Date: Saturday, November 4th
Kickoff Time: 11:00am CT
Location: TDECU Stadium
Series Record: ECU leads 7-5
Inconsistencies continue to plague the Pirates, but they have shown flashes of success and have some players who have been consistent. Scottie Montgomery needs to turn this ship around if he wants to remain the head coach, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier going forward.
Davon Grayson has been the surprise of the conference, and is near the top in receiving yards. His quarterback, Thomas Sirk has been solid for the most part, which has contributed to Grayson’s success. If not for that combination, the Pirates might be even worse with a lack of running game. Hussein Howe is their leading rusher with 214 yards, followed by Sirk at 162. Facing Houston’s front seven, this could be their worst game on the ground yet. And they’re probably not going to get much support from their defense.
ECU continues to have the worst defense in the country, and it’s not even close. Allowing 578 yards per game, they continue to struggle against opposing offenses. Houston’s offense may not be the best they’ve seen, but everyone seems to be looking good against ECU. Luckily for the Pirates, the only way to go is up. Any improvement on this side of the ball could give them a chance on the road, and it’s beginning to look like Scottie Montgomery’s job may depend on it.
D’Eriq King took over at quarterback last week, and led a comeback drive late in the game to beat USF. King should be the starter for the foreseeable future, and hopefully that means a more dynamic offense. Quarterback play has been a concern all year, and Major Applewhite’s decision making regarding it has been unpredictable, but his decision to pick up the pace on offense two weeks ago has done wonders for this group.
New players are emerging and contributing on the offense that we haven’t seen all year, and that adds another dimension to this group. Mulbah Car took over as the #2 back behind Duke Catalon, and rushed for a game high 137 yards against the Bulls. Courtney Lark had been buried in the depth chart, but last week had two of arguably the biggest catches in his career. One went for a touchdown, and the other was to convert a 4th-and-24. Lark adds to a group that already feature Linell Bonner and Steven Dunbar, meaning that King will have even more options to find downfield.
We saw how focused this defense was to the game plan last week, and there’s no reason why they can’t play that way for the rest of the season. The Cougars shut down Quinton Flowers and the Bulls running game all day Saturday. While Flowers had 325 passing yards, Houston put a lot of pressure on the run game and provided timely blitzes. The bend-don’t-break attitude continued, and it paid off in the form of a 28-24 upset win. Ed Oliver continues to be dominant, and his name will keep coming up until he is no longer relevant (which will be never). D’Juan Hines continues to prove he is a natural on the inside, and the return of Matthew Adams was a great addition as well.
Everyone has a rough game, and I think that King might have his this week. It won’t result in a loss, but ECU doesn’t hold the same weight as USF. Will the lack of motivation hurt him? I hope not, but I think I’m being overcautious with how this team has played in the past. I really want King to dominate, and for the offense to explode, but he was still running around a lot last week against USF. The offensive line needs to be more consistent (still) to convince me the Cougars can win big.
Houston 28 ECU 14