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East Carolina’s AAC schedule ramps up as the no. 18 USF Bulls come to town

After getting in the win column, ECU will try to defend their home turf against USF

East Carolina v West Virginia Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Date: Saturday September 30, 2017

Kickoff Time: Noon EST

Location: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, North Carolina


Line: USF -23.5

Series Record: USF leads 6-1

Last Meeting: USF won 38-22, October 8, 2016

Although ECU started out on the wrong foot, they have a chance to redeem themselves this week. It won’t be an easy match-up, but if there is a chance to right the ship (pun intended), this is the time to do so. After the UConn game, ECU is currently tied for first place in the AAC east with the team they play this weekend. Here is what they did last week and a final prediction for the game.

USF Outlook

Last week, the Bulls dominated Temple in Tampa as they continued to flex their muscles to the rest of the AAC, and all their doubters.

Offensively, they can be the most potent offense in the country. Last year, they had great success moving the ball, and putting up points. This year, the first quarter has been a little troublesome. They have only scored 19 first quarter points compared to the 144 they scored through the other quarters. Quinton Flowers, Darius Tice, D’Ernest Johnson, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are the veteran leaders on this team. Each of them making massive contributions on offense that is yielding 40.8 PPG. Last week, the potent offense put up 43 points against the defending AAC champions.

What was the weak link last year, is a huge positive. The USF defense has drastically improved under head coach Charlie Strong, and defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary. Last week, the defense pitched a shutout as they racked up a whomping six turnovers, and currently lead the nation with 14 takeaways. Deatrick Nichols, Devin Abraham, Mazzi Wilkins, and Auggie Sanchez are the veterans of the group that played a huge part in the defensive improvement from last year.

East Carolina Outlook

Last week, the Pirates shocked everyone by putting up 41 points. The offense exploded against a very bad UConn team. But a conference win on the road is a great confidence booster heading into a big game as the Pirates have an opportunity to move to 2-0 in conference play.

Offensively, ECU showed they can be a good team. In fact, they’re much better than USF when it comes to getting off to fast starts. Just last week, ECU scored 21 points in the first quarter! That is more than USF has scored all season long in the first quarter. ECU is led by grad transfer, Thomas Sirk. Last week, Sirk showed he can still compete at a high level. He only missed on nine passes, while making some exceptional throws. ECU is not short on wide receivers either. Davon Grayson and Trevon Brown are very good receivers that lead the American in receiving yards. Although ECU struggles running the ball, the passing game has given ECU a big boost offensively.

On the defensive side though, there are some questions. Here are the point totals scored on this defense: 34, 56, 64, and 38. That does not seem like a defense that is fundamentally sound. Albeit the higher scores were against great teams, it is a bit concerning to see ECU giving up high point totals against great teams when they play another ranked opponent this week.

The bright spot of the team is veteran DB Korrin Wiggins coming away with an interception against UConn last week. The defense almost folded in when UConn was mounting a comeback, but held just enough to win the game. ECU is going to have to play their best game on defense if they want to win this game.

Final Prediction

I think this will actually be a very fun first half to watch. ECU will stay true to form by getting off to a quick start. USF won’t get off to a slow start, but won’t be particularly fast either. USF will take a lead going into the half, and then pull away in the third quarter as I think the Bulls finally put up 50 points this season.

USF 52, ECU 20