Nov. 15, 2012
GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina will close out its 2012 regular season road schedule when it travels to New Orleans on Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. (EST) Conference USA matchup against Tulane. The Pirates, who reached bowl-eligible status for the sixth time in seven years by defeating Houston two weeks ago, can also guarantee their first winning campaign since 2009 with a victory against the Green Wave. In addition, ECU will be looking to extend a three-game C-USA win streak and complete the `12 league road schedule at 3-1 before welcoming Marshall to Greenville next Friday.
East Carolina Records and Streaks
- Qualified for 12 bowls since 1990; eight since 2000 (six of last seven years) ...
- Has won eight-straight games (and 36 of 41) when scoring 30 or more points ...
- Has lost 11-straight games when scoring 20 or less points ...
- Has won 20 of the last 21 games when converting third downs at 50% or higher ...
- Has lost 13-straight games when surrendering 200 or more rushing yards ...
- Has won three-straight (and 19 of 27) Conference USA games ...
- Has lost five of the last eight (and six of 10) C-USA road games ...
- Has won 11 of the last 17 games against C-USA West Division members ...
- Has split its last eight (4-4) road games vs. C-USA West Division members ...
The Last Meeting
October 29, 2011
The Pirates Against the Green Wave
East Carolina leads 9-2 ... The Pirates have won four straight and eight of the last nine meetings ... The two teams have split four battles in New Orleans, while ECU has never lost to the Green Wave in Greenville (7-0) ... The Pirates are averaging 32.7 points a game in a series that was first played in 1991.
Ruffin McNeill Against Tulane
Last year's contest against Tulane represented Ruffin McNeill's first-ever meeting versus the Green Wave as either a player or coach ... While McNeill's Pirate playing career (1976-79) pre-dates the series opener in 1991, he also has never had the opportunity to coach against Tulane while on the Appalachian State (1991, 1993-96), East Carolina (1992), UNLV (1997-98), Fresno State (1999) and Texas Tech (2000-09) staffs as an assistant.
Curtis Johnson Against the Pirates
While Saturday's meeting will be Curtis Johnson's first against the Pirates as a head coach, he did face East Carolina on three (1-2) prior occasions while on the Miami (Fla.) staff as receivers coach ... ECU defeated the Hurricanes in 1996 (31-6) and 1999 (27-23) before falling in 2003 (38-3).
Last Meeting In New Orleans - East Carolina 28 - Tulane 24
Senior quarterback Patrick Pinkney capped a game-winning nine-play, 80-yard scoring drive with a 24-yard scoring pass to Jamar Bryant with 1:41 remaining to rally No. 14 East Carolina to a 28- 24 Conference USA road win over Tulane ... Trailing 24-21 with the Green Wave in possession of the ball at the ECU 36-yard line with 6:39 to play following a fumble recovery, the Pirate defense stiffened and forced Tulane to punt after three plays ... In addition to a pair of quarterback draws that picked up 24 yards, Pinkney connected with freshman Darryl Freeney on a 27-yarder and Dwayne Harris on a 13-yard toss to set up the game-winner to Bryant, which came on a second and-15 call ...The Pirates simply survived their first test as a ranked team, outlasting a Green Wave squad which forced four turnovers and held ECU to just 56 rushing yards ... The two teams traded touchdowns and momentum during the afternoon until Tulane took its first lead of the game on Ross Thevenot's 28-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter ... For the second time on the season, East Carolina cashed in a blocked kick as Quentin Cotton scooped up C.J. Wilson's block of a Green Wave field goal try and rambled 44 yards into the endzone for an early 7-0 lead ...Tulane held ECU to just 76 total yards in the opening 30 minutes and produced just 10 points off four turnovers which all came inside the Pirate 36-yard line ... Pinkney, who was just 5-of-10 passing for 57 yards in the first half, used 11 straight completions to finish the contest with a 22-of-32 success rate, 260 yards and two TDs - the other coming on a 51-yard strike to Norman Whitley.
Ranked Pirates vs. Green Wave ... Clock Rewind
In three of the 11 meetings between East Carolina and Tulane, the Pirates have entered the contest holding a place in Top 25 polls ... Most recently, ECU was No. 14 in the Associated Press poll prior to the 2008 clash at the then-Louisiana Superdome after knocking off No. 17 Virginia Tech (27-22) and No. 8 West Virginia (24-3) to open the campaign ... The 1999 Pirates were No. 20 when they routed the Green Wave 52-7 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium after a No. 17 ECU squad posted a 38-28 victory in the series opener on Nov. 2, 1991 ... All three teams advanced to bowl contests (one win).
Facing the Bayou State
The Pirates have posted a 17-11-1 (.603) all-time record against programs from Louisiana ... ECU is 9-2 against Tulane, 4-6 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (formerly Southwestern Louisiana), 3-2-1 vs. Louisiana Tech and 1-1 vs. Louisiana-Monroe (formerly Northeast Louisiana).
Ruffin McNeill vs. Louisiana
Ruffin McNeill has recorded an all-time record of 3-0 when coaching against Louisiana programs ... Prior to last year's ECU victory over Tulane, McNeill's Texas Tech Red Raiders blanked Louisiana-Lafayette 26-0 in 2000 before routing FCS member Northwestern State 75-7 in 2007.
Feeling Refreshed or Shaking Off the Rust
The Pirates haven't taken advantage of open weeks lately, dropping nine of their last 13 (4-9) contests following an off "day" in the last 10 years: 2002 (L/WVU, L/USF), 2003 (L/TLN), 2004 (L/ CIN, L/USM), 2005 (L/WFU, L/TLS), 2006 (W/UVA), 2007 (W/TLN), 2008 (L/UVA, W/UCF), 2009 (no true off-week/three-straight non-Saturday games), 2010 (L/UNC) and 2011 (W/UAB) ... This year's bye week marks the second-latest in the 10-year span, trailing only a Nov. 17 free date in 2007 ... Since 1965 (start of the modern era), East Carolina is 24-18 in games after a break.
Playing The Wild West - Going For The Sweep in `12
East Carolina owns a 14-9 mark (9-3/home, 5-6/road) against the "other side" since the league began divisional play in 2005 - sweeping Tulane (three meetings), taking three of four from UTEP and splitting with SMU (four), Tulsa (four), Rice (four) and Houston (four) ... The Pirates were 1-2 in 2011 after defeating the Green Wave and falling to the Cougars and Miners after a similar 1-2 ledger in Ruffin McNeill's first campaign (2010) ... 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 28-11 overall mark against foes in its own East Division.
League Statistical Comparison
In its six C-USA contests this year, East Carolina has averaged 33.8 points, 143.0 rushing yards, 287.7 passing yards and 430.7 total yards per game so far ... By comparison, the Pirates only booked 19.8 ppg, 117.8 rypg, 223.2 pypg and 341.0 ypg averages in their four NC tilts.
Last Time Out - East Carolina 48 - Houston 28
Sophomore quarterback Shane Carden's four first-half touchdown passes and junior running back Vintavious Cooper's 140 rushing yards powered East Carolina to a 48-28 Conference USA win over Houston ... The Pirates gained control of the contest early by jumping out to a 28-0 lead, but the Cougars trimmed the deficit to a pair of scores early in the third quarter before ECU used two Warren Harvey field goals and a 22-yard Cooper touchdown run to secure the victory ... The Pirates gave Houston a dose of its own recent medicine, racking up 550 yards on 98 plays that consumed 44:08 off the clock .... Defensively, East Carolina held the Cougars to -4 rushing yards in the final 30 minutes of play and allowed just 28 yards on 11 carries the entire afternoon ... The Pirates were equally as dominant on offense in the first half, converting nine of its 12 third-down snaps and rolling up 345 total yards - 250 coming from Carden (215 passing, 35 rushing) ... Carden established career-bests in attempts (43) and completions (31) to account for 305 air yards.
Overall On The Road - 2-3 in 2012
Since joining C-USA in 1997, East Carolina is 43-61 (.413) when playing away from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium ... The Pirates have lost three of five road games in 2012, dropping non-league contests at then-No. 9 South Carolina on Sept. 8 and North Carolina on Sept. 22, while taking two of three league battles with wins at Southern Miss (Sept. 15) and UAB (Oct. 20), and a loss at UCF (Oct. 4) ... A year ago, ECU fell in four of six road contests (triumphs 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 7,105,101 fans have seen the Pirates in action since 1963, and in the last four-plus years, ECU has averaged 46,537 (1,303,038/28 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, 47,817 to the UTEP clash, 45,137 to the Memphis contest, 48,327 to the Navy battle and 45,455 to the Houston tilt.
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), nine sophomores (SS Desi Brown, QB Shane Carden, OLB Maurice Falls, ILB Jeremy Grove, IWR Justin Hardy, C Taylor Hudson, DE Chrishon Rose, IWR Danny Webster, 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 eight seniors (OWR Andrew Bodenheimer, RB Reggie Bullock, NT Michael Brooks, C Josh Clark, ILB Daniel Drake, IWR Derrick Harris, CB Jacobi Jenkins, OT Robert Jones).
Shutout Free ... 190 and Counting
ECU will enter the Tulane contest with an active streak of 190 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 190-game run currently ranks ninth among all active FBS streaks and is the 20th-longest in the all-time annals.
Already A Popular Target
Sophomore IWR Justin Hardy ranks among the top five active career leaders in receptions per game ... He has already surpassed the 100-yard mark four times in 2012 and logged three career double-digit catch games.
Cooper A Committee Of One
Junior RB Vintavious Cooper has led East Carolina in rushing the last nine contests, and in the last six games (UTEP, UCF, MEM, UAB, Navy, UH), has averaged 123.0 ground yards per outing ... He followed a 151-yard performance with 58 and 96 yards vs. the Knights and Tigers, respectively, before booking a career-high 172 yards against the Blazers - the highest rushing total by a Pirate since 2009 (172 by Dominique Lindsay vs. MEM) - and adding 121 against Navy and 140 vs. the Cougars (on a personal-best 33 carries) ... Cooper (891 yards) currently accounts for nearly 70 percent (67.0) of the Pirates' overall rushing total in 2012 and needs just 109 more to become ECU's first 1,000-yard rusher since Lindsay (1,180 in `09) ... From a scoring standpoint, Cooper's 22-yard touchdown run vs. Houston marked his fifth TD (four rushing, one receiving) in the last three games.
Cooper's three-straight triple-digit rushing efforts (UAB/Navy/UH) are the first by a Pirate since Marvin Townes tallied 118, 100 and 184 vs. Houston, North Carolina and Army, respectively, during the 2003 campaign ... Leonard Henry was the last ECU back to record four or more consecutive 100-yard rushing contests - picking up 218 (TLN), 111 (W&M), 177 (SYR), 105 (UNC), 156 (Army) and 132 (MEM) during a six-game successive span in 2001.
C-USA Offensive Prowess
After generating only 228 total yards in its Conference USA opener at Southern Miss, East Carolina appears to have found its offensive throttle in its last five league games ... The Pirates have racked up a collective 2,356 vs. UTEP (475), UCF (362), Memphis (369), UAB (season-high 600) and Houston (550) - an average of 471.2 yards per contest ... In fact, the 600 total yards gained against the Blazers ranked as the eighth-best performance in program history (fourth-highest ever logged on the road).
Band On The Run
The Pirates have posted the top three single-game rushing totals of the Ruffin McNeil era this season, following up a 217-yard effort against UTEP with a 214-yard outing at UAB and a season-high 245-yard performance versus Houston ... ECU's collective ground total of 459 yards against the Blazers and Cougars are more than the first four C-USA games combined (399).
Rolling The Dice Well
The Pirates rank among the nation's top five in fourth down conversion percentage this season, successfully handling seven-of-eight attempts (87.5 percent) so far ... ECU has been perfect in five contests during the 2012 campaign - 2-2 vs. Navy; 1-1 vs. South Carolina, North Carolina, UAB and Houston; and were 1-2 against UCF.
Reaping Redzone Awards
ECU has cashed in 20-straight redzone visits (16 TDs, 4 FGs), beginning with its last three against Memphis and a 17-of-17 ledger vs. UAB (6-6), Navy (4- 4) and Houston (7-7) ... The Pirates are 34-of-38 overall (89.5%) in 2012.
Getting the First Shot
East Carolina has received the opening kickoff in eight-straight games - the third-longest active streak nationally (14/Marshall, 12/San Diego State).
Grove Among The National Leaders
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 sixth nationally among all active career defenders in tackles per game ... He's tallied nine hits in five of the 10 games this season.
To Pillage And Plunder
The Pirates have recorded a takeaway in 26 of its last 30 games ... In all, East Carolina has created two or more turnovers in 10 of the last 17 games, which includes two against Memphis and Houston, three each vs. Appalachian State and Southern Miss, and a season-high four vs. UTEP this year ... ECU has won 14 of 19 games (14-5) when it forces two or more turnovers in the Ruffin McNeill era, but are just 3-13 in contests when it doesn't ... The Pirates currently rank 34th nationally in fumbles recovered with 10 and are only one of 16 teams who have returned at least two for TDs.
Conference / National Individual Rankings
Inside receiver Justin Hardy ranks second in punt return average (10.47), third in the conference in receiving yards per game (82.00), fourth in receptions per contest (6.20), eighth in all-purpose yards (97.70) and is 15th in scoring (5.40) ... He is also among the NCAA leaders and is placed 31st in receiving yards a contests and is 36th in receptions per game ... Running back Vintavious Cooper ranks fourth in the conference in rushing (89.10), fourth in all-purpose yards (108.70) and 14th in total offense (89.10) ... Quarterback Shane Carden is third in passing efficiency (142.01) and sixth in total offense (221.70) ... Punter Trent Tignor ranks sixth in the conference and 37th in the country in punting (42.22) ... Safety Chip Thompson is tied for fourth in the league in interceptions a game (0.30) ... Kicker Warren Harvey currently is placed tied for fifth in Conference USA in field goals per game (1.20) and tied for 11th in scoring (7.00) ... Kick returner Lance Ray is seventh in kickoff returns with his average of 22.31 per game ... Fellow returner Derrick Harris is 10th in the same category (20.25)... Linebacker Derrell Johnson is tied for 20th in sacks (0.30) and tied for 18th in tackles for loss (.75) ... Fellow linebacker Gabriel Woullard is tied for 24th in sacks (.25).
Conference USA Team Rankings
The Pirates enter this week ranking fourth in total defense (407.3), scoring defense (28.60), rush defense (152.50) and punt returns (9.81) ... The team is fifth in punt returns (9.81) and passing offense (261.90) ... ECU is also among the top half of the conference in sacks allowed (2.40 - sixth) and passing efficiency defense (134.40 - sixth).