Saturday night saw the East Carolina Pirates submit their second straight sub par performance in losing to the South Florida Bulls 22-17. This game drops the Pirates to 4-6 on the season in what has turned out to be a very disappointing year for the program.
In a game that had very few positives for the Pirates, let's look at the good, bad, and ugly of this loss.
- Defensive Performance: Yes, the Bulls did rack up 442 overall yards on the day, but the defense was able to come up with several huge stops and force field goal attempts. ECU played perfect bend, but don't break defense. Considering how bad the ECU offense was, the defense deserves extra credit for keeping them in the game.
- Worth Gregory: The punter has been stellar this season and was again versus South Florida. He punted nine times for a 44.6 yards per punt average and a long of 73. Six of the nine punts ended up inside the Bulls 20-yard line. South Florida only started one post-punt drive outside of their own 35-yard line. Gregory may be the team MVP at this point.
- Staying in the Game: Despite every statistic saying that South Florida should have won big over the Pirates, they found a way to stay in the game. Though they were unable to win this game, it was impressive that they actually had a realistic chance to do so at the end.
- Rushing Offense: The coaching staff decided that James Summers would be the quarterback in this game no matter what. His ability to run the ball was supposed to vault ECU over South Florida. What instead happened was 34 team carries for 62 total yards. Sacks yards are included in the total, but Chris Hairston was only able to carry the ball for 24 total yards on 13 carries. The entire run game was a mess.
- One Quarterback System: The ECU coaching staff was determined to go with one quarterback in this game and it came back to bite them. Blake Kemp never got a shot to face a secondary that could be exploited by a good passing game. Summers was decent passing in going 14-22 for 158 yards, but 95 of those yards came on two passes. This game was screaming for the ECU passing game of old.
- Run Defense: Facing a talented running back like Marlon Mack is quite the challenge. Add in quarterback Quinton Flowers and the Pirates were in trouble. The duo combined for 196 yards on the ground, a huge part of the 242 total yards rushing for the Bulls. Run defense has been an issue for ECU all season long and reared its ugly head once again in the loss.
- Bowl Hope Flickering: This loss puts the Pirates at 4-6 on the season and needing to win both games in order to secure bowl eligibility. ECU must beat both Central Florida and Cincinnati to get to six wins.
- 1.8 yards per carry. It cannot get much worse than that. The run game had its worst performance since the Florida game. Just a very disappointing day on the ground for the Pirates.
Play of the Game:
- Flowers to Rodney Adams for a South Florida touchdown. The 67-yard touchdown pass gave South Florida the lead at 22-17. Stopping that one play may have saved the game for the Pirates.
- The Pirates head to Orlando to face Central Florida in a must win game. If they fall in this game, their bowl hopes go up in smoke. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 PM EST.