Start Time: 7:30 P.M. ET, Saturday, Oct. 10
Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, Utah
Records: East Carolina 3-2, BYU 3-2. This is the first meeting between these two programs.
Live Stats: here.
Betting Line: East Carolina +8. Over/Under 55.5.
East Carolina Outlook: The Pirates are a tale of two quarterbacks. The run game saw a huge boost in the last two weeks with the insertion of James Summers into the lineup at quarterback. His ability to force defenses to change the way they play, has opened up lanes for Chris Hairston (78/301/5TD). Fellow running back Anthony Scott (29/129/1TD) has also been able to become a factor in the last two weeks. Overall, the Pirates are averaging 149.4 yards per game on the ground, but should see that number continue to rise as the season progresses.
Passing the ball is a forte of the ECU offense. Blake Kemp (118-168/1,107/8TD) started the season, but James Summers (17-22/276/3TD) has taken over in each of the last two games. Whoever is at quarterback, Isaiah Jones (38/473/2TD) and Bryce Williams (23/232/3TD) are the top targets with 42.3% of all pass attempts heading their way. Trevon Brown (8/129/2TD) has quickly worked his way into the passing game after missing the first three games of the season due to suspension. Overall, the Pirates pass for 276.6 yards per game.
After starting the season poorly, the ECU defense has looked better as the season has progressed. The Pirates defense is still giving up a successful play on 45.3% of all opportunities, but the second half of the SMU game saw the defense take a big step forward in giving up just over 60 yards in the final half. Playing a quality team like BYU will show just how far forward the ECU defense is after six games.
Players to watch on the ECU defense include: Zeek Bigger (40 tkl, 1 tfl), Jordan Williams (39 tkl, 4 tfl, 2 sacks), and Montese Overton (32 tkl, 5.5 tfl, 4 sacks).
BYU Outlook: BYU is such a weird team in 2015. Everything about their first five games says they should be 1-4 right now, yet they are 3-2. They Cougars don’t do anything particularly amazing on offense, they have a habit of staying in games. BYU is only successful on 37.8% of all run plays, while defenses stuff them on 22.9%. Both numbers rank BYU in the 100+ range. Adam Hine (54/312/2TD) is the leading rusher, but only Algernon Brown (26/118/0TD) gives the senior any sort of a break. Overall, the Cougars are averaging 117.8 yards per game on the ground.
BYU is more successful in the passing game, with a 40.5% success rate and the nation’s #25 ranked passing S&P+ at 121.9. Freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum (101-167/1,084/6TD) has been erratic at times and stunning at other times. Mitch Matthews (26/267/5TD), Mitchell Juergens (25/324/2TD), Devon Blackmon (18/200/0TD), Nick Kurtz (16/223/0TD), and Terenn Houk (15/228/0TD) are all good targets, but only Juergens has a catch rate above 80%. Overall, BYU is putting up 216.8 yards per game in the air.
The Cougars defense tends to do just enough to stay in games. In allowing a rushing success rate of 41.1% and a rushing IsoPPP of 1.24, the run defense has some issues to resolve. Surprisingly, offenses are only able to average 160.4 yards per game on the ground versus the BYU defense. Teams have more trouble versus the pass defense with only a 40.4% success rate. The Cougars do a great job of keeping pass catchers in front of them and making the tackle.
Players to look out for on the BYU defense include Michael Wadsworth (34 tkl, 2.5 tfl), Harvey Langi (27 tkl, 5 tfl, 4 sacks), and Kai Nacua (18 tkl, 4 int).
Prediction: This is a game that should favor BYU in every possible aspect. Even though conventional wisdom says to go in favor of the home favorite, I have bought a ticket on the Summers train. Just do not let Mangum get a chance at a game winning hail mary. East Carolina 28, BYU 27.