Week two did not turn out the way the East Carolina Pirates wanted it to go, but we did learn some very important things in this loss.
Stopping The Triple Option Is Very Hard: After preparing for more traditional offenses in the opening two weeks of the season, the Pirates had to face the option attack of Navy. The Midshipmen were able to find lots of running room with Keenan Reynolds and Chris Swain combining for 256 yards on 53 carries. As a whole, the Pirates gave up 415 yards on the ground. Luckily for ECU, that is the last time they should face an option attack this season. Linebackers Montese Overton (12 tkl, 0.5 tfl) and Zeek Bigger (11 tkl, 0.5 tfl) were a bright spot with a combined 23 tackles on the day.
A Competent Running Game Is Important: When ECU is at their best, they have a running game that keeps defenses from over-committing to stop the pass. ECU ended the night versus Navy with only 80 total yards on the ground. Starting running back Chris Hairston has one rush of 15 yards, while his other nine carries went for 23 total yards. The Pirates must be able to line up and convert on short yard opportunities with the run game to have a chance at a bowl.
Blake Kemp Is Doing Just Fine: When Kurt Benkert went down with a knee injury, Blake Kemp was thrust into action as the new starter. Kemp has been very good in his time at quarterback with a 70.7% completion rate, nearly 900 yards passing, and a 3:1 touchdown to interception ratio. Kemp will have another tough test versus Virginia Tech in week four, but he should be ready for the challenge.
Top Receiving Options Have Lived Up To The Hype: Wide receiver Isaiah Jones (30/342/1TD) and tight end Bryce Williams (17/161/3TD) have not disappointed so far this season with a combined 47 catches in three games. The duo have put the passing game on their back while other options like Jimmy Williams (13/102/1TD) get more involved. Trevon Brown is expected to be back from a three-game suspension for the upcoming game versus Virginia Tech, giving more depth to the receiving corps.
The Pirates Don't Give Up: The final margin was 24 points in favor of Navy at the end, but East Carolina never gave up in this game. The Pirates trailed 28-7 at one point and back to a 35-21 deficit, but it was too much to overcome. It was good to see them fight until the very end. Navy was just better on this day.
Missed Chances Killed Any Hope: The Pirates drive into Navy territory in five of their first six drives of the game, coming up with only 14 total points. On three of the five occasions, they came up with nothing (missed field goal, two turnovers on downs). Once is understandable, but three times getting into Navy territory and coming up with nothing is incredibly hard to overcome.