Fearless Picks - ECU

It's another easy week for our group before things get tougher in October

Bill Gleason Last Week: W Season 3-0
As Keller solidifies his position as the southern end of a north bound train, the Mountaineers prepare to dispatch the East Carolina Pirates. This one doesn't look too hard to predict. The 9th ranked rushing offense in the country, versus the worst rushing defense in the country. Add to that the Mountaineers' ranking as the 3rd best overall defense in the land, and you have the makings of a good ole fashioned butt whoopin'. (props to Marty Brenneman)

Jason Gwaltney is starting to assert himself in practice and on the field, and with Owen Schmitt, Coach Rod might just have found a two back combination he can rely upon. Expect to see more of this duo this week as WVU will look to put the Pirates away early. They will, and JR House will play in front of the home folks for the second time.

Pick: WVU 45-13
 
Andy Easton Last Week: W Season 3-0
Skip Holtz will not have the same success against the 2005 version of the Mountaineers as his famous father did against WVU in the 1988 National Championship game. WVU running backs will rack up over 300 yards rushing and have the Pirate fans looking for the nearest plank.
Pick: WVU 41-17
 
Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season 3-0
If you were a team called the Pirates, why would you schedule games this far north? Seriously...the karma hasn't been good since around 1992 when the Pittsburgh Pirates won the National League East before losing to the Braves in the NLCS. That was thirteen years, and 12 Barry Bonds hat-sizes ago. The closest these Pirates will ever come to winning in Morgantown was in 1996 when Charles Emmanuel batted down an ECU two-point conversion attempt to preserve the Mountaineer victory 10-9. Besides all that, the Mountaineers are much more talented than the Greenville gang, so hopes of a Pirate upset should be checked at the door.

Of course that won't stop Matt Keller from dressing up in his purple and gold on Saturday. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised to see him marching around dressed up as "Pee Dee" the Pirate mascot. Too bad for Keller that we're still a month from Halloween.

There's not a whole lot to say about this one. I think it will be close for the first half, but in the second half Jason Gwaltney will prove to be way too much for the porous purple and gold rush defense. The "Long Island Express" has his first 100-yard rushing day, and the Mountaineers needn't attempt more than the 11 passes they threw against Maryland.

Pirate quarterback James Pinckney will have some success, but those protecting him will not. The home team will be too strong in this one, and will roll into next Saturday's showdown with the Hokies with a perfect 4-0 record.

Pick: WVU 41-17
 
Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season 3-0
ECU fielded some strong teams in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but it was 7-28 the past three seasons. Skip Holtz may return the Pirates to past glory in time, but right now West Virginia is simply a more talented team.
Pick: WVU 35-14
 
Cam Huffman Last Week: W Season 3-0
If it were 22 Mountaineer fans heading onto the field this week to challenge the Pirates, I would have to go with ECU. Fortunately, I don't think Coach Rod will let his team make the same mistake that the WVU faithful are making by looking ahead to Virginia Tech. East Carolina is no powerhouse, but they are playing better football this year, and if the home team is not ready to play a shocker could be in the works.

But a sold out Mountaineer Field should help keep West Virginia focused on the task at hand and allow the men in gold and blue to mike the Pirates walk the plank. Look for at least two touchdowns from Pat White — one in the air and one on the ground — and two forced turnovers from the Mountaineer defense. This one will be about as close as a three-point shooting contest between Kevin Pittsnogle and Kevin Kinder.

Pick: WVU 34-10
 
Jane Donovan Last Week: W Season 3-0
This is Fall Family Weekend at WVU, and everybody's favorite TV father, Bill Cosby, is doing 2 sold out standup shows at the CAC Friday night to get us ready for some football. With Cos in town, there's only one possible prediction for this game: There's always room for Jalloh! You rock, Dorrell.

I haven't enjoyed smashmouth football this much since John Riggins quit drinking. Movie Star Mike Lorello continues his clinic on tackling technique, Marc Magro makes the hometown crowd proud, and Ernie Hunter reminds us that Owen Schmidt isn't the only graduate of Lake Braddock HS in Springfield VA to grace the gold and blue. If Jay Henry were healthy, the D would throw a shutout.

Pick: WVU 35-7
 
Chuck McGill Last Week: W Season 3-0
Okay, so the Mountaineer defense is legit. Save for a momentary lapse in the fourth quarter against Maryland, this defensive unit has been the most impressive in the Rich Rodriguez era.. Its strength lies in its rush defense, which swarms and tackles with the best of them. But is the pass defense up to snuff?

ECU will throw it around, as it demonstrated against Wake Forest last week (45 attempts). WVU faced a less-than-stellar Perry Patterson (Syracuse), and an option-oriented team in Wofford before meeting up with Maryland. The Terps' seemingly incapable quarterback again made the pass defense look better than it really is. It's good, just not THAT good.

However, the "bend-but-don't-break" system isn't a cause for concern this week, as the Mountaineer offense will continue to kick it up a notch once again. A few big plays by the Pirates will keep this one interesting heading into the fourth frame.

Pick: WVU 34-21
 
Matt Keller Last Week: L Season 1-2
This is a much improved East Carolina team that might hearken memories of former head coach Steve Logan's "surprise squads" that always utilized chicanery in playing WVU well. Current mentor Skip Holtz will likely play a more conservative style, but will need major help from quarterback James Pickney and speedy receiver Aundrae Allison to offset a major running deficiency.

Couple that with West Virginia's rush-stuffing stack and its more skilled offense, and this one's easy to call: The Mountaineers win going away. The lone question is if next week the prediction bunch has enough guts to stay with the Mountaineers. That bullheadedness cost them last year -- and me this year -- and it could do so again.

Pick: WVU 38-20

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