Sept. 26, 2013
GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina will open its 2013 road schedule by playing its second-straight Atlantic Coast Conference opponent when the Pirates travel to Chapel Hill Saturday to battle North Carolina at Kenan Stadium. The meeting against the Tar Heels will begin a three-game road swing for ECU, which will return to C-USA play next week when it visits Middle Tennessee.
East Carolina, which will try to improve its record to 3-1 for only the second time since 2000, will also be looking to become the first Pirate squad to capture a victory in an ACC stadium since 2006 (21-16 at NC State) and end a run of seven-straight setbacks.
East Carolina Records and Streaks
- Eight bowl appearances since 2000 (six of the last seven years) ...
- Has won 11 of the last 12 games (and 39 of 45) when scoring 30 or more points ...
- Has lost 12-straight games when scoring 20 or less points ...
- Has won 21 of the last 22 games when converting third downs at 50% or higher ...
- Has won seven of the last eight games when forcing two or more turnovers ...
North Carolina leads 12-2-1 ... The 2013 clash between the Pirates and Tar Heels will mark the fourth meeting in the series' last five contests at Kenan Stadium ... East Carolina's only wins against UNC came in 1975 and via a time-expiring 39-yard field goal by Ben Hartman in a 2007 matchup at Greenville's Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium ... The 24-24 deadlock in 1979 represents one of two all-time ties in ECU's history against current FBS members (Louisiana Tech/'89).
East Carolina Against The Atlantic Coast Conference
East Carolina has compiled an all-time record of 34-78-1 (.305) against current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference ... In addition to a 2-12-1 mark against North Carolina, the Pirates own an 11-16 ledger against NC State, 5-5 vs. Duke, 5-13 vs. Virginia Tech, 3-6 vs. Syracuse, 2-1 vs. Virginia, 2-2 vs. Pittsburgh, 2-6 vs. Wake Forest, 2-9 vs. Miami, 0-7 vs. Florida State and 0-1 vs. Maryland ... The Pirates have dropped 11 of the last 12 (since 2008) after capturing five wins in eight contests the previous three years ... ECU's 33-27 overtime decision against NC State on Oct. 16, 2010 halted a six-game slide, which included earlier 2010 setbacks to Virginia Tech and North Carolina.
Pirate Career Numbers Against The Tar Heels
A total of three (3) East Carolina offensive skill players and 12 defenders have experienced action in at least two battles against North Carolina during their careers ... A closer look: ILB Desi Brown - 2 games, 1 tackle; SS Michael Dobson - 3 games, 2-33 KOR; OLB Maurice Falls - 2 games, 3 tackles (2 solo), 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 FF, 1 PBU; OLB Jake Geary - 2 games, no stats; ILB Jeremy Grove - 2 games, 22 tackles (12 solo), 3 TFL; IR Justin Hardy - 2 games, 14-98 receiving; ILB Ty Holmes - 2 games, 1 PBU; CB Lamar Ivey - 2 games, 3 tackles (1 solo); OLB Derrell Johnson - 3 games, 15 tackles (7 solo), 1 TFL; FS Damon Magazu - 3 games, 12 tackles (5 solo); DE Lee Pegues - 2 games, 4 tackles (1 solo); ILB Kyle Tudor - 2 games, 9 tackles (2 solo); IR Danny Webster - 2 games, 6-57, 1 TD receiving, 1-16 KOR; OR Reese Wiggins - 2 games, 3-36 receiving; NT Terry Williams - 2 games, 7 tackles (1 solo), 1 TFL.
Back-To Back Challenges
ECU will face automatic-qualifying BCS opponents in successive games for the ninth time since 2005 - 1-2 in 2005 (Duke/WFU/WVU), 1-1 twice in 2006 (WVU/UVA and NCSU/USF), 1-1 in 2007 (VT/UNC), 2-0 in 2008 (VT/WVU), 0-2 in 2009 (WVU/UNC), 0-2 in 2010 (VT/UNC) and 0-2 in 2011 (SC/VT).
On The Road - 3-4 In 2012
Since joining C-USA in 1997, East Carolina is 44-62 (.415) when playing away from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium ... The Pirates were 3-4 in 2012, dropping non-league contests at then-No. 9 South Carolina on Sept. 8, North Carolina on Sept. 22 and UL-Lafayette on Dec. 22 (New Orleans Bowl), while taking three of four league battles with wins at Southern Miss (Sept. 15), UAB (Oct. 20) and Tulane (Nov. 17), and a loss at UCF (Oct. 4) ... In 2011, ECU fell in four of six (2-4) road contests and were 2-5 in 2010, 3-4 in 2009 and 5-4 in 2008.
Shutout-Free ... 196 And Counting
ECU will enter the North Carolina contest with an active streak of 196 games of not suffering a shutout - a new school record (17 points at Rice in `06 surpassed the previous mark of 110 set from 1971 to 1981) ... The last time the Pirates were blanked was on Oct. 4, 1997 (56-0 at Syracuse) ... In terms of a national standing, East Carolina's 196-game run currently ranks ninth among all active FBS streaks and is the 20th-longest in the all-time annals.
Bypassing The Redshirt
With true freshmen receivers Davon Grayson (OR) and Isaiah Jones (IR), and inside linebacker Devaris Brunson all experiencing action thus far, head coach Ruffin McNeill's "play immediately" count has increased to 10 since his arrival at ECU in 2010 ... A year ago, OR Jabril Soloman made his debut, while IR Danny Webster and ILB Brandon Williams played during their rookie campaigns in 2011 (and a total of four players were used in 2010) ... Grayson and Jones scored a combined five touchdowns in their first two games against Old Dominion and Florida Atlantic, while Brunson was "activated" for the Virginia Tech contest and tallied a solo stop.
Ruffin McNeill's Offensive M.O.
Although the unit featured only three senior starters, East Carolina's offense passed for 3,551 yards in 2012 - the second-highest total in program history ... Coach McNeill's fi rst squad set the standard in 2010 with 4,143 air yards before his second edition followed with 3,433 yards in 2011, thus giving him the top three single-season passing seasons in the Pirate record books ... So far this year, ECU has recorded 807 air yards (269.0 ypg) in contests vs. Old Dominion (447), Florida Atlantic (202) and Virginia Tech (158).
Redzone Run Halted, But Still Impressive
ECU had its run of consecutive redzone conversions halted at 47 (41 TDs, 6 FGs) straight by Florida Atlantic on Sept. 5 ... After scoring on its first five trips inside the 20, the Pirates lost a fumble at the Owl 11-yard line to end a streak that began vs. Memphis on Oct. 13, 2012 ... ECU is currently 11-of-12 in 2013 (91.7%) after a 50-of-54 clip (92.6%) a year ago, which stood third among all FBS programs ... The Pirates failed to penetrate the 20-yard line (0-of-0 in the redzone) against Virginia Tech on Sept. 14 - a first for East Carolina since the 2003 season opener (Sept. 1 at Cincinnati during a 40-3 loss in then-head coach John Thompson's debut).
Living A Pirate's Life
The Pirates have recorded a takeaway in 31 of its last 36 games ... In all, East Carolina has created two or more turnovers in 13 of the last 23 games, which includes two each against Memphis, Houston and UL Lafayette, three each vs. Appalachian State, Southern Miss and Marshall, and a season-high four vs. UTEP last year ... After collecting just one in the 2013 opener vs. Old Dominion, ECU nabbed three vs. FAU and followed with another vs. Virginia Tech ... ECU has won 16 of 22 games when it forces two or more turnovers in the Ruffin McNeill era, but are just 5-14 in contests when it doesn't ... "PICK" HIT: of ECU's last 20 interceptions (2011-2013), only four (4) have come on the road (2/MEM in `11, 1/USM and 1/ULL in `12).
Damage Control 101
East Carolina has done a good job minimizing damage after turnovers so far this season, keeping opponents scoreless in five opportunities ... The Pirates have forced two punts, a pair of missed field goal attempts and stalled another drive (downs) after handing out freebies against Florida Atlantic (2) and Virginia Tech (3).
Turning The Tide ... Defensively
The arrival of new defensive coordinator Rick Smith appears to have made an early impact on that side of the ball for the Pirates ... East Carolina stands among C-USA's top three units in three of the four major categories after just three games, including a top rank in rush defense ... In fact, ECU has surrendered only a combined 247 ground yards so far this year - the fewest allowed in the same season-opening span since 2007.
Notebooking Shane Carden
Although initially passed over for the starting position to open the 2012 season, junior Shane Carden took over the job prior to ECU's third game and responded with 3,116 aerial yards - the Pirates' third-highest single-season passing total in school history:
- Has accounted for 39 of ECU's 56 offensive TDs as the Pirates' top quarterback (1-1/SC, 2-2/USM, 3-4/UTEP, 2-2/UCF, 5-5/MEM, 2-5/UAB, 1-4/NAVY, 4-5/UH, 3-4/TLN, 6-9/MAR, 2-4/ULL, 5-6/ODU, 2-4/FAU, 1-1/VT) ...
- Has converted 58-of-62 redzone opportunities while under center ...
- Established an ECU single-game record with 447 passing yards and 46 completions vs. Old Dominion on Aug. 31 and logged the program's second-highest completion percentage (85.2) in a career-high 54 attempts ... Was 29-of-35 for 266 yards in first-half action vs. the Monarchs (15-of-17, 139 yards in the first quarter after starting the contest nine-of-nine) ...
- The 447 yards currently ranks as the seventh-highest single-game passing total at the FBS level this season, while his 46 completions stands second nationally behind Fresno State's Derek Carr (52 vs. Rutgers) ...
- Earned fourth career Conference USA Offensive Player-of-the Week honor for his efforts, which also included five TD throws, against ODU ...
- Currently ranks among FBS active career leaders in completions per game (12th/20.9), passing attempts per game (18th/30.8), pass efficiency rating (19th/145.30) and total offense per game (23rd/234.6) ...
- Led all ECU ball-carriers with eight ground TDs in 2012 ...
- Threw for a then-record 439 yards vs. Marshall during the 2012 regular season finale (38-of-47) ...
- Has matched a single-game school record with five TD passes on two occasions - vs. Memphis (2012) and Old Dominion (2013) ...
- Posted career-bests in rushing yards (63) vs. UTEP and ground TDs (3) vs. Marshall ...
- Made first collegiate start at Southern Miss and rallied Pirates to a C-USA win with a strong second-half performance (7-of-10, 93 yards) ...
- Came off the bench to open the second half and directed East Carolina's only two scoring drives against then-No. 9 South Carolina (FG, TD) ...
- After getting intercepted on first collegiate pass vs. Gamecocks, bounced back to hit 12-of-17 throws, including first career completion - a 14-yarder ...
1K Repeat Hopes For Cooper
For the first time since 2004, East Carolina returns a 1,000-yard rusher in senior Vintavious Cooper ... Cooper was the Pirates' top ground gainer in 11 of the last 12 contests as a junior and became the 12th ECU RB in history to produce a 1,000-yard rushing season when he totaled 1,049 a year ago - a first for a Pirate since 2009 ... Similar to last year, he's gotten off to a slow start with 161 yards on 40 carries in three games (85-22 in three contests a year ago) ... After posting a 95-yard, one-touchdown effort on 20 attempts vs. Florida Atlantic on Sept. 5, he was held to 28 yards on just eight carries vs. Virginia Tech - his fewest rushes since last Sept. 22/at UNC.
A Pass-Catching Option
Vintavious Cooper has been a viable pass-catching weapon out of the backfield in 2013, grabbing 12 balls for 115 yards ... His reception total is the most by a Pirate RB after three games since Jon Williams had 15 in 2010, while his yardage clip trails only Chris Johnson's mark of 165 in 2007.
A Sterling Debut
True freshman OR Davon Grayson has enjoyed quite a start to his collegiate career, not only starting his first three contests, but pulling down four touchdowns in his first eight receptions (63 total yards) ... After establishing an ECU single-game true rookie record with three scoring grabs vs. ODU, he followed with another TD catch against FAU to currently rank as one of the nation's freshmen (non-kick) scoring leaders.
||Tyler Boyd (RD)
||Davon Grayson (WR)
||Matt Dayes (RB)
||Shock Linwood (RB)
||William Houston (RB)
||Mitch Leidner (QB)
Delivering Some Heat
The Pirates have netted 10 sacks (-43 yards) in their first three games - the highest total (in a similar time span) during the Ruffin McNeill era dating back to 2010 ... DE Lee Peques and seven other defenders have recorded at least a half of a quarterback drop this season ... Pegues has tallied a unit-high three sacks, which currently stands 11th nationally ... On a related note, ECU has also been credited with eight quarterback hurries in three games.