Oct. 10, 2013
GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina, enjoying its best start since 1999, will close out first half play of the 2013 regular season when it faces Tulane at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for a Conference USA matchup Saturday beginning at 3:30 p.m. (EDT).
The Pirates will try to continue their momentum after a 24-17 C-USA triumph at Middle Tennessee and extend a seven game league win streak when they meet the Green Wave. The trip to New Orleans will also complete a three-game road swing for ECU, which will return home to battle long-time rival Southern Miss on Oct. 19 for Military Appreciation Day before following with its final off week of the year.
East Carolina Records and Streaks
- Eight bowl appearances since 2000 (six of the last seven years) ...
- Has won 12 of the last 13 games (and 40 of 46) when scoring 30 or more points ...
- Has lost 12-straight games when scoring 20 or less points ...
- Has won 23 of the last 24 games when converting third downs at 50% or higher ...
- Has won eight of the last nine games when forcing two or more turnovers ...
- Has won seven-straight (and 23 of the last 31) Conference USA games ...
- Has won four of the last five C-USA road games ...
- Has won 12 of the last 18 games against C-USA West Division members ...
- Has won five of the last nine road games vs. C-USA West Division members ...
East Carolina leads 10-2 ... The Pirates have won five straight and nine of the last 10 meetings ... ECU has taken three of five battles in New Orleans and never lost to the Green Wave in Greenville (7-0) ... The two programs will continue its series as American Conference members in 2014.
Playing The Wild West - Enjoying A Sweep In `12
East Carolina owns a 15-9 mark (9-3/home, 6-6/road) against the "other side" since the league began divisional play in 2005 - sweeping Tulane (four meetings), taking three of four from UTEP and splitting with SMU (four), Tulsa (four), Rice (four) and Houston (four) ... The Pirates were 3-0 in 2012 after defeating the Green Wave, Cougars and Miners, which followed back-to-back 1-2 marks in 2010 and 2011... ECU was 2-1 in 2009 and also took two of three regular season matchups in 2008 (3-0/2007, 1-2/2006, 2-1/2005) ... On the flipside, East Carolina has booked a 31-11 overall mark against foes in its own East Division.
On The Road - 2-0 In 2013
Since joining C-USA in 1997, East Carolina is 46-62 (.426) when playing away from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium ... Before defeating North Carolina and Middle Tennessee the last two weeks to open their 2013 road schedule, the Pirates were 3-4 in 2012 with wins against Southern Miss, UAB and Tulane and losses vs. South Carolina, UNC, UCF and UL-Lafayette (New Orleans Bowl) ... 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 ... The Pirates will try to move their road record to 3-0 for the first time since 1999 when they meet Tulane in New Orleans Saturday.
Topping All C-USA And Non-AQ BCS Fans
After leading Conference USA in average attendance for the fifth consecutive season and standing first in non-AQ BCS conference member turnstile counts (does not include independents Notre Dame/80,795 and BYU/60,265) for the second-straight year in 2012, East Carolina has opened the 2013 campaign where it left off a year ago ... Overall (123 programs), ECU currently ranks 53rd nationally in average attendance and 58th in capacity percentage (88.15)
League Statistical Comparisons
In its two C-USA contests this year, East Carolina has averaged 27.5 points, 128.0 rushing yards, 283.5 passing yards and 411.5 total yards per game so far ... By comparison, the Pirates have booked 39.0 ppg, 102.3 rypg, 327.0 pypg and 429.3 ypg averages in their three NC tilts.
Shutout-Free ... 198 And Counting
ECU will enter the Tulane contest with an active streak of 198 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 198-game run currently ranks ninth (see below) among all active FBS streaks and is the 20th-longest in the all-time annals.
Ruffin McNeill's "play immediately" count has climbed to 12 during his ECU head coaching tenure ... Five (5) players had have their redshirts removed this season - ILB Devaris Brunson, OR Davon Grayson, IR Isaiah Jones, NT Demetri McGill and IR Jimmy Williams - to join a list of seven others beginning in 2010: 2010 (4) - DE Derrell Johnson, DB Damon Magazu, DE Lee Pegues, H Trent Tignor; 2011 (2) - IR Danny Webster, ILB Brandon Williams; 2012 (1) - OR Jabril Soloman.
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 first 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 ... ECU is currently on pace for a 3,715-yard campaign in 2013 so far after recording 1,548 air yards (309.6 ypg) in contests vs. ODU (447), FAU (202), VT (158), UNC (376) and MTSU (365).
To Pillage And Plunder
The Pirates have recorded a takeaway in 33 of its last 38 games ... Additionally, East Carolina has created two or more turnovers in 14 of the last 25 games ... After collecting one in the 2013 opener vs. Old Dominion, ECU nabbed three vs. FAU, one each vs. Virginia Tech and North Carolina before getting two at Middle Tennessee ... ECU has won 17 of 23 games when it forces two or more turnovers in the Ruffin McNeill era, but are just 6-14 in contests when it doesn't ... "PICK" HIT: of ECU's last 23 interceptions (2011-2013), only seven (7) have come on the road (1/UNC, 2/MTSU in `13).
Damage Control - A Good 1-For-7
East Carolina has done a good job minimizing damage after turnovers so far this season, keeping opponents to just three points in seven opportunities ... The Pirates forced three punts, a pair of missed field goal attempts and stalled another drive (downs) after handing out freebies against FAU (2), VT (3) and UNC (1) before finally surrendering a field goal at MTSU.
Turning The Tide ... Defensively
The arrival of new defensive coordinator Rick Smith has made an early impact on that side of the ball for the Pirates ... East Carolina stands among C-USA's top four units in three major categories after just five games, including a top rank in rush defense ... In fact, ECU has surrendered only a combined 403 ground yards so far this year - the fewest allowed in the same season-opening span in the modern era (since 1965):
() denotes C-USA statistical rank
Stopping The Run
After surrendering a combined 185.3 rushing yards per game over the last three campaigns, the Pirates have addressed the matter by allowing less than 100 ground yards in four of their first five contests this year (90 vs. ODU, 53 vs. VT, 67 vs. UNC and 89 vs. MTSU) ... In addition, East Carolina has yet to give up a single run over 15 yards in 155 total carries this season.
Return Game Gains
East Carolina's return units have gotten off to a notable start in 2013, ranking sixth (kickoff) and 37th (punt) nationally after the first five contests ... The Pirates average 11.2 yards per punt return and 29.7 yards per kickoff return - the latter sparked by senior Lance Ray's 30.4 ypr clip (11th/FBS).
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 47 of ECU's 66 offensive TDs (71.2 percent) as the Pirates' starter: 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, 6-7/UNC, 2-3/MTSU ...
- Has converted 69-of-75 redzone opportunities while under center ...
- Established an ECU single-game record with 447 passing yards and 46 completions vs. Old Dominion and logged the program's second-highest completion percentage ever (85.2) ... Was 29-of-35 for 266 yards in first-half action vs. the Monarchs after starting the contest nine-of-nine) ...
- The 447 yards currently ranks as the 11th-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) ...
- Directly responsible for six TDs at North Carolina (3 pass, career-high-matching 3 rush) and was 32-of-47 for 376 yards through the air ...
- Earned his fourth and fifth career Conference USA Offensive Player-of-the-Week honor for his efforts vs. Monarchs and Tar Heels, and earned an ESPN Helmet Sticker for his performance in Chapel Hill ...
- Threw for 365 yards on a career-high 57 attempts at MTSU, completing 43 - which stands fourth on the FBS single-game list in 2013 ... Was 16-of-18 for 144 yards and a TD in fourth quarter action alone vs. Blue Raiders ... In addition, personally accounted for 14 of ECU's season-high 17 third down conversions (12 completions/113 yards, 2 rushes/17 yards) ...
- Currently ranks among FBS active career leaders in completion percentage (2nd/68.6), completions per game (7th/22.6), passing attempts per game (11th/33.0), total offense per game (19th/250.2) and pass efficiency rating (21st/144.87) ...
- Led all ECU ball-carriers with eight ground TDs in 2012 and already has reached half of that total in 2013 with four ...
- 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 ...
Tay Cooper: Looking For An Encore
Senior Vintavious Cooper, who is East Carolina's first returning 1,000-yard rusher since 2004, is making progress on a repeat performance with a team-best 372 yards so far - 186 coming on a personal-high effort at North Carolina on Sept. 28 that also marked his fifth career century-mark outing.
Providing Plenty Of Pressure
The Pirates stand 15th nationally with 15 sacks (-90 yards) after their first five games - the highest total (in a similar time span) during the Ruffin McNeill era dating back to 2010 ... DEs Lee Peques and Terrell Stanley headline a list of nine defenders who have recorded at least a half of a quarterback drop this season ... Pegues and Stanley have each tallied a unit-high 3.5 and both rank 38th nationally among all pass rushers... On a related note, ECU has also been credited with 11 quarterback hurries so far.