WVU - ECU game preview

East Carolina sails into Morgantown on Saturday looking for a win while the Mountaineers plan on making the Pirates walk the plank.

Series: West Virginia leads series 11-2-0.

Common Opponents: None

Pirates to watch:
DB- Anthony Adams, WR - Richard Alston, K- Kevin Miller, OL- Brian Rimpf, LB - John Williamson, DB - Kelly Hardy, QB-Paul Troth, NG -Damane Duckett.

WVU - Dee Alston (Thumb) Probable, Darnell Glover (Knee) Out, A.J. Nastasi, (Ankle) Out, Tim Love (Back) Questionable

ECU RB- Demarcus Fox (Knee) Out, C- Doug White (Knee) Out. WR- Richard Alston (Mono) Probable.

Game outlook:

Game Info
WVU 0-0, 2-1
ECU 1-0, 1-2
Sat. 9/28 Noon
Mountaineer Field
Series: WVU 11-2
TV: ESPN Regional
BCS: WVU-45 - ECU-87
Line:WVU -7
Stats & Trends
WVU offense vs. ECU defense
WVU fans are finally getting a glimpse as to how the spread offense can confuse opposing defenses. Lead by Miquelle Henderson, the receiving corps is beginning to make some plays that would not have been made last year. Possibly the biggest improvement by the receivers has been the yards after catch. Henderson, Braxton, Page and the gang are turning 4 yards completions into 12-yard gains and first downs. In addition, after a sluggish start to begin the season, Avon Cobourne seems to have found his stride. After spinning through the Bearcat defense for 193 yards, Avon ranks 13th in the nation in rushing with 126 yards per game. Throw in Rasheed Marshall's rushing ability along with Quincy Wilson and Cassell Smith, the Mountaineers possess a formidable rushing attack.

The key this weekend will be blocking ECU's Damane Duckett. Duckett is a 6-7 300lb junior nose guard that can cause havoc in the middle. If the Mountaineer interior line can keep Duckett out of the back field Avon will top the 100 yard mark for the 21st time, tying the all-time record held by Amos Zereoue.

Advantage : West Virginia

WVU defense vs. ECU offense
This weekend's game will be decided by which of these units perform the best. ECU has struggled on offense ranking 90th in scoring (20.7 ppg), 105th in total offense (289 ypg) and 90th in both rushing (124.3 ypg) and passing (165 ypg). With that being said, the buzz around Greenville, NC is that this offense is ready to have a break out game. Sophomore QB Paul Troth follows a long line of big, strong armed ECU quarterbacks and although Troth doesn't have the mobility of his predecessors he is 6-5 233 lbs and can fight off pursing tacklers. The early criticism of Troth has been his decision making and his accuracy, Troth has completed only 46.7% of his passing while throwing 7 interceptions.

On the other side of the ball, while the Mountaineers have definitely improved from last year but there is still room for improvement. WVU's defense ranks 58th in scoring (24.3 ppg), 48th in total defense (336.3) and 92nd in pass efficiency defense (137.4 pts). If Grant Wiley and Company can get pressure on Troth, the WVU secondary will add to their interception totals.

Advantage: West Virginia

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WVU special teams vs. ECU special teams

There is no doubt that WVU's Achilles heal this year has been special teams. The Mountaineers gave up two big returns against Cincinnati that let the Bearcats make the game closer than is should have been. Besides defending the returns, WVU has also struggled with returning punts, averaging only 7.1 yards per return (90th nationally) and net punting, averaging 30.5 yards per punt (98th nationally).

On the other hand, the Pirates are certainly not dominating teams with special teams, but their statistics are more impressive than WVU's. Additionally, ECU's place kicker, Kevin Miller (6' 217 lb Sr.) is one of the best kickers that the Mountaineers will face this year. Miller has already connected on field goals on 44 and 50 yards with his only miss coming from 47 yards.

Advantage : East Carolina

Picks to Click:

On Offense: Rasheed Marshall
On Defense: Grant Wiley

Stat(s) of the week:
The Mountaineers are 9-3-2 in games played on September 28th. WVU is 27-7 as a home favorite while ECU is 12-15 as a road underdog, both respectable records. Hopefully size doesn't matter, WVU players average 6'0" and 220 lbs while ECU players average 6'0" and 226 lbs. WVU scores 7 points every 15.5 plays while it takes ECU 22.5 plays.

Stats & Trends

I've dipped to 2-1 on predictions for the year after the Mountaineers topped the Bearcats to get WVU's first road win in a loooooonggg time. That was one time that I don't mind being wrong and the crow didn't taste too bad...sort of like chicken. This week the ECU Bucs will try to capture their first win in Morgantown against a group of Mountaineers that are out to prove that they belong in the upper echelon on the Big East. Hate to sink your ship Pirates but the Mountaineers own this series.

WVU - 34 East Carolina - 20

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