ECU-West Virginia Overview

Despite Steve Logan's rhetoric about non-conference games, Saturday's contest with West Virginia game is critical if East Carolina has plans on redeeming this season. Sure, even with a loss the Pirates will still be 1-0 in Conference USA play, but psychologically this young team may be done for.

Taking a cursory glance at the Pirates-Mountaineers match-up leads this observer to the opinion that a Pirate win will be hard to come by, even though WVU is not as strong as in years past. West Virginia (2-1) has an advantage over ECU in the quality of opponent thus far this year. The Mounties have already played 16th ranked Wisconsin (a 34-17 loss) and surprisingly strong Cincinnati (a 35-32 win). By contrast, the Pirates lost to 1-3 Duke and 2-2 Wake Forest.

No doubt that West Virginia will test ECU's defense behind the running of Avon Cobourne. The senior running back gained 1359 yards on 267 carries (5.1-yard average) in 2001 and has already chalked up two 100+ yard game enroute to 393 total rushing yards on 68 attempts (5.8-yard average) with 5 touchdowns.

East Carolina will try and counter with a resurgent rushing game of its own. The Pirates' Art Brown also has carried the ball a total of 68 times this year and has amassed 337 yards (5-yard per average) and 4 touchdowns.

Overall, West Virginia's offense has been impressively balanced, racking up an average of 494 yards per game - 282 yards on the ground, 212 through the air. Quarterback Rasheed Marshall has completed 57.3 % of his passes (47 of 82) including 4 TDs and no interceptions.

ECU's offense has not been so productive. Led by first year starter Paul Troth, the Pirates have stumbled through its first 3 games averaging only 289 total yards per game (124 yards rushing, 165 yards passing) and committing nine turnovers.

Should the Pirates prevail on Saturday, great things are still possible for this season, maybe even an 8-3 finish. A loss may prove disastrous and lead to the Pirates' first sub-500 year since 1997.

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