East Carolina Travels To UAB

UABSPORTS.COM Junior safety Damon Magazu
Junior safety Damon Magazu

Oct. 18, 2012

East Carolina Game 8: UAB
Date Saturday, October 20
Time 7:00 p.m. (EDT)
Location Birmingham, Ala. (Legion Field)
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GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina, which is playing for the eighth consecutive week and for the fifth time on the road already this season, hopes to sharpen its focus on bowl eligibility when it visits UAB for a Conference USA matchup on Saturday, Oct. 20, beginning at 7:00 p.m. (EDT). The Pirates will try to make it two in a row for the first time this season after booking a 41-7 win against Memphis last week. The contest against the Blazers will serve as ECU's last road game until Nov. 17 as Ruffin McNeill's 2012 squad attempts to move to 4-1 in league action for the fifth time in the last six years.

East Carolina Records and Streaks

  • Eleven bowl appearances since 1990; seven since 2000 (five of the last six years) ...
  • Has won five-straight games (and 32 of 37) when scoring 30 or more points ...
  • Has lost 14-straight games when scoring 20 or more less points ...
  • Has won 12 of 13 games when forcing three or more turnovers ...
  • Has won 18 of the last 19 games when converting third downs at 50% or higher ...
  • Has won 17 of the last 25 (and 21 of 30) Conference USA games ...
  • Has won five of the last seven (and six of nine) C-USA road games ...
  • Has won 15 of the last 19 (and 21 of the last 27) C-USA Division games ...
  • Has won 11 of its last 16 C-USA East Division road games ...

The Last Meeting
East Carolina28
September 24, 2011
Greenville, N.C.
East Carolina Edges UAB In Conference USA Opener, 28-23
Despite a school-record seven turnovers, East Carolina (1-2, 1-0 Conference USA) held on for a 28-23 victory over UAB (0-3, 0-2) Saturday afternoon inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Dominique Davis led the Pirates in their Conference USA opener as the senior rifleman threw for 361 yards and three touchdowns.

The Pirates Against the Blazers
East Carolina leads 7-4 ... The Pirates have won five straight and six of the last seven meetings after UAB enjoyed a run of three consecutive victories beginning in 1999 ... The Pirates are just 2-3 in five visits to Birmingham, but have taken five of six in Greenville ... The series dates back to 1998 when ECU defeated the Blazers by a 26-7 score at home.

Ruffin McNeill Against UAB
The 2010 and 2011 matchups against the Blazers as East Carolina's head coach represent Ruffin McNeill's only meetings versus UAB as either a player or coach ... While McNeill's Pirate playing career (1976-79) pre-dates the Blazers' existence as football program (1991), he never had the opportunity to coach against UAB while an assistant on the Appalachian State, East Carolina, UNLV, Fresno State and Texas Tech staffs.

Garrick McGee Against the Pirates
While Saturday's meeting will be Garrick McGee's first against East Carolina as a head coach, he did face the Pirates on one other occasion as assistant (1-0) ... As offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Arkansas in 2009, he helped the Razorbacks edge ECU 20-17 in overtime at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Jan. 2, 2010) in Memphis.

Last Meeting In Birmingham - East Carolina 54 - UAB 42
Running back Jonathan Williams accounted for 291 all-purpose yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winner late in the fourth quarter, to help East Carolina rally past UAB for a 54-42 Conference USA victory on Nov. 11, 2010 ... While his 11-yard scoring reception gave the Pirates a 48-42 lead with 5:48 remaining, a 20-yard run on a first-down play a possession earlier immediately answered a Blazer score and sustained a 27-point effort in the final period ... Trailing 42-40, Dwayne Harris sparked the late heroics with a 56-yard punt return to set up Williams' second TD of the contest ... The Pirates then forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and put the game away when Dominique Davis found Harris on a 10-yard toss with 4:12 left ... Davis completed 26-of-41 passes for 331 yards and five touchdowns, while Williams turned in his top receiving day with five catches for a career-high 115 yards - 77 coming on a third-and-eight snap to key a drive that helped ECU take its first lead of the game, 24-21, just 40 seconds prior to intermission.

Legion Field & Alabama Memories
Before posting a 17-13 victory against the Blazers in 2008 (two visits ago), which also marked East Carolina's first-ever win at Legion Field, the Pirates suffered through a 10-game losing streak in the state of Alabama that spanned 43 years (since 1965) ... In addition to UAB (2-3), ECU has squared off against Auburn (0-3) and Alabama (0-1), and participated in three Alabama-based bowls (0-2/Mobile, 0-1/Birmingham) in the modern era - falling to TCU and Marshall down on the coast in 1999 and 2011, respectively, and to USF in the Magic City (2006).

Against Conference-USA Opponents
Since playing its first season in Conference USA (1997), East Carolina has produced an all-time 68-48 (.586) league record ... Overall, the Pirates have won 17 of the last 25, 21 of the last 30 and 26 of the last 37 C-USA games, while in road league contests, ECU has lost five of the last seven.

Battling Within the East Division
The Pirates are 27-11 (.711) against Conference USA East Division opponents since the league implemented divisional play in 2005 ... ECU is 15-4 at home and 12-7 on the road in games against Marshall, Memphis, Southern Miss, UAB and UCF ... Before taking two of the first three (win at USM, loss at UCF, win vs. MEM) to open league play in 2012, the Pirates were 3-2 in 2011 (wins over UAB, MEM and UCF, losses vs. USM and MAR), 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.

Last Time Out - East Carolina 41 - Memphis 7
Sophomore Shane Carden passed for a 308 yards and five touchdowns while the Pirate defense limited Memphis to only 148 total yards in the first three quarters as East Carolina posted a 41-7 Conference USA victory over the Tigers ... The 34-point win margin was the largest for ECU in the Ruffin McNeill era and highest since 2009, while the seven points were the fewest surrendered by a Pirate defense since defeating West Virginia 24-3 in 2008 ... Carden completed 25-of-33 throws and connected with Justin Jones (3) and Justin Hardy (2) on scoring strikes ... The pair of receivers also combined for 217 yards on 11 catches to help ECU establish an early lead before putting the game away midway through the third period ... The Pirates claimed a 14-0 edge in the first eight minutes of the contest on 67 and 39-yard TD receptions by Hardy and Jones, respectively, but four fumbles and two UM recoveries kept East Carolina's halftime lead to only a 17-0 advantage ... On the other hand, the Pirate defense booked a first-half shutout for the first time since the 2010 Autozone Liberty Bowl and held the Tigers to only 3.4 yards per play (31-105) in the first 30 minutes ... After being forced to punt on its opening possession in the third quarter, ECU scored on its next four drives, which included an 11-yard grab by Hardy and two TD catches by Jones to secure the win ... UM running back Jai Steib prevented the Pirates' first shutout in 12 years when he capped a nine play, 76-yard drive with a three-yard scoring run with 8:59 remaining in the game.

Overall, On The Road - 1-3 in 2012
Since joining C-USA in 1997, East Carolina is 42-61 (.408) when playing away from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium ... The Pirates have dropped three of four road games in 2012, falling at then-No. 9 South Carolina on Sept. 8 before capturing a league victory at USM on Sept. 15 and dropping an in-state clash at UNC on Sept. 22 and a C-USA battle at UCF on Oct. 4 ... A year ago, ECU dropped four of six road contests (wins at Memphis and Navy, losses vs. South Carolina/Charlotte, at Houston, UTEP and Marshall) ... Prior to a 2-5 mark in 2010, the Pirates were 3-4 in 2009 and 5-4 in 2008.

The Pirate Nation - 7 Million Strong
East Carolina has always been able to claim plenty of hometown support, even more so when playing at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturdays during the fall - establishing itself as C-USA's attendance leader on an annual basis ... In all, a total of 7,011,319 fans have seen the Pirates in action since 1963, and in the last four-plus years, ECU has averaged 46,510 (1,209,256/26 regular season games) ... Since the completion of a 7,000-seat expansion project in 2010 that pushed the capacity to 50,000, the Pirates have set back-to-back school records in total attendance and season average attendance, breaking 2010 marks (297,987/49,665) with 300,069 and 50,012 figures in 2011 ... The Pirates have opened the 2012 campaign by welcoming 49,023 to the Appalachian State game (Sept. 1), 47,817 to the UTEP clash (Sept. 29) and 45,137 to the Memphis contest (Oct. 13).

Analyzing the 2012 Starters By Class
The list of starters for ECU's first seven games include three freshmen (CB Josh Hawkins, OLB Montese Overton, NT Terrell Stanley), eight sophomores (SS Desi Brown, QB Shane Carden, OLB Maurice Falls, ILB Jeremy Grove, IWR Justin Hardy, C Taylor Hudson, DE Chrishon Rose, NT Terry Williams), 17 juniors (CB Adonis Armstrong, RB Vintavious Cooper, OG Jordan Davis, RB Michael Dobson, OT Adhem Elsawi, OLB Derrell Johnson, QB Rio Johnson, DE John Lattimore, FS Damon Magazu, FB/IWR Zico Pasut, NT Lee Pegues, OWR Lance Ray, OG Will Simmons, SS Chip Thompson, ILB Kyle Tudor, OWR Reese Wiggins, OLB Gabriel Woullard) and seven seniors (OWR Andrew Bodenheimer, RB Reggie Bullock, NT Michael Brooks, ILB Daniel Drake, IWR Derrick Harris, CB Jacobi Jenkins, OT Robert Jones).

Already A Popular Target
Sophomore IWR Justin Hardy ranks among the top seven active career leaders in receptions per game at 6.06 catches per contest ... He has already surpassed the 100-yard mark three times in 2012 and logged three career double-digit catch games.

Cooper Carrying the Load
Junior RB Vintavious Cooper has led East Carolina in rushing the last six contests, picking up 96 and 58 yards vs. Memphis and UCF, respectively, after booking career highs in carries (23) and yards (151) against UTEP ... His 24-yard scoring run vs. the Miners also represents ECU's only rushing TD by a non-quarterback so far this season ... Cooper (458 yards) currently accounts for over 63 percent of the Pirates' overall rushing yardage in 2012.

Full Speed Ahead
After generating only a combined 461 total yards (230.5 ypg) against Southern Miss (228) and North Carolina (233), East Carolina appears to have found the throttle in its last three games ... The Pirates have racked up a collective 1,206 vs. UTEP (season-high 475), UCF (362) and Memphis (369) - an average of 402.0 yards per contest ... In fact, the 217 ground yards against the Miners was a Ruffin McNeill era-best and the most recorded by the Pirates since amassing 242 against Tulsa on Nov. 15, 2009.

Scoring, Rush Defense
Although East Carolina has surrendered 262.4 passing and 391.4 total yards per game in its first seven contests, its rush defense average of 129.0 ypg currently stands third in Conference USA, 41st nationally and ranks among the program's all-time top 10 list ... In addition, the Pirates' defensive scoring average of 23.9 stands second in C-USA and 48th among all FBS members.

Slowing The Run...Part II
After limiting Marcus Lattimore's (13-40) South Carolina rushing attack to 131 yards on Sept. 8, then surrendering just 91 yards to Southern Miss and only 129 to Giovani Bernard's (18-50) Tar Heel ground game Sept. 22, ECU has held opponents to less than 135 ground yards in seven of its last nine contests dating back to the 2011 campaign (115/UCF, 104/Marshall in `11).

An Encore For Grove
Sophomore ILB Jeremy Grove, who earned inclusion on four Freshman All- America squads in 2011 after booking a rookie school-record 122 stops, currently ranks second nationally among all active career defenders in tackles per game ... He's tallied nine hits in five of seven games this season.

On The First Quarter Rebound
After being held scoreless in the first quarter through their initial four games in `12, the Pirates have answered the bell early lately ... After snapping the drought with a TD against UTEP, East Carolina followed by putting 14 points on the board in the opening 15 minutes in its last two games against UCF and Memphis and have outscored its last three opponents by a 35-14 count.

Playing It Clean
After the first seven contests, the Pirates are the "third-fewest" penalized team in the nation so far this year with only 24 flags thrown their direction... ECU has earned three or less flags in four games so far - two vs. ASU and Memphis, one vs. SC and three vs. UCF

Living A Pirate Life
The Pirates have recorded a takeaway in 24 of its last 27 games ... In all, East Carolina has created two or more turnovers in nine of the last 14 games, which includes two against Memphis, three each vs. Appalachian State and Southern Miss, and a season-high four vs. UTEP this year ... ECU has won 13 of 18 games (13-5) when it forces two or more turnovers in the Ruffin McNeill era, but are just 2-12 in contests when it doesn't ... The Pirates currently rank seventh nationally in fumbles recovered with nine - the third highest total among all FBS programs (trailing Ohio/11, Louisiana Tech/11, Missouri/11, New Mexico/11, Boise State/10 and Tulsa/10).

The Team's Record in 2012
East Carolina's 41-7 win against Memphis on Oct. 13 upped the Pirates' record to 4-3 for the fourth time in the last six years ... In addition to the aforementioned overall record, the Pirates' triumph vs. the Tigers also produced East Carolina's fifth 3-1 C-USA record (after four games) in the last six years.

Hardy Added To Biletnikoff Watch List
East Carolina sophomore inside receiver Justin Hardy has been added to the 2012 Biletnikoff Award Watch List, the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation announced last Tuesday ...The award is presented annually to college football's outstanding receiver ... He along with four others were added to the preseason list of 67 for the award ... In seven games this fall, Hardy currently tops the Pirates with 45 receptions for 617 yards and seven touchdowns ... He's authored three 100-yard receiving contests in 2012, picking up 111 at South Carolina, 119 at UCF and a career-high 137 against Memphis ... He ranks 17th nationally in total reception yards, stands 28th in receiving yards per game (88.1) this season, and from a career standpoint, Hardy's 109 catches in 18 contests (6.06 rpg) rates seventh among all active players on the FBS level.

Conference / National Individual Rankings
Inside receiver Justin Hardy ranks second in the conference in receiving yards per game (88.14), third in receptions per contest (6.43), seventh in all-purpose yards (103.00) and tied for 13th in scoring (6.29) ... He is also among the NCAA leaders and is placed 28th in receiving yards and tied for 32nd in receptions per game ... Quarterback Shane Carden is fourth in passing efficiency (118.84) and seventh in total offense (168.83) ...  Punter Trent Tignor ranks fifth in the conference and 56th in the country in punting (41.32) ... Safety Chip Thompson is tied for fifth in the league in interceptions a game (0.29) ... Kicker Warren Harvey currently is placed seventh in Conference USA in field goals per game (1.14) and 12th in scoring (6.29) ... Kick returner Lance Ray is eighth in kickoff returns with his average of 21.40 per game ... Running back Vintavious Cooper ranks ninth in the conference in rushing (65.43) and 15th in all-purpose yards (80.86).

Conference USA Team Rankings
The Pirates enter this week ranking second in scoring defense (23.86) ... The team has the third stingiest rush (129.00) and total defense (391.43) and is fourth in sacks (1.86), punt returns (9.45) and passing efficiency (128.15) ... ECU is also among the top half of the conference in pass efficiency defense (131.5 - fifth) and passing offense (247.7 - sixth).