Fearless Picks - East Carolina

Led by returning prediction champ Bill Gleason, our staff once again throws out bold (or not-so-bold) picks WVU's first game of the year.

Bill Gleason Last Week: - Season 0-0 Pick: WVU 51-20
The WVU coaching staff has been beating on this team physically and mentally since the first day of camp. Something tells me that if the coaches didn't believe in this team, they wouldn't be near as rough on the team. The expectations of the fans and the media pale in comparison to the expectations of the team and the coaching staff.

East Carolina, in their second year under John Thompson (not the one from Georgetown), are coming off a miserable 1-11 season in which they were outscored by an average of 36-18. The Pirates gave up at least 27 points in every single game last season, and Thompson has taken a personal interest in the defense, which is his specialty. Noah Brandise has been given the keys to the entire offense, and brings a spread offense that intends to throw the ball all over the lot. ECU also returns two rushers who have run for 1,000 yards in a season. ECU has talent. They have good coaches. They lack experience in key areas.

The Mountaineers won't be confused by an offense they face in practice every day. And ECU's weakness against the run doesn't bode well against a WVU team that has turned their spread offense into a devastating ground march with a few bombs to Chris Henry to keep the safeties honest. Rasheed Marshall will have the green light to run this season, and run he will. Only the new rule allowing the defense to get ready will keep WVU under 60.

Greg Hunter Last Week: - Season 0-0 Pick: WVU 42-17
Season openers always scare the bejesus coaches, because there are always unknowns, both for their team and their opponent. West Virginia will be playing a number of youngsters, especially on defense. They've looked good in practice, but how will they perform when the lights go on. As for East Carolina, they have a new offensive coordinator, Noah Brindise, who has been a disciple of Steve Spurrier's both at the University of Florida and the Washington Redskins. Brindise is installing his own version of the Gators' vaunted "Fun 'n Gun" offense, but exactly what WVU will see on Saturday is an unknown, and coaches hate unknowns. Still, the Mountaineers appear to hold a vast talent advantage, than though this game may not be quite as easy as many foresee, in the end WVU should win comfortably.
Andy Easton Last Week: - Season 0-0 Pick: WVU 38-10
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.
Cam Huffman Last Week: - Season 0-0 Pick: WVU 38-10
If West Virginia loses this one, the new Star City Bridge may become a launching pad for disgruntled fans. Everyone is sure that this one will be a blowout and the start of a special year for the Blue & Gold. The hype for the 2004 season has been enormous and the game against the Pirates has been considered little more than a glorified scrimmage for the Mountaineers. Everything is in place for a huge disappointment.

That being said, this will not be the day. West Virginia will throw Captain Hook and the rest of the Purple Pirates overboard. Rasheed Marshall will silence his many critics, at least for about 30 seconds, by throwing for over 150 yards and rushing for at least 50 more. Kay-Jay Harris and Jason Colson will combine for over 130 more on the ground and the defense will create at least one score on there own.

The Pirates may be improved, but they will need more than an eye patch and a hook to fight down the WVU offense. The parrot sitting on the mascot's shoulder will be singing "Country Roads" when it is all said and done.

Matt Keller Last Week: - Season 0-0 Pick: WVU 31-17
Second-year transitions are seldom smooth, and the instillation of coordinator Noah Brindise's knockoff Fun-N-Gun offense should hinder more than help early. Sophomore signalcaller James Pinkney was anointed starter because of his ability to throw downfield. First game jitters and trick plays, a secondary minus the Frazier-King ticket and a bend-don't-break defensive philosophy will have the Greenvillians tossing for solid yardage. Problem for the Pirates: Though mental mistakes happen early, talent and athletic ability are always there. This is Florida's coordinators and schemes minus Gator talent. The edge there, and ability to run, belongs to West Virginia, and thus does the win. Look for the Mountaineers to allow a big-play score, then settle into a rhythm on all fronts. It's closer than expected, gang.
Chris Richardson Last Week: - Season 0-0 Pick: WVU 48-7
An easy opener for the home team. That game will be out of reach by halftime, and WVU's substitutes will play the entire second half.

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