A Quick ECU Preview

A Quick ECU Preview

Tulane is looking to build momentum for the 2008 season while the Pirates must win in order to keep their hope of an East Division championship and a berth in the Conference USA championship game

Tulane closes Bob Toledo's first season with a road trip to Greenville, S.C., to play the Pirates of East Carolina University.

Tulane is looking to build momentum for the 2008 season while the Pirates must win in order to keep their hope of an East Division championship and a berth in the Conference USA championship game.

The Pirates blew a chance to wrap up the title and a spot in the C-USA title game on November 10th, but lost a shocker to Marshall, 26-7. It was the Thundering Herds second win of the season.

ECU had an open date last wekend to lick their wounds.

With the Marshall loss the Pirates record dropped to 6-5 overall and 5-2 in C-USA.

In order for ECU to win the East Division title they must defeat the Green Wave and hope for 4-7 UTEP to defeat 8-3 Central Florida.

Offensively, the Pirates are led by quarterbacks Pat Pinkney and Rob Kass. Pinkney is the sort of mobile quarterback that has given the Green Wave trouble, while Kass appears to have less mobility.

Pinkney has completed 94-of-157 passes for 1,086 yards and 10 touchdowns. He's also the Pirates second-leading rusher with a net of 241 yards on 63 attempts for a 3.8 yards- per-carry average. Pinkney has scored one rushing touchdown.

Kass has completed 80-of-147 passes for 909 yards and six touchdowns while starting the last six games.

Brett Clay started at quarterback in the opener against Virginia Tech but was ineffective so Pinkney started the next four. Kass then took over the starting job but Pinkney has seen more action in the last two ball games.

ECU runs a two-back, two-receiver offensive set.

The running game has been paced by Chris Johnson, who's netted 1,045 yards on 181 carries and scored 14 touchdowns.

Johnson had 301 yards and four touchdowns against Memphis, his best game of the season. he's only had two other 100-yard ballgames, gaining 147 against Houston and 126 against UTEP.

Johnson averages 5.8 yards per carry, while Pinkney is the team's second-leading rusher.

The second running back is Dominique Lindsey who has gained 175 yards on 56 carries, averaging 3.1 yards per carry while scoring 3 touchdowns.

As a team the Pirates are averaging 4.7 yards per carry and 167 yards per ballgame.

The receivers are led by James Bryant with 40 catches for 596 yards and five touchdowns. Johnson is the number-two receiver with 30 catches for 411 yards and four touchdowns.

The other starting receiver is Steven Rogers who's made 22 catches for 194 yards and two touchdowns.

Reserves Phillip Henry and Dwayne Harris are in the game rotation. Henry has 26 catches for 260 yards, while Harris has 24 for 221 yards and two touchdowns.

The starting offensive line is left tackle 6-5, 277-pound junior Stanley Bryant, a former tight end who transferred from Elizabeth City State; the left guard is senior Matt Butler, 6-4 and 306-pound; at center the starter is 6-5, 292-pound sophomore Stephen Heis; the right guard is another sophomore, Doug Palmer, 6-3 and 306 pounds; at right tackle the starter is Josh Coffman, a 6-7, 292-pound senior.

The o'line has allowed 23 sacks.

The tight end is junior Davon Drew 6-4, 249-pounds. Drew has 17 catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns.

East Carolina is another C-USA team with a problem stopping the run. The Pirates allow 149 yards per game and 3.9 yards per carry, but allowed 239 yards to Marshall, about 100 yards rushing more than the Herd averages each game.

The Pirates line up a pretty standard college 4-3 defense and give up 31.4 points per game.

Junior defensive end Zack Slate, 6-5 and 222-pounds, leads the front four with 48 tackles, including 11.5 takles for loss with 4.5 sacks.

The other defensive end, C.J. Wilson, 6-4 269-pounds, has made 34 tackles, 9 tackles for loss with 6 sacks.

The pressure that the Pirates can bring from the edge is a challenge for the Green Wave's offensive tackles.

There's size inside at tackle with the starters both topping 300 pounds. Sophomore Jay Ross, 6-3, 300-pounds, and 6-6, 307-pound junior Khalif Mitchell start at the inside spots. Ross has made 35 tackles and has 4.5 tackles for loss, including two sacks.

Mitchell is credited with 16 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.

The key backup is huge true freshman Linval Joseph, who stands 6-6, and weighs 344 pounds. Joseph has made 33 tackles with 7 tackles for loss, including a sack.

Altogether the defense has recorded 25 sacks.

The linebackers are a solid group.

The leader is strong linebacker Pierre Bell, 6-2, 231-pounds. Bell, a junior, has 80 tackles and two interceptions to his credit.

Senior middle linebacker Fred Wilson, 6-2 and 260-pounds, has made 72 tackles. Weak linebacker Quentin Cotton, 6-2, 234-pounds, has made 57 tackles, including 10 tackles for loss - one a sack - and has also made an interception.

Sophomore Jeremy Chambliss, 6-0, 225, plays a lot and has made 34 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and a interception.

The leader in the secondary is sophomore free safety Van Eskridge, 6-0, 198-pounds, and the team's leading tackler with 88. Eskridge has 4.5 tackles for loss and an interception.

Eskridge's backup is junior Leon Best, 6-0 and 199 pounds. Best has made 36 tackles and gets credit for 2 interceptions.

The strong safety is J.J. Milbrook, a 5-9, 193-pound junior. Millbrook has been credited with 36 tackles and 2 interceptions.

Millbrook's backup sophomore Chris Mattocks, 6-0, 200-pounds, has made 39 tackles.

Senior Travis Williams, 5-10 and 186-pounds, starts at one corner. Williams has 62 tackles and 1 interception.

The number of interceptions points to the turnover ratio, where the Pirates are a sterling plus-14.

The other corner is Jerek Hewett, a 5-11, 184-pound junior. Hewitt has made 44 tackles and 2 intereptions.

The top backup at corner is Travis Simmons, a 5-10, 179-pound true freshman. Simmons has made 24 tackles and has 1 interception.

The punter is Matt Dodge, a transfer from Appalachian State. Dodge is averaging 41.6 yards per punt on 71 kicks but has had 2 punts blocked.

Coverage deficiencies bring the team net punting average down to 33.1 yards per punt.

The cover unit allows an average of 14.1 yards per reurn on 28 punt returns and is even worse covring kickoffs, allowing 24.6 yards per return on 50 returns.

Placekicking duties are handled by Ben Hartman.

On average Hartman booms kickoffs down to the receiving teams 8-yard line and has converted all 40 of his PAT attempts.

Looking at field goals however, Hartman is only 11-of-19. He's 5-of-6 from the 29 and in but only 6-of-13 from outside the 30. He's converted on 1-of-2 from outside the 50.

The return game is solid.

Dwayne Harris averages 10.1 yards per return on 25 returns

The primary kickoff return man is running back Chris Johnson. Johnson demonstrates his versatility by taking 30 returns back for 28.5 yards and a touchdown. Johnson scored on a 96-yard return.

The weather forecast for the Greenville area Friday night is clear and cold with a low below freezing. The high tomorrow should be above 50.

The ECU game is an opportunity for the Green Wave to finish the season with pride.

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