When: 9/4, 6:00pm
Stadium: Mountaineer Field
Last Week: n/a
Returning Starters: 16
Last Week: n/a
Returning Starters: 12
Last Meeting: 2003
Common Opponents to Date: N/a
WVU - Bryan Wright (Knee) Out , Adam Lehnortt (Shoulder) Probable, Chris Henry (Ankle) Probable, Chris Basser Out, Erick Phillips (Knee) Out
East Carolina- None reported
WVU 0-0, 0-0
ECU 0-0, 0-0
Sat: 9/4 6:00 pm
Series: WVU leads 13-2
Sagarin: WVU-42 ECU-94
Line: WVU -27
Stats & Trends
This match up will be a key for the Pirates if they hope to pull off an upset over the highly ranked Mountaineers. In last year's game the Blue and Gold offense ran at will against the porous ECU defense, racking up 361 yards rushing and 555 total yards in a 48-7 victory.
The Pirates return fourteen players on their two deep roster that saw action during the 2003 season, with three freshman, four transfers and one first-year player added to the mix.
Manning the defensive front for the Pirates will be a two solid veterans along with two inexperienced newcomers. Sophomore Dontre Brown (6-1, 287) looks to improve on last season total of 19 tackles in 12 games played while junior Richard Koonce (6-0, 237) is poised for a breakout season after solid freshman and sophomore campaigns. Koonce totaled 48 tackles, one sack and two interceptions during his second season at the defensive end position.
The two questions marks entering the season on the defensive line have to be Shauntee Hunt (6-5, 268) and Michael MacDonagh (6-3, 249). Hunt, a junior from Warrenton, N.C., played in 10 games last season but was hampered by injuries and never really got on track. MacDonagh, a walk-on transfer from Wayne State, enters his first season as starter after impressive spring and fall camps.
Comprising the linebacking corps will be a trio of solid players. Jamar Flournoy (6-0, 205) is a transfer from Hutchinson Community College where he was rated the fifth-best junior college safety by CollegeFootballNews.com. The junior, who will start at weak side linebacker, finished fourth in the Jayhawk Conference with 102 tackles in 10 games last season. Opposite of Flournoy at strong side linebacker will be Dashaun Stephens (5-11, 233). Stephens tallied 30 tackles, including 21 solo stops, in 11 games as a sophomore. Anchoring the group will be ECU's best defensive player, Chris Moore (6-1, 228). Moore finished last season with 148 tackles, one sack, and 13 stops behind the line of scrimmage. The third year starter was selected as a second-team All-Conference USA and named as an honorable mention on the 2003 SI.com All-America Team.
The starting defensive backfield will encounter their "tallest" challenge of the season against WVU's rangy wide receivers, considering that the Pirates' starting cornerbacks are both under six feet tall. Donald Whitehead (5-10, 179) will man one cornerback spot while Erode Jean (5-9, 177) covers the other side. Whitehead, a senior with three years of playing experience under his belt, has been plagued with injuries for most of his career. The Battleboro, N.C. native totaled 20 tackles and two pass breakups during limited playing time last season. Jean, a Conference USA All-Freshman pick last season, recorded 50 tackles and two interceptions during his first season with the Pirates.
Covering the safety positions will be Zack Baker (6-2, 208) and Kyle Chase (5-8, 195). Baker, a hard-hitting transfer from Pima Community College, was a two-time All-Western States Football League selection and honorable mention junior college All-American for the Aztecs. Chase is coming off a solid freshman season, recording 21 tackles, two sacks and one interception.
In 2003, WVU ranked 72th in total offense (368.92 yds/game), 13th in rushing offense (212.46 yds/game) and 105th in passing offense (156.46 yds/game).
In 2003, East Carolina ranked 84th in total defense (409.58 yds/game), 105th in rushing defense (209.92 yds/game) and 111th in passing efficiency defense (149.73 rating).
WVU defense vs. Pirate offense
This season ECU head coach John Thompson has brought in ex-Florida Gator quarterback Noah Brindise to oversee their new "Fun 'N' Gun" offense, similar to the offense used by Steve Spurrier during his Florida days. This offense should give members of Conference USA fits but the chances that the offense will not be running smoothly in the first week of the season against the Mountaineers.
Leading the Pirate offense will be James Pickney (6-3, 209), a strong-armed sophomore quarterback. Pickney, who started three games last season, completed 43 out of 87 passes for 422 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions a year ago. Backing up Pickney will be Desmond Robinson (5-10, 201). Robinson played in nine game in 2003, completing 66.2% of his passes for more than 1200 yards.
Pickney will be handing the ball off to a pair of 1000-yard backs. Marvin Townes (6-0, 200) was named All-Conference USA second team in 2003, totaling 1128 yards rushing and 176 yards receiving. Backing up Townes will be 2002 starter Art Brown (5-9, 203) who missed the entire 2003 season with a knee injury. In 2002, Brown rushed for 1029 yards, was second team All-Conference USA and was ranked sixth in the nation in scoring (10.4) as he scored 17 touchdowns in 10 games.
Making the holes for the 1000-yard tandem will be fullback Jermarcus Veal (6-1, 241). Veal, a converted linebacker, will be seeing his first full season of action of offense.
The Pirate wide receivers will have to prove themselves on the field this season. Both starters and their backups totalled only 23 receptions last season. Edwin Rios (5-8 169) leads the returning receivers from a year ago with 10 receptions for 48 yards. Brian Howard (6-2, 170), a speedy sophomore, had nine receptions in seven games in 2003 and will be looked to for more productivity in 2004. Damarcus Fox (5-8, 179), a member a ECU's 4x100 track team, is the Pirates' main deep threat. Fox averaged 21.8 yards per reception last season including a 65-yard touchdown. Bobby Good (6-1, 186) rounds out the top four Pirate receivers. Good is a walk-on who will see significant playing time during his sophomore season.
Starting at tight end will be Shawn Levesque (6-4, 242). Levesque is a transfer from Kilgore College who earned Junior college preseason All-America honorable mention for the Rangers.
Forming ECU's offensive line will be an inexperienced set of blockers. All five first teamers have a combined total of six Div-1A starts. Left tackle Eric Graham (6-6, 312) saw action in three games last season, while right tackle Chris Sellers (6-2, 296) transferred from New Mexico Military Institute and will be seeing his first game action. Starting center Hunter Wood (6-3, 283) has been thrust into action with the departure of All Conference selection Doug White. Wood is a junior that has never started a game at the Div-1A level. The most experienced position on the offensive line is at guard, where leftsider Hagen Mason (6-1, 284) will be making his fifth collegiate start after a solid junior season. Gary Freeman (6-1, 331) will be making his third start after serving in a reserve role last season.
By the numbers:
In 2003, WVU ranked 74th in total defense (391.31 yds/game), 34th in rushing defense (131.46 yds/game) and 45th in passing efficiency defense (120.69).
In 2003, East Carolina ranked 104th in total offense (311.25 yds/game), 71st in rushing offense (138.33 yds/game) and 97th in passing (172.92 yds/game).
WVU special teams vs. Pirate special teams
With exception of the punting squad, the Pirate special teams struggled through much of the 2003 season, but with some new faces on the return teams and experience in the kicking game, ECU looks to improve upon last season's fortunes.
Entering his second season as the starting punter will be sophomore Ryan Dougherty (6-1, 212). Last season Dougherty averaged an impressive 44.5 yards per punt as a freshman with 15 of the 64 punts being place inside the 20 yard line. Handling the place kicking duties will be senior Cameron Broadwell (6-3, 191). The strong legged Broadwell was 12-18 last season including 9-11 from inside of 40 yards. He also converted 23 of his 25 extra point attempts.
Returning punts and kicks this season for the Pirates will be Demetrius Hodges (5-9, 191) and Chris Johnson (5-11,170), respectively. Hodges played at Georgia Military Academy where he excelled at cornerback and was clocked at 4.5 in the 40. Johnson, a speedy freshman from Orlando Florida, was ranked as one of the top 100 players in Florida last year. Among his honors was an All-Orange County selection and MVP selection in the Orange County All-Star Game. Look for at least one long return from Johnson this Saturday.
By the numbers:
In 2003, WVU ranked 83rd in net punting (34.28 yds/punt), 18th in kick returns (13.35 yds/return) and 11th in punt returns (13.35 yds/return).
In 2003, East Carolina ranked 7th in net punting (40.60 yds/punt), 89th in kick returns (18.78 yds/return) and 117th in punt returns (4.59 yds/return)
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On Offense: Chris Henry
On Defense: Pac Man Jones
* East Carolina has 42 players from the Old North State.
* East Carolina University was originally known as East Carolina Teachers Training School.
* The last time ECU finished the season ranked in the AP poll was 1991 (11-1).
* The Pirates are 14-26 versus current Big East teams.
* East Carolina's bowl record is an impressive 6-3.
Be sure to check out our Stats & Trends section for lots more match up information!
The rebuilding Pirates sail into Morgantown coming off a disappointing 1-11 campaign in 2003, including a 41-point defeat at the hands of WVU. ECU brings its Fun-N-Gun offense to Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium with thoughts of upsetting the 10th ranked Mountaineers.
On the other side of the field, the Mountaineers will try to live up to lofty preseason expectations with an impressive victory on Saturday.
The Blue and Gold will be too much for the upstart Pirates on this day with the outcome being decided by the end of the first half.
WVU - 38 ECU - 10