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Know the Foe: East Carolina

East Carolina quarterback Thomas Sirk is sacked by Connecticut's Junior Joseph during the Pirates' 41-38 triumph Sunday.

Mark Mirko | Hartford Courant

East Carolina quarterback Thomas Sirk is sacked by Connecticut's Junior Joseph during the Pirates' 41-38 triumph Sunday.



A look at East Carolina, which hosts No. 18 USF on Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, N.C.

Nickame: Pirates
Record: 1-3 (1-0 American Athletic Conference)
Win: at Connecticut, 41-38
Losses: vs. James Madison, 34-14; at West Virginia, 56-20; home vs. Virginia Tech, 64-17
Coach: Scottie Montgomery (second season, 4-12)

The breakdown: The Pirates, dead last in Division I in total defense (624.8 ypg), nearly squandered a 20-point second-half lead in Sunday's 41-38 win at Connecticut. Their first win of '17 was secured only when Huskies PK Mike Tarbutt missed a 33-yard field goal on the final play. ... The Pirates' recent modus operandi has been to spread the field and feed a primary receiver (i.e. Justin Hardy, Zay Jones), and this year seems no exception. In Sunday's win, QB Thomas Sirk -- a Duke transfer -- threw for 426 yards and three touchdowns, with more than half of that yardage total (and all three TDs) going to senior Davon Grayson (11 catches, 223 yards). Currently, Grayson (98.5) and junior teammate Trevon Brown (86.3) rank first and second, respectively, in the AAC in receiving yards per game. Problem is, the Pirates can't run the ball (105.5 ypg -- 115th nationally) or stop the run (274.5 ypg -- 123rd nationally). Fact is, they're the only team in Division I allowing more than 600 yards a game. As if to compound their misery, they rank 119th in the country in turnover margin (minus-1.50).

Odds and ends: ECU has won seven of its last eight conference home openers. ... In their 64-17 home loss to Virginia Tech, the Pirates led 17-7 after one quarter before allowing 57 unanswered points. ... The Pirates are 116th in the latest ESPN Football Power Index rankings. ... ECU has no players from the bay area on its roster. ... It has recovered one fumble all season.

Audible: "They get the ball outside on the perimeter and have a really outstanding receiver (Grayson). ... And then the quarterback (Sirk), he has a little run game to him. So we're just gonna have to make sure that we get aligned properly and get our feet on the ground and not give up the big play, because they do have a run-pass option where the quarterback can come down the line, and if the receiver's open he's gonna dump the ball out there to him. So we can't lose eyes on our coverage." -- Bulls coach Charlie Strong

[Last modified: Tuesday, September 26, 2017 3:49pm]


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