WVU - ECU Game Preview

The Mountaineers take their high-powered offense and #4 ranking on the road as they visit the upset-minded East Carolina Pirates.






BlueGoldNews.com Game Scorecard
Series: 15-2-0
Sat 9/23 4:30 pm
Greenville, NC

Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium
Record: 3-0
AP Rank: 4th
Last Game
Maryland W 45-24

Click for College Park, Maryland Forecast
Record: 1-2
AP Rank: NR
Last Game
Memphis W 35-20
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2006 Schedule
First Meeting: 1970
Last Meeting: 2005
Rosters/Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2006 Schedule

Common Opponents to Date:

None to date

Injuries:

WVU: Ridwan Malik - Questionable (hip strain), Doug Slavonic - Questionable (ankle)

ECU: Dominique Lindsay - Out (Knee), Norman Whitley - Out (Shoulder), Brandon Setzer - Out (Knee), Orlando Farrow - Out (Achilles), Stacy Walls -Probable (Knee), Drew Sutton - Probable (Ankle)

Game Outlook:

WVU offense vs. ECU defense

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Game Info
WVU 3-0, 0-0
ECU 1-2, 1-1
Sat 9/23 4:30 pm
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium
Series: WVU 15-2-0
TV: ESPN2
Sagarin: WVU-13 ECU-94
Line: WVU -20
The Pirate defense has stuggled through the first three games of the season, ranking 108th in rushing defense and 91st in total defense. With these numbers coming against Navy, UAB and Memphis, the Pirates have yet to play a team with the offensive speed and weapons like the Mountaineers possess. This could result in big games for Patrick White, Steve Slaton and Owen Schmitt on the ground.

The Pirates' 4-3 defensive attack has been led this season by linebacker Quentin Cotton (6-2, 221). After seeing action in only two games last season, the junior has stepped up his game and is leading the Pirates with 25 tackles. He has also recorded two tackles for a loss and one interception, which he returned for 34 yards.

Joining Cotton at linebacker will be Fred Wilson (6-2, 250) and Van Eskridge (6-0, 206). Both Wilson and Eskridge are seeing game action for the first time this season. The duo has combined for 33 tackles, with Eskridge adding two fumble recoveries.

The Pirate defensive line is anchored by sophomore Marcus Hands (6-5, 277). Hands, an All- Conference candidate, has recorded nine stops and leads the team with two sacks on the season. The North Carolina native had one sack last season against the Mountaineers.

Redshirt freshman Scotty Robinson (6-4, 247) will man the other defenseive end position. Robinson has been labelled as one of the top young defensive talents in Conference USA. The first-year player has eight tackes and one sack on the year.

Rounding out the defensive line are Wendell Chavis (6-2, 280) and Mark Robinson (6-3, 286). The inside duo has racked up 27 stops to date.

The ECU defensive secondary has been an active unit through the first three games of the season. They have recorded four out of the five interceptions the Pirates have snared, returning two for touchdowns. Jamar Flournoy (6-0, 209), who leads the secondary in tackles (21), is a hard-hitting safety that was converted from linebacker during the spring session.

Teaming with Flournoy at safety is Pierre Parker (6-0, 215). Parker, who ranks as perhaps one of the top safeties in Conference USA, was the second leading tackler last season and has racked up 19 stops this season. Like Flournoy, the senior started his career at ECU as a linebacker.

The starting cornerbacks will be Travis Williams (5-10, 182) and Kasey Ross (6-0, 180). Williams, a speedy junior, has totaled 16 stops and two pass breakups while Ross has 19 tackles and one interception return for a touchdown against Memphis. Ross is rated as one of the top corners in the C-USA.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked 4th in total offense (486.33 yds/game), 1st in rushing offense (348.67 yds/game) and 105th in passing offense (137.67 yds/game).

ECU is ranked 91st in total defense (374.33 yds/game), 108th in rushing defense (207.33 yds/game) and 60th in passing efficiency defense (123.48 rating).

Advantage: WVU

WVU defense vs. ECU offense

The Pirate offense is lead by third-year starting signal caller, James Pickney (6-3, 209). The underrated quarterback has connected on 62% of his passes this season (62-99) for 799 yards and four touchdowns. Last season against WVU, Pickney completed 20-of-33 passes for 204 yards and one touchdown. Look for the Florida native to throw for over 250 yards against the Gold and Blue.

Joining Pickney in the backfield will be tailback Chris Johnson (5-11, 190) and fullback Pat Dosh (6-3, 239). Johnson, one of the best running backs in C-USA, has 185 yards on the ground this year (a 4.1 yards per carry average) with three touchdowns. The junior has also cuaght six passes for 39 yards in the first three games. Dosh, a one time ECU quarterback and linebacker, is used mostly for blocking but does have two receptions for 23 yards.

The wide receiving corps is lead by All-American and Fred Biletnikoff Award candidate Aundrae Allison (6-1, 192). Allison torched the Mountaineers last season with 123 yards receiving and a 29-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter. The senior has been chosen as one of the top three NFL talents in C-USA by CollegeFootballNews.com.

Joining Allison will be Phillip Henry (6-0, 170), Kevin Roach (6-4, 217), and Bobby Good (6-1, 187). The trio has hauled in 21 passes for 363 yards and two touchdowns.

Also seeing action catching passes has been tight end Davon Drew (6-4, 245). The converted quarterback has caught seven passes for 72 yards and a touchdown.

The Pirate offensive line is lead by senior Eric Graham (6-6, 324). Graham, who was named to the 2006 Preseason All-Conference USA squad by Phil Steele Magazine, will be making his 26th consectutive start. Graham dominated WVU's defensive linemen in last season's matchup, recording 12 knock down blocks.

Starting at the other tackle position is Terence Campbell (6-5, 325). Campbell, a redshirt freshman will be making only his fourth start of his career.

Playing center for ECU will be Tom Wingenbach (6-6, 300). Although a senior, Wingenbach will be starting only the fourth game of his career against WVU. The converted offensive tackle outplayed Fred Hicks and Drew Sutton for the starting nod.

Manning the guard positions will be Josh Coffman (6-7, 292) and Matt Butler (6-4, 308). Coffman, a junior, is coming off a redshirt season in 2005 that resulted in 40 pounds of extra weight to help his move from tight end to the interior of the offensive line. The Florida native is rated as C-USA's seventh-best NFL talent according to Lindy's National College Football Magazine. Butler, a junior, will be making his 15th consecutive start on Saturday. He played on 75 snaps versus the Mountaineers a year ago, recording two knock down blocks.

Three games into the 2006 season the offensive line has allowed only three sacks, but has been average in run blocking, as ECU has recorded only 116.3 yards rushing per game.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked 39th in total defense (280.00 yds/game), 55th in rushing defense (117.33 yds/game) and 18th in passing efficiency defense (95.77).

ECU is ranked 41st in total offense (123.48 yds/game), 81st in rushing offense (116.33 yds/game) and 23rd in passing offense (266.33 yds/game).

Advantage: WVU

WVU special teams vs. ECU special teams

Surprisingly, the Pirates have one of the better special team units that the Mountaineers will face this season. Both kickers are nominated for national awards while the return men are fast and explosive.

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Handling the punting duties will be Ryan Dougherty (6-1, 221), a two-time All-Conference USA selection. On the season the senior has averaged 40.3 yards per punt, with 40% landing inside opponents' 20-yard line. The Florida native entered the season ranked fourth all-time in both C-USA career punts and career punting yards.

Starting his second season as the place kicker for the Pirates is Robert Lee (5-11, 211). Lee, a junior college transfer, is a Lou Groza Award candidate in 2006. He rates as the top returning kicker in Conference USA and ranks among the best nationally. Lee has connected on all seven PATs and is 3-5 on field goals this season. Last season the Texan was a perfect 30-of-30 on PATs and 17-of-19 on field goal attempts.

Returning kickoffs and punts for ECU will be Chris Johnson and Aundrae Allison, respectively. Johnson, the team's starting tailback, has 122 yards on five kick returns this season. His longest return, 40 yards, came last week against Memphis.

Allison, an exciting playmaker, has been held in check this season, averaging 4.0 yards per punt return on four attempts. Look for the Mountaineers to keep the ball away from the explosive senior on any punts attempted.

By The Numbers:
WVU is ranked 33rd in net punting (37.63 yds/punt), 7th in kick returns (30.00 yds/return) and 56th in punt returns (8.20 yds/return).

ECU is ranked 46th in net punting (36.80 yds/punt), 66th in kick returns (19.71 yds/return) and 95th in punt returns (4.00 yds/return)

Advantage: Push

Picks to Click:

On Offense: Anyone carrying the ball

On Defense: Eric Wicks

Totally Useless Facts:

  • On November 11,1933 East Carolina Teacher's College (now ECU) makes history by recording its first gridiron victory over Campbell College. The team's nickname was the "Teachers". The "Pirate" was adopted in 1934.

  • The classic Jimi Hendrix tune, Purple Haze, is played prior to the start of every home football game as the Pirates take to the field through a cloud of purple smoke.

  • East Carolina University adopted Pirates as an athletic namesake because the school is located near the North Carolina coast where pirates often harbored their ships.

  • The Pirates have played 103 straight games without being shut out.

Prediction:

The Mountaineers are 4-1 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, with the only loss coming in 1995 by the score of 23-20. Look for the Mountaineers to get their fifth win in Greenville, as this Blue and Gold unit has too much experience, speed and talent for an improving Pirate squad.

West Virginia has won 28 of its last 32 regular season games, are 11-0 in the last eleven games played in September and is currently riding a 10-game winning streak and six game road winning streak.

WVU - 48 ECU - 17


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