Preview: West Virginia - East Carolina

Aye, the East Carolina Pirates sail int' Morgantown lookin' t' upset the highly-rated Mountaineers o' West 'irginia. Gar, where can I find a bottle o'rum?






BlueGoldNews.com Game Scorecard
Series: WVU 16-2-0
Sat 9/22/07 Noon
Morgantown, W. Va.

Milan Puskar Stadium
Record: 3-0
USA/Coaches: 5th
Last Game
Maryland W 31-14

Click for Morgantown, West Virginia Forecast
Record: 1-2
USA/Coaches: NR
Last Game
So. Miss. L 21-28
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2007 Schedule
First Meeting: 1970
Last Meeting: 2006
Rosters/Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2007 Schedule

Injuries

WVU: Keilen Dykes (Foot) Probable, Darius Reynaud (Shoulder) Probable, Bobby Hathaway (Hand) Probable, Archie Sims (Hamstring) Questionable

ECU: J.R. Kraemer (Thumb) Out, Brandon Setzer (Knee) Questionable, Khalif Mitchell (Ankle) Doubtful, Darryl Reynolds (Leg) Doubtful

Game Outlook:

WVU offense vs. ECU defense

In recent years the ECU defense is one of the few units that has been able to slow down the Mountaineer attack. This season the Pirates return seven starters that started in 2006 against WVU, so the confidence is there that the defense can keep the Pirates in the game.

Leading the Purple and Gold gang again this season is linebacker Quentin Cotton (6-2, 234). Cotton is the team leader with 25 stops to go along with 4.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one interception and a quarterback hurry.

The All-Conference USA nominee will be joined at linebacker by Fred Wilson (6-2, 260) and Pierre Bell (6-2, 231). Wilson has recorded 15 tackles while the hard-hitting Bell is second on the team with 23 stops. He also has one interception this season. The Pirate linebacking unit is experienced, combining for 44 career starts.

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Game Info
WVU 3-0, 0-0
ECU 1-2, 0-1
Sat 9/22/07 Noon
Milan Puskar Stadium
Series: WVU 16-2-0
TV: ESPN2
Dave Pasch (play-by-play),
Andre Ware (analyst),
Erin Andrews (sideline)
Coaches: WVU 5th - ECU NR
Line: WVU -22
Manning the defensive end positions will be Zack Slate(6-5, 232) and Marcus Hands (6-5, 272). Both ends have been able to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, as the duo has totaled 2.5 sacks and five quarterback hurries in addition to 28 tackles.

The men in the middle are Mark Robinson (6-3, 296) and the massive Khalif Mitchell (6-6, 307). The pair have not posted any eye-popping statistics but both are very good at keeping the offensive lineman from reaching the second level of the defense.

The Pirate secondary lost half of its unit with the departure of Jamar Flournoy and Pierre Parker but return cornerback Travis Williams (5-10, 186) and Van Eskridge (6-0, 198). Williams and Eskridge have 22 starts between them and a notable total of 35 tackles.

Rounding out the unit will be Chris Mattocks (6-0, 200) and Jerek Hewett (5-11, 184). Both are first year starters but have made their presence known with a combined 30 tackles and four pass breakups.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked 16th in total offense (500.33 yds/game), second in rushing offense (343.67 yds/game) and 101st in passing offense (156.67 yds/game)

ECU is ranked 61st in total defense (361.33 yds/game), 25th in rushing defense (86.00 yds/game) and 100th in passing defense (275.33 yds/game).

Advantage: WVU

WVU defense vs. ECU offense

This season's Pirate offensive attack will be lead by a fresh face, but a familiar name in Pat Pinkney (6-0, 198). Although Pat is no relation to last season's starting signal caller, James Pinkney, the two are similar in their abilities to pass and run the ball.

Over the first three games Pickney has completed 65-99 passes (65.7%) for 724 yards and five touchdowns while suffering just one interception. Just for comparison, Patrick White has completed 31-49 passes (63.3%) for 436 yards, four touchdowns and no picks. The ECU junior also leads the team in rushing with 109 yards on 30 attempts for an average of 3.6 per tote.

Look for Pinkney to throw most of his passes close to the line of scrimmage, as only 23% of Pirate passes have gone over 10 yards.

Joining Pinkney in the backfield will be Chris Johnson (5-11, 195) and Dominique Lindsay (5-10, 207). The duo has very similar stats, averaging 30.7 and 29.7 yards respectively. They also figure into the passing game for the Pirates, as Johnson is the fourth-leading receiver on the team with 165 yards and three touchdowns while Lindsay has hauled in seven passes for 43 yards.

With the departure, via the NFL Draft, of Aundrae Allison, head coach Skip Holtz has looked to spread the ball around to different wide receivers this season. Over the first three games, 10 players have caught passes for the Pirates, with the leaders being Phillip Henry (6-0, 183), Jamar Bryant (6-2, 193) and Steven Rogers (6-0, 182). The trio has combined for 36 receptions for 308 yards but has yet to reach paydirt.

The anchor of the offensive line is left guard Matt Butler (6-4, 306) who has started 27 straight games for the Pirates. Butler also leads the team in plays this season (225) and knockouts (12 --a stat presumably similar to a pancake).

Joining Butler on the left side will be Josh Coffman (6-7, 292). Coffman, who is the second most experienced lineman with 19 starts, is also second in plays (205) and knockouts (11).

Unlike the left side of the line, the center and right side have only 12 starts among the trio, and it is here that the Pirates have struggled. Fred Hicks (6-0, 306) will start at center with right guard Doug Palmer (6-3, 306) and right tackle D.J. Scott (6-6, 309) alongside.

By The Numbers:
WVU is ranked 33rd in total defense (311.00 yds/game), 19th in rushing defense (80.67 yds/game) and 68th in passing defense (230.33 yds/game).

ECU is ranked 85th in total offense (343.67 yds/game), 96th in rushing offense (101.00 yds/game) and 49th in passing offense (242.67 yds/game).

Advantage: WVU

WVU special teams vs. ECU special teams

The ECU special teams have struggled to get on track this season. The lone bright spot for the Pirates has been the kickoff returns of Chris Johnson. The senior has averaged 26.7 yards on seven returns with a long of 44 yards.

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Returning punts for the Pirates will be Dwayne Harris (6-0, 199) or Steven Rogers. Harris has returned five punts for an average of 7.2 yards while Rogers has not fared as well, averaging only 2.7 yards on three returns. Look for HArris to retain his starting role here.

The disappointing results have been most pronounced in the kicking game, where place kicker Ben Hartman (5-11, 193) has connected on only two of six field goal attempts, with his longest successful kick coming from 39 yards.

Getting plenty of experience this season has been starting punter Matt Dodge (6-2, 219). Dodge has recorded 21 punts for an average of 41.9 yards in three games this season. The sophomore has dropped five of his punts inside the 20 yard-line.

By The Numbers:
WVU is ranked 93rd in net punting (32.36 yds/punt), 64th in kick returns (21.00 yds/return) and 55th in punt returns (9.75 yds/return).

ECU is ranked 97th in net punting (32.05 yds/punt), 17th in kick returns (25.92 yds/return) and 90th in punt returns (5.50 yds/return)

Advantage: WVU

Picks to Click:

On Offense: Offensive Line

On Defense: Ryan Mundy

Prediction:

Not since Kay-Jay Harris' 337-yard rushing outburst against East Carolina in 2003 has a Mountaineer team dominated the purple-clad Pirates. The Mountaineers have failed to rush for more than 160 in the last two seasons (127 yards in 2005 and 153 yards in 2006). During ECU's first three games, only one running back has gained more then 100 yards -- last week against Southern Miss when Damion Fletcher rushed for 111.

After Saturday's game you can add another name to that list, Steve Slaton, and you can mark it down that WVU will rush for more than 200 yards. The Pirates might slow the Gold and Blue for the first half but not for the whole game.

WVU - 41 ECU - 20


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