Oct. 17, 2013
GREENVILLE, N.C. - It's Military Appreciation Day at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium as East Carolina hosts Southern Miss in a Conference USA clash Saturday beginning at 12 noon.
The Pirates will try to regain some momentum after a 36-33 triple-overtime setback at Tulane when they play their first home game in over a month. In addition to closing out the October portion of ECU's slate, the contest will mark the last scheduled regular season meeting between two programs that have played annually for 31-straight years and share a 38-game series dating back to 1951.
East Carolina Records and Streaks
- Eight bowl appearances since 2000 (six of the last seven years) ...
- Has won 12 of the last 14 games (and 40 of 47) 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 of the last eight (and 23 of the last 32) Conference USA games ...
- Has won six-straight, 18 of the last 20 (and 23 of 27) C-USA home games ...
- Has won five-straight (and 19 of the last 23) C-USA East Division games ...
- Has won 14 of the last 15 C-USA East Division home games ...
Southern Miss leads 27-11, but the Pirates have won three of the last four meetings (and four of the last seven) ... ECU has dropped 11 of 19 in Hattiesburg while posting a 3-16 mark against the Golden Eagles in Greenville ... The 38-game series marks ECU's longest against any opponent.
Battling Within The East Division - 2-0 In 2013
The Pirates are 31-11 (.738) against Conference USA East Division opponents since the league implemented divisional play in 2005 ... ECU is 17-4 at home and 14-7 on the road in games against Marshall, Southern Miss, UAB, Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee (and current AAC members UCF and Memphis) ... Before taking four of five (win at USM, loss at UCF, wins vs. MEM, UAB and MAR) in 2012, the Pirates were 3-2 in 2011, 4-1 in 2010, 5-0 in 2009, 4-1 in 2008, 3-2 in 2007, 4-1 in 2006 and 2-3 in 2005 ... In all, East Carolina will enter the Southern Miss clash having won five straight and 19 of its last 23 games against East Division members.
At Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium - 2-1 In 2013
East Carolina's all-time record at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is 169-86-1 (.662) ... The Pirates opened the facility on Sept. 21, 1963 with a 20-10 win over Brian Piccolo and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in front of 17,000 fans and are celebrating the stadium's 50th anniversary this fall ... Before a 5-1 mark in 2012, a 3-3 ledger in 2011 and a 4-2 clip in 2010, ECU won a combined 10 of 12 home matchups in 2009 (6-1) and 2008 (4-1) ... Overall, ECU has turned in 37 winning seasons at DFS.
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 59th in capacity percentage (88.15).
League Statistical Comparisons
In its three C-USA contests this year, East Carolina has averaged 29.3 points, 106.3 rushing yards, 349.0 passing yards and 455.3 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 ... 199 And Counting
ECU will enter the Southern Miss contest with an active streak of 199 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 199-game run currently ranks ninth 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 ... Ruffin 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 4,056-yard campaign in 2013 so far after recording 2,028 air yards (338.0 ypg) in contests vs. ODU (447), FAU (202), VT (158), UNC (376), MTSU (365) and TLN (480).
Living A Pirate's Life
The Pirates have recorded a takeaway in eight-straight (and 23 of the last 26) 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 and another at Tulane ... ECU has won 17 of 23 games when it forces two or more turnovers in the Ruffin McNeill era, but are just 6-15 in contests when it doesn't.
Fourth Quarter Advantage
East Carolina's most productive quarter so far this year has been the fourth with the most points scored (50) and the fewest allowed (26) ... In fact, the Pirates have surrendered only one fourth period TD in the last four games.
Turning The Tide ... Defensively
The arrival of new defensive coordinator Rick Smith has made a visible impact on that side of the ball for the Pirates ... East Carolina stands among C-USA's top three units in three major categories after just six games, including a top rank in rush defense ... In fact, ECU has surrendered only a combined 488 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
"D" Addendum: Stopping The Run
After surrendering a combined 185.6 rushing yards per game over the last three campaigns, the Pirates have addressed the matter by allowing less than 100 ground yards in five of their first six contests this year (90 vs. ODU, 53 vs. VT, 67 vs. UNC, 89 vs. MTSU, 85 vs. TLN) ... In addition, ECU has yet to give up a single run over 20 yards in 183 total carries this season.
Return Game Gains
East Carolina's kickoff return unit enjoyed a notable first half of the 2013 season, currently ranking fifth at the FBS level after the first six contests ... The Pirates average 29.5 yards per return - the latter sparked by senior Lance Ray's 30.2 ypr clip, which is 12th nationally this week.
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 48 of ECU's 69 offensive TDs (69.6 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, 1-3/TLN ...
- Has converted 75-of-82 redzone opportunities while under center ...
- Has established an ECU single-game passing record on three occasions - 439 vs. Marshall in 2012, 447 vs. Old Dominion and 480 vs. Tulane in 2013 ... His effort vs. the Monarchs included a 46-of-54 performance - the program's second-highest completion percentage ever (85.2) ...
- The 480-yard outing vs. the Green Wave currently ranks as the sixth-highest single-game passing total at the FBS level this season, while his 46 completions vs. ODU 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 ... His 41 completions vs. Tulane ranks seventh on the same list as well ...
- Is a combined 26-of-32 for 285 yards and a TD in last two fourth quarters, leading ECU to a win at MTSU and rallying to force OT at Tulane ...
- Currently ranks among FBS active career leaders in completion percentage (4th/69.1), completions per game (5th/23.6), pass yards per game (8th/256.7), pass attempts per game (10th/34.1), total offense per game (15th/260.4) and pass efficiency rating (20th/145.30) ...
- Led all ECU ball-carriers with eight ground TDs in 2012 and already has reached half of that total in 2013 with four ...
- 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 ...
Justin Hardy Ranks Among The Finest
Junior IR Justin Hardy currently ranks third among all active FBS players nationally in receptions per game ... His 17-catch, 230-yard effort against Tulane last week marked the sixth double-digit catch and seventh 100-yard receiving yard contests of his career.
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 459 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.