Will the Pirates pillage the Cougars, or will the Cougars scratch the Pirates? On Saturday October 10th BYU will host the East Carolina Pirates for the first time ever. Most people will remember ECU as an over achieving team that seems to always upset some big program every year.
Last year’s ECU team was frustrating for Pirate fans. They started the year off great beating Virginia Tech in the third week of the season. There were looking like a favorite to be the representative of the G5 conferences in the New Years six bowls.
They ended the year at 8-5 with heartbreaking losses that should have been wins finishing 2-5 in games decided by ten points or fewer, but nothing hurt more than the loss to UCF. ECU scored twenty-one unanswered points to take the lead in the fourth then this happened:
Last year ECU was a very pass heavy team throwing the ball around 50 times a game. That was with three-year starting quarterback Shane Carden though. Now they need to decide who their next quarterback will be. Head Coach Ruffin McNeil and his new Offensive Coordinator come from the Mike Leach coaching tree so they believe in spreading the field and passing the ball vertically.
Right now it looks like Kurt Bekhert is going to be the starter. He has the best tools physically of the three options they are looking at. With ECUs offense they will start the best vertical passer. He only threw ten passes last year completing eight of them for 57 yards. The only other quarterback with game experience is Cody Keith and he is recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Don’t expect ECU to run the ball frequently, but do expect the backfield be involved in the passing game. One of the strengths of this team is the experienced offensive line so that could help whoever is in the backfield make some noise. Chris Hairston was last years back up and looks to be the top back in 2015. He could have a decent season, but I don’t see a mediocre running game being able to do much against a Bronco influenced defense.
ECU lost Justin Hardy, it’s all time best receiver last year and will try to replace him. ECU is a fast pace throw the ball a lot offense which will help them recover. Quarterback is more of a question mark for this team. Since they throw the ball so much a lot of the backups got receptions last year and are ready to take another step this year. They still have five guys returning that had at least thirty receptions last year.
The ECU defense was and will be an interesting study. Much like a lot of the good BYU defenses they were experts at stopping the run and were terrible against the pass. They were one the best mid major programs at stopping the run ranking 36th in the nation in run defense.
A big reason why they were so efficient at stopping the run was that opponents didn’t need to run the ball. They averaged giving up a 57 percent completion percentage and a passer rating of 120.2. So a lot of teams last year just stood in the pocket and passed all over the Pirates. They didn’t face many prolific passing teams last year either. With some turnover in the secondary they could be even worst this year.
Too Early Prediction:
Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams running against a good running defensive is a good match up to watch, but I think that Taysom’s ability to pass the ball is more than proficient to gain a lot of yards. It will be a good match up with strengths against weaknesses. ECUs ability to throw the ball vs BYUs secondary means that ECU will be able to score. In the end the BYU offense will be too much for the Pirates, BYU wins an exciting home shootout 51-48. GO COUGARS