CFN Take: East Carolina Blown Out By Marshall
East Carolina Pirates 2013 ...
Head Coach: Ruffin McNeill
Marshall 59, at East Carolina 28
| 2013 Record: 9-3|
8/31 Old Dominion W 52-38
9/7 Florida Atlantic W 31-13
9/14 Virginia Tech L 15-10
9/21 OPEN DATE
9/28 at North Carolina W 55-31
10/5 at Middle Tenn W 24-17
10/12 at Tulane L 36-33 3OT
10/19 Southern Miss W 55-14
10/26 OPEN DATE
11/2 at FIU W 34-13
11/9 Tulsa W 58-24
11/16 UAB W 63-14
11/23 at NC State W 42-28
11/30 at Marshall L 59-28
Basically … Marshall grabbed the East title by coming out hot and never letting it become a game scoring the first 24 points helped by short touchdown runs from Devon Johnson and Rakeem Cato along with a three-yard Gator Hoskins scoring grab. Johnson ran for another score and took a pass 52 yards for a touchdown, and Cato ran for another touchdown to close out a 21-point second half run that made it a blowout. East Carolina got two touchdowns from Vintavious Cooper, but the offense turned it over three times and failed to keep up.
- Marshall QB Rakeem Cato completed 17-of-28 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns with a pick, and he ran five times for six yards and two scores.
- East Carolina QB Shane Carden completed 29-of-52 passes for 291 yards and three picks, and he ran three times for 14 yards and a touchdown.
- East Carolina RB Vintavious Cooper ran 20 times for 93 yards and two scores, and he caught five passes for 31 yards.
- Marshall RB Essray Taliaferro ran 26 times for 161 yards
at East Carolina 58, Tulsa 24
Basically … East Carolina overcame a lost fumble for a score with 17 unanswered points including a 100-yard pick six from DeShaun Amos with no time left on the clock in the blowout win. Tulsa hunt around early with two scores from Trey Watts, but Shane Carden threw five touchdown passes and ran for two more with two of his touchdown passes going to Isaiah Hones from 18 and 25 yards out.
- East Carolina QB Shane Carden completed 34-of-50 passes for 384 yards and five touchdowns and ran 11 times for 25 yards and two touchdowns.
- Tulsa RB Trey Watts ran 27 times for 120 yards and a score and caught four passes for a team-leading 48 yards and a touchdown.
- East Carolina outgained Tulsa 505 yards to 363 and was +3 in turnover margin.
- Tulsa QB Dane Evans completed 14-of-33 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown with two picks.
East Carolina 42, at NC State 28
Basically … Shane Carden threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more, hitting Justin Hardy for a three-yard touchdown and finding Lance Ray for a 25-yard touchdown for a 42-14 lead late in the fourth. NC State managed just a four-yard Tony Creecy touchdown catch in the first 54 minutes, and scored 14 garbage time points in the final 51 seconds and got three Brandon Mitchell touchdown passes in the last few minutes, connecting with Jurmichael Ramos on touchdown passes from two and 18 yards out.
- East Carolina QB Shane Carden completed 23-of-30 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns, and ran six times for six yards and two touchdowns.
- NC State WR Rashard Smith caught seven passes for 104 yards and a score.
- NC State QB Brandon Mitchell completed 28-of-44 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns.
- East Carolina RB Vintavious Cooper ran 22 times for 148 yards.
East Carolina 34, at FIU 13
Basically … Shane Carden threw three first half touchdown passes with Justin Hardy starting out the scoring with a 44-yard play and DaQuan Barnes catching a 26-yard scoring play on the way to a 21-3 East Carolina lead. FIU rallied back with ten straight points to pull within eight, but Hardy found Isaiah Jones for a 35-yard touchdown and Vintavious Cooper ran for a two-yard touchdown to help the Pirates put it away.
- East Carolina QB Shane Carden completed 23-of-35 passes for 264 yards and three scores.
- FIU came up with just 267 yards of total offense, but it held on to the ball for 40:37.
- FIU WR Jonnu Smith caught ten passes for 97 yards.
- East Carolina WR Justin Hardy caught five passes for 136 yards and a score, and he completed a 35-yard touchdown for a score.
at Tulane 36, East Carolina 33 3OT
Basically … In the third overtime, East Carolina’s Warren Harvey missed a 34-yard field goal, and Cairo Santos nailed his 42-yard attempt to give East Carolina the win. Santos nailed four field goals in regulation, while Harvey hit four field goals of his own, but it was a Vintavious Cooper two-yard touchdown run in the final few minutes to force overtime. Tulane’s offense struggled in regulation, but the defense did the job with a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown from Derrick Strozier for a 16-6 lead going into the fourth quarter. The two teams traded touchdowns in the first two overtimes with Ryan Grant scoring from 25 and six yards out for Tulane, while Reese Wiggins caught a 25-yard touchdown pass and Cooper ran it in from two yards out for the Pirates before Tulane pulled it out in the third overtime.
- East Carolina will be kicking itself. Shane Carden threw for 480 yards, but he threw a very, very bad pick six just as it looked like the Pirates were going to take control of the game. Instead of going up 16-9, it was a 16-6 Tulane lead and ECU had to chase. Too many drives resulted in field goals as things bogged down, but the Pirate defense returned the favor with big stop after big stop, not allowing an offensive touchdown until overtime.
- Take it and run. Tulane has an all-star kicker in Cairo Santos, and he showed how much he’s worth with his 42-yard game-winning field goal. The ten penalties were way too many, and the running game went nowhere, but the bend-but-don’t-break defense bent and bent and bent some more, doing a great job of forcing field goals to stay in the game. The secondary might have been roasted, but it’s a win over a team that might be good enough to win the Conference USA title. Now it’s time to consider the 5-2 team for really big things. There isn’t another game on the schedule the Green Wave can’t win.
East Carolina 24, at Middle Tennessee 17
Basically … ECU’s Shane Carden ran for a score and connected with Justin Hardy for a 21-yard touchdown in a see-saw game that wasn’t put away until late. The scoring pass put the Pirates ahead early in the fourth, but the chance was there for Middle Tennessee late. QB Logan Kilgore threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Logan Kilgore to tie the game late in the third quarter, and he got the ball in his hands after a missed ECU field goal. Damon Magazu came up with the interception, and ECU held on to the ball for the final five minutes.
- Shane Carden continues to be fantastic for the Pirates. It was a dogfight of a game, but Carden kept pressing, completing 43-of-57 passes for 365 yards and a score, spreading the ball around to 12 different receivers. At his best on third downs, he kept his defense off the field.
- Middle Tennessee played well, and it had chances to pull off the key home win, but the running game didn’t get going and the two interceptions from Logan Kilgore proved costly. Like Carden, he found several receivers and moved the ball around – with nine players catching the ball – but he couldn’t come through in crunch time.
East Carolina 55, at North Carolina 31
Basically … Shane Carden threw three touchdown passes and ran for three more as East Carolina rolled at will on the North Carolina defense. The Tar Heels couldn’t keep up early after ECU got up 14-0 on two Carden touchdown passes, and were down 28-10 at halftime on two of Carden’s scoring runs. Bryn Renner kept firing for UNC, throwing three touchdown passes in the second half, including a 56-yarder to Quinshad Davis, but Carden was at it again with a 48-yard scoring play to Lance Ray to put the game well out of reach.
- After a rough game against Virginia Tech, Shane Carden might have come up with his best game as a Pirate, considering the opponent. He completed 32-of-47 passes for 376 yards and three scores with a pick, and he ran for 22 yards and three scores.
- Bryn Renner completed 28-of-46 passes for 366 yards with three scores and a pick, but the stats don’t quite tell the story. He had problems in the first half and he didn’t start getting things moving until the second half in desperate comeback mode.
- Lost in the shuffle in Carder’s tremendous day was a huge performance from Vintavious Cooper, who got rolling for 186 yards on a workhorse 35 carries. He also served as an excellent outlet receiver with eight catches for 70 yards.
- Where’s the North Carolina pass rush? The Tar Heels didn’t come up with a sack, but there was a little bit of pressure. There wasn’t enough to get Carden off his game.
Virginia Tech 15, at East Carolina 10, Sept. 14
Basically … Virginia Tech’s defense allowed just 204 yards of ECU offense and forced a late safety that helped seal the win. The Hokie offense didn’t explode, but Logan Thomas found Demetri Knowles and D.J. Coles for touchdown passes, while the D clamped down after allowing a 22-yard Bryce Williams touchdown catch on ECU’s first drive.
- Where’s the Virginia Tech running game? It’s one thing to get stuffed by Alabama, but East Carolina allowed just 53 yards on 34 carries. The offensive line didn’t generate any sort of a push.
- It’s not like the East Carolina running game did anything, either, finishing with 46 yards on 23 carries. QB Shane Carden took off for a 24-yard dash, but that was it.
- ECU’s Vintavious Cooper tried to do a little of everything for the ECU attack, leading the team with 28 yards rushing and with five catches for 52 yards, but the Virginia Tech defense didn’t allow a thing. The defensive front, led by two sacks from J.R. Collins and James Gayle, finished with seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss. Carden was under pressure all game long.
- ECU’s defense bottled up the Hokie attack with 12 tackles from both Derrell Johnson and Brandon Williams. The Pirates got into the backfield on a regular basis, too.
at East Carolina 31, Florida Atlantic 13, Sept. 5
Basically … East Carolina took advantage of three turnovers and two touchdown passes from Shane Carden to jump out to a 31-6 lead after three quarters. Florida Atlantic managed two come up with two Mitch Anderson field goals early, but was held to a two-yard William Dukes touchdown catch in the final minute. Justin Hardy and Chris Hairston each ran for short scores for the Pirates.
- It wasn’t exactly the smoothest day from East Carolina. There were too many mistakes with seven penalties and two turnovers, but Shane Carden was effective through the air, even if the passing game wasn’t explosive. It was a good midrange attack, but it wasn’t dominant.
- Florida Atlantic had a nightmare of a time in pass protection. Greg Henderson and Jaquez Johnson didn’t have any room or time to operate as ECU was camped out in the backfield all game long.
- ECU’s Lee Pegues came up with a whale of a performance. The senior end made three sacks and was the leader of a good day from the defensive front.
- Neither team ran the ball all that well. FAU was able to keep the ECU ground attack in check, but the offense wasn’t able to take advantage of opportunities. Mitch Anderson missed field goals from 37 and 40 yards out.
at East Carolina 52, Old Dominion 38, Aug. 31
Basically … East Carolina overcame a slew of penalties and a huge day from ODU quarterback Taylor Heinicke to pull away in the fourth quarter. Up 35-31, the Pirates got two of Shane Carden’s five touchdown passes and a Warren Harvey field goal from 46 yard out to take control late.
- Carden was magnificent completing 46-of-54 passes for 447 yards and five scores. ECU all but forgot about the running game and let Carden bomb and bomb some more, getting stopped cold every time the offense tried to grind. Justin Hardy didn’t get any of the five scores, but he made 16 grabs for 191 yards.
- East Carolina’s defense held firm when it had to. The pass defense was non-existent for long stretches, but the ODU running backs didn’t do a thing.
- The Pirates didn’t turn the ball over, but it committed nine penalties.
Why To Get Excited … the quarterback, all-league running back and top receiver are joining forces for another year together in Greenville. The Pirates produced at least 34 points in five of the final seven games, peppering Conference USA defenses with balance. The returns of QB Shane Carden, RB Vintavious Cooper and WR Justin Hardy will give ECU a shot of being even more prolific in 2013.
Why To Be Grouchy … the program’s ceiling will have a hard cap as long as the defense remains a purple sieve. East Carolina was powerless against the better offenses on the schedule, yielding 102 points in the final two games alone. The Pirates are athletic and experienced, particularly at linebacker, but lack the size and fundamentals to make critical stops on a consistent basis.
The Number One Thing To Work On Is … pass defense. While not a lot went right on defense in 2012, East Carolina was especially porous when the ball was in the air. The team gave up 28 touchdown passes, picking off just 10, and rarely shut the door on third downs. FS Damon Magazu can be an enforcer out of the secondary, but the Pirates are banking on someone, like CB Adonis Armstrong, evolving into the type of player who shuts down the other guy’s best receiver.
Non-Conference Games: Old Dominion, Virginia Tech, at North Carolina at NC State
Games Against the West: Tulane, Tulsa
Realistic Best Case Record: 10-2
Worst Case Record: 7-5
Likely Finish: 9-3
Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Old Dominion, Florida Atlantic, at Middle Tennessee, at Tulane, Southern Miss, at FIU, Tulsa, UAB, at Marshall
Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: Virginia Tech, at North Carolina, at NC State
Schedule Analysis: The Pirates aren’t taking it easy with the non-conference slate going to North Carolina and NC State to go along with a home date against Virginia Tech and the season opener against an Old Dominion team that dominated the FCS last season. With four road games in a five game midseason stretch, there’s only one home game against Southern Miss between September 14th and November 9th. Having to face Tulsa from the West is a rough break, but at least the game is at home. If everything goes according to plan, there shouldn’t be any problems in conference play - outside of the showdown against the Golden Hurricane – until the regular season finale at Marshall. That could be for the East title.
Team Concerns For 2013: The Pirates have enough talent returning to win the newly-shaped Conference USA and do it convincingly. However, the pass defense has to be better after getting bombed on regularly, allowing 276 yards per game. Both starting corners - Jacobi Jenkins and Leonard Paulk - have to be replaced in what will be one of the team's biggest position battles. The ground game has to be stronger with Vintavious Cooper needing a bit more room to run for an attack that averaged a mere 135 yards per game.
The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Wide receivers. The Pirates went big on offense last year, too, and now there are more weapons to add to the lot. Linebacker Devaris Brunson is the best new recruit, and offensive tackle Brandon Smith will eventually start, but Isaiah Jones and Trevon Brown could be the keys to a deep group of receivers to help the Ruffin McNeill passing game shine. Kurt Benkert is a good quarterback pickup who committed early and should be a factor by 2015.
2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking:
94. That Class Was Heavy On ... Offense. The Pirates haven’t had too much of a problem putting up points and getting the passing game going under Ruffin McNeill, but now he needs to load up for the near future. More receiver talent is a must, but coming up with more options for the offensive line is also a need that’ll be addressed. After bringing in a slew of defensive backs in 2009, this year’s class needs more for the future.
2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking:
76. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive linemen. What does the worst defense in America need? People who can actually play defense. JUCO defensive ends John Lattimore and Leroy Vick are versatile enough to be moved around, while 290-pound Will Foxx has anchor potential. The biggest position upgrade could be at safety where Danny Webster and Domonique Lennon might be used out of the gate. Offensively, JUCO transfer Reggie Bullock is an intriguingly fast running back.
2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 99. That Class Was
Heavy On ... Offensive
tackles. New head coach Ruffin McNeill didn't have
any time to do anything with the recruiting class,
but he ended up getting four excellent offensive
linemen to contribute right away. JUCO transfer
Anthony Garrett will be an instant factor on the
tackle depth chart, while Drew Gentry and Taylor
Hudson were two of the team's best recruits.
2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 83. That Class Was
Heavy On ... defensive backs. The Pirates have chosen to accentuate a team strength by bolstering an already talented secondary. Six defensive backs are the backbone of a relatively small class put together by Skip Holtz and his assistants. Damonte Terry, the top safety in the mix, is still raw, but has the speed and athletic ability to overshoot his grade at some point down the road.