Bits and Bytes: WVU - ECU

As the Blue & Gold News crew rumbles down the road to Greenville, N.C., we leave you with some final thoughts and observations on Saturday afternoon's West Virginia – East Carolina game. 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

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Record: 1-2
AP Rank: NR
Last Game
Memphis W 35-20
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First Meeting: 1970
Last Meeting: 2005
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2006 Schedule


For ECU to knock off the fourth-ranked Mountaineers, the Pirates will have to follow the tried and true formula for an upset – keep the ball, hit a couple of big plays, and don't give up any to the favored foe. The Pirates do look to be well-positioned to meet at least one of those criteria.

So far this season, East Carolina is 19-40 in third-down conversions – a success rate of 48%. If it can match that figure against WVU, it will have met step one of that three-pronged test. The Mountaineer defense, on the other hand, is yielding a 42% success rate on third down, so the Pirates have to figure they have some hope of meeting their goal. Getting off the field on third down is one of the battle cries of West Virginia defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel, so this should be an interesting aspect of the game to keep track of.


WVU is a ridiculous 17-17 on red zone scoring this year. That is, every time the Mountaineers have advanced inside an opponents' 20-yard line, they have scored. What's more, West Virginia is making the most of those trips by converting them into seven points, not three, most of the time. WVU has scored 15 touchdowns on its 17 forays into the zone, with a pair of Pat McAfee field goals accounting for the other two scores.
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
Sagarin: WVU-13 ECU-94
Line: WVU -20
By comparison, WVU's opponents have scored on five of their six trips in the promised land, but only two of those have been touchdowns. That's a factor that's overlooked by many critics of the West Virginia defense.


With opponents averaging 207.3 yards per game rushing, it would be safe to assume that East Carolina has given up several big plays on the ground. However, the Pirates, who are yielding 4.4 yards per rush, have allowed just one run of more than 20 yards in its first three contests (a 26-yarder by Navy). That stat paints a picture of a defense that is yielding ground, but guarding against the big play at all costs.

Although the opposition hasn't been of the highest quality, ECU hasn't given up a play of more than 40 yards in any of its three games this year. Meanwhile, WVU has 12 offensive plays of 20 yards or more in 2006. Also, the Mountaineers have averaged 375.5 yards rushing against the Pirates in the last four meetings between the two squads.

One more bit – WVU holds the top two all-time rushing performances by an ECU foe. The Mountaineers rumbled for 536 yards in 2002, and followed that record performance with 478 yards in 2004.


Although it possesses one of the most desirable tailgating setups of any WVU opponent, East Carolina doesn't get high marks for its pre-game partying. ECU has loads of flat land and parking within easy walking distance of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, yet the tailgating action in Greenville leaves a lot to be desired. There are a handful of early arrivals, but on West Virginia's previous trips there have been plenty of prime spaces that are unoccupied until shortly before game time.
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With great weather, flat, grassy parking lots and plenty of room, this should be tailgating heaven, even if the Pirates are struggling. West Virginia fans would give up a lot to have the tailgating opportunities that ECU has. Of course, Pirate fans might trade all that for the football team WVU has put on the field the past few years.


Patrick White's 32 pass attempts in three games aren't enough to qualify him for inclusion in the NCAA's passer ratings (QBs must have at least 15 attempts per game to make the lists), but if his efficiency continues at its current rate, that's probably something most Mountaineer fans won't care about. The Chief has misfired on just nine pass attempts so far this year (including two drops), and has three touchdown tosses to balance against zero interceptions (which is the most important number). White's pass efficiency rating is an astronomical 191.32. Just for comparison's sake, the national leaders (Florida's Chris Leak and SMU's Justin Willis), each have a rating of 177.5.


Both WVU and ECU have put together several lengthy touchdown drives this year. Of East Carolina's seven TD marches, three have been at least 80 yards in length, with two others covering 60-69 yards.

West Virginia, however, can top that. Of WVU's 18 touchdown drives this year, seven have covered more than 70 yards. Included in that total are three of more than 90 yards, and an additional pair that covered 89 and 81 yards. That's probably not a big surprise once you think about WVU's running game, but it's still an awesome testimony to the efficiency with which the Mountaineers run the ball.

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