The loss of excellent tailback Art Brown for the season was a big blow to the Pirates, but it still doesn't fully explain their woeful rushing performance against Cincinnati.
The Bearcats held ECU to a paltry 57 yards rushing, which worked out to an anemic 1.8 yards per carry.
While the loss of Brown to a knee injury certainly contributed to that stat, it also points up the failures of a senior-dominated offensive line to do much of anything. Four of East Carolina's five starting linemen are seniors, and the fourth is a junior. There's also experienced depth, with a senior and a junior serving as backups.
All that should make for an interesting confrontation this week, as ECU's humbled line tries to redeem itself against West Virginia's swarming defense.
POINT OF NO RETURNS
Despite having six chances to make something happen in the kickoff return game, the Pirates failed to muster much of anything against Cincinnati. ECU's longest kickoff return was a pedestrian 18 yards, and they averaged only 15.7 for the entire contest.
Of course, West Virginia broke a big one against Wisconsin on Adam Jones' big 81-yarder, so that appears to be a matchup where the Mountaineers can make up some of the "hidden yardage" that is so important.
A number of team and personal records are hovering around the .500 mark as WVU heads for their first road trip of the season.
|WVU 0-0, 0-1
ECU 0-1, 0-1
|Sat: 9/6 7:00 pm|
|Series: WVU 12-2|
|Sagarin: WVU-62 ECU-84|
|Stats & Trends|
SHORT WEEK WOES?
Much has been made of the fact that the Pirates are on a short week of preparation for the game, but that hasn't been a significant factor either way for ECU teams of the past. The Pirates are 4-3 in games where they had less than a week's worth of preparation in the last ten years.
GETTING THE BOOT
OK, so we're all tired of talking about the punting game. The fact remains that it's an important part of football, and it's the one place that East Carolina has a decided advantage.
Punter Ryan Dougherty averaged 45.2 yards per kick last week, and with WVU's punting game again questionable, ECU hopes to grab a field position advantage on punt exchanges.
A subplot to all this is how the Pirates will defend WVU's rollout punts. Will they line up more than one defender in the slot and try to meet Todd James at the point were he punts the ball? Will one of the defenders covering the bullets come off and blitz?
There's no doubt that Thompson, a defensive-minded coach, has been working on this during his limited preparation time.
CONSISTENCY IN JEOPARDY
The Pirates have never had a losing record in Conference USA, but that string might be tough to maintain after last week's 40-3 pasting at the hands of Cincinnati. ECU has been a member of CUSA for seven years.