yard punts, & Kevin Miller still has not missed inside 40 yards on a field goal, although poor blocking did end his perfect PAT mark after the Alston TD. And the ECU kickoff unit, ranked #2 nationally, didn't even have an opportunity until the second half.

So now we have a little time off before facing TCU on Tuesday, October 30th, so let us assess the CUSA league race. Right now, three is a crowd, as ECU, Cincinnati, and Louisville are still unbeaten. Cincinnati travels to Louisville next Saturday, ECU travels to Cincinnati on November 10th, and Louisville visits ECU on November 15th.

Sure, the other games are important for the bowl slots, but these three games will dictate who represents the conference in Memphis in December. All three teams have what the rest of the conference wants – control of its own destiny.

Rob Moye

Port City Pirate

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