Nov. 27, 2013
GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina will complete its 2013 regular season schedule when it visits Marshall for a winner-take-all Conference USA clash at Joan C. Edwards Stadium Friday beginning at 12 noon (EST).
A division title and berth into next week's C-USA Championship Game is at stake for the Pirates and Thundering Herd, who share a series that has produced overtime thrillers in three of the last five games - including the last two meetings. ECU will try to push its winning streak to six straight for the first time since 1995 after booking a 42-28 non-league victory at NC State last week.
EAST CAROLINA RECORDS AND STREAKS
- Qualified for nine bowl appearances since 2000 (seven of the last eight years) ...
- Has had at least eight wins in five of the last seven years (last 10-win season/'91) ...
- Has won 17 of the last 19 games (and 44 of 51) when scoring 30 or more points ...
- Has won 26 of the last 27 games when converting third downs at 50% or higher ...
- Has won 11 of the last 12 games when forcing two or more turnovers ...
- Has won six of the last seven regular season road games ...
- Has won 11 of the last 12 (and 27 of the last 36) Conference USA games ...
- Has won five of the last seven C-USA road games ...
- Has won eight-straight (and 22 of the last 26) C-USA East Division games ...
- Has won 14 of its last 19 C-USA East Division road games ...
East Carolina leads 10-4 ... Most recently, the Pirates have taken six of the last eight and eight of the last 11 matchups ... The Herd owns the only neutral site victory after posting a thrilling 64-61 overtime win at the 2001 GMAC Bowl (Mobile, Ala.) ... ECU has taken all seven contests in Greenville, while the two teams have split six meetings in Huntington.
PIRATE CAREER NUMBERS AGAINST THE HERD
A total of 12 East Carolina players (3 skill offense/8 defense/1 special teams) have experienced action in at least two battles against Marshall during their careers ... A closer look: SS Michael Dobson - 3 games, 20-68 rushing and 4-35 receiving as a RB, 1-5 KO returns; OLB Maurice Falls - 2 games, 3 tackles (2 solo), 2.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks; ILB Jeremy Grove - 2 games, 15 tackles (5 solo), 1.0 TFL; IR Justin Hardy - 2 games, 23-263 receiving; ILB Ty Holmes - 3 games, 12 tackles (4 solo), 1 FF; OLB Derrell Johnson - 3 games, 21 tackles/14 in `12 is current career-best (7 solo), 3.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 2 QBH, 1 FR; FS Damon Magazu - 3 games, 16 tackles (4 solo), 1 FR, 1 INT; RB/TE Zico Pasut - 3 games, 5-18 rush; DE Lee Pegues - 2 games, 6 tackles (3 solo); NT Chrishon Rose - 2 games, 7 tackles (1 solo), 1 FF; P Trent Tignor - 3 games, 4 punts, 46.0 ypp; OR Reese Wiggins - 2 games, 5-76 receiving.
AGAINST CONFERENCE USA OPPONENTS
Since playing its first season in Conference USA (1997), East Carolina has produced an all-time 78-49 (.614) league record ... Overall, the Pirates have won 11 of the last 12, 27 of the last 36 and 36 of the last 48 C-USA games.
BATTLING WITHIN THE EAST DIVISION - 5-0 IN 2013
The Pirates are 34-11 (.756) against Conference USA East Division opponents since the league implemented divisional play in 2005 ... ECU is 19-4 at home and 15-7 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 Marshall clash having won eight straight and 22 of its last 26 games against East Division members.
ON THE ROAD - 4-1 IN 2013
Since joining C-USA in 1997, East Carolina is 48-63 (.432) when playing away from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium ... Before defeating North Carolina, Middle Tennessee, FIU and NC State, and falling at Tulane this year, 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 5-1 when they meet Marshall on Friday, which would represent the program's best "away" ledger since a similar 5-1 slate in 1991.
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 featured a similar status this year ... Overall (123 programs), ECU currently ranks 55th nationally in average attendance and 59th in capacity percentage (87.97).
BACK TO THE FUTURE
ECU will begin competition in the American Athletic Conference next fall and should contend for top attendance honors there as well ... Excluding Louisville (52,914) and Rutgers (48,034), which are both leaving the league after this season, UCF's mark of 41,311 currently leads the AAC.
LEAGUE, NON-LEAGUE STAT COMPARISONS
In its seven C-USA contests this year, East Carolina has averaged 42.6 points, 130.6 rushing yards, 347.3 passing yards and 477.9 total yards per game so far ... By comparison, the Pirates booked 39.8 ppg, 119.2 rypg, 314.0 pypg and 433.2 ypg averages in their four non-conference tilts ... Defensively, ECU has surrendered 18.7 points, 114.9 rushing yards, 191.3 passing yards and 306.1 total yards in its league contests, while giving up 28.0, 84.8, 334.5 and 419.2 averages in games against Old Dominion, Virginia Tech, North Carolina and NC State this season.
SHUTOUT-FREE ... 204 AND COUNTING
ECU will enter the Marshall game with an active streak of 204 games of not suffering a shutout - a new school record (17 points at Rice in '06 surpassed the previous mark of 110 set from `71 to `81) ... The last time the Pirates were blanked was on Oct. 4, 1997 (56-0 at Syracuse) ... In terms of a national standing, ECU's 204-game run currently ranks ninth (see below) among all active FBS streaks and is the 20th-longest in the all-time annals.
McNEILL: A TOP FOUR PASS LISTING
Although East Carolina's 275-yard passing total at NC State ranked as the third-lowest this season, it was enough to catapult the 2013 offensive unit into second place on ECU's single-season pass yardage list with 3,678 ... Ruffin McNeill's first squad set the standard in 2010 with 4,143 air yards before his second and third editions followed with 3,433 and 3,551, respectively, thus now giving him the top four passing seasons in the Pirate record books ... A 456-yard day at Marshall would establish a new record.
EARNING BACK SOME RESPECT
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 two units in a pair of major categories after 11 games, including a top rank in rush defense ... A closer look:
To offer some perspective, ECU ranked 120th nationally in total defense, 119th in scoring defense and 117th in rush defense during Ruffin McNeill's first year (2010).
SLOWING THE RUN
After surrendering the aforementioned 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 six of their first 11 contests this year (90 vs. ODU, 53 vs. VT, 67 vs. UNC, 89 vs. MTSU, 85 vs. TLN, 73 vs. FIU) ... Lastly, ECU has given up only one run over 30 yards this season.
TO PILLAGE AND PLUNDER
The Pirates have recorded a takeaway in 12 of the last 13 contests (had their 12-game streak snapped at NC State last week) ... Additionally, East Carolina has created two or more turnovers in 17 of the last 30 contests ... After collecting one in the 2013 opener vs. ODU, ECU nabbed three vs. FAU, one each vs. VT and UNC before getting two at MTSU, one at Tulane, a pair more vs. USM, one at FIU, a season-high four vs. Tulsa and three vs. UAB ... ECU is 20-6 when it forces two or more turnovers in the McNeill era.
In addition to notable improvement with the per-game averages, Rick Smith's leadership of the ECU defense - most notably his influence in the secondary - has resulted in a return to national prominence as one of the top interception units on the FBS level ... The Pirates have picked off a pass in nine of the last 10 games (five in the last three outings, two for TDs): ... Currently ECU ranks 22nd nationally in pass thefts.
TURNING UP THE PRESSURE
The Pirates have netted 33 sacks (-201 yards) in 11 games this season, which currently ranks 11th nationally ... OLB Montese Overton, who posted a season-high three at FIU on Nov. 2, headlines a list of 13 ECU defenders who have recorded at least a half of a QB drop this season ... ECU's nine-sack effort at FIU is the top single-game performance nationally in 2013, matching Northern Illinois, Arizona State and South Alabama.
A RETURN INVESTMENT
East Carolina's kickoff return unit has enjoyed success during the 2013 season, currently standing second at the FBS level after the first 11 contests ... The Pirates average 26.9 yards per return - the latter sparked by senior Lance Ray's 27.1 ypr clip, which is 16th nationally this week.
Of East Carolina's 141 offensive possessions this season, only 26 have been "terminated" in three or less plays (punt, turnover, missed field goal on fourth down) - which currently ranks seventh (for fewest) nationally.
PASSING WITH PRECISION
While the Pirates' spread passing attack might be a little short on big single play numbers with "only" three throws over 50 yards so far this year, its distribution accuracy (to 19 different receivers) ranks first nationally.
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 72 of 102 offensive TDs (71 percent) as ECU's 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, 4-7/USM, 3-5/FIU, 7-7/TLS, 5-8/UAB and 5-6/NCSU ...
- Has converted 101-of-111 redzone opportunities while under center ...
- Is 16-6 overall as a starter, but has won 13 of 15 C-USA contests ...
- Has thrown for over 400 yards on three occasions and authored seven contests over 350, 11 over 300 and 17 over 250 yards ...
- Only one of two QBs in ECU history to post back-to-back 3,000-yard passing seasons (Dominique Davis, 2010-11) ...
- 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 46 completions vs. ODU currently ranks as the third-highest single-game total nationally behind Washington State's Connor Halliday (58/ Oregon) and Fresno State's Derek Carr (52/Rutgers) ...
- Directly responsible for seven TD vs. Tulsa (five pass, two rush) and was 34-of-50 for 384 yards through the air ... Accounted for six scores (three/three) at North Carolina and five at NC State (three/two) ...
- Earned his fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh career Conference USA Offensive Player-of-the-Week honor for his efforts vs. Monarchs, Tar Heels and Golden Hurricane, while also picking up an ESPN Helmet Sticker vs. UNC ...
- Threw for 365 yards on a career-high 57 attempts at MTSU, completing 43 - which stands sixth on the FBS single-game list in 2013 ... His 41 completions vs. Tulane ranks 11th on the same list as well ...
- Currently ranks among FBS active career leaders in completion percentage (1st/69.6), completions per game (6th/24.1), total offense plays per game (8th/41.1), pass attempts per game (9th/34.6), pass yards per game (9th/267.6), pass efficiency rating (13th/151.62), total offense per game (15th/272.6) and TDs responsible for (17th/72) ...
- Is team's co-leader with nine ground TDs in 2013 after topping unit with eight a year ago ... Is just three shy of matching Leander Green's program single-season record (for QBs) of 12 set in 1979 ...
- Has equaled a single-game East Carolina record with five TD passes on four occasions - vs. Memphis (`12), Old Dominion, Tulsa and UAB (`13) ...
- Has thrown a touchdown pass in 20 consecutive games, including 19 in the last five contests (3.8 pg) ...
HARD(L)Y A SECRET ANYMORE
Junior inside receiver Justin Hardy is currently sixth nationally in receptions per game, hauling in 8.6 passes per contest ... His 10-grab-yard effort against Tulsa three weeks ago was his eighth career double-digit catch total, while his 136-yard outing at FIU was the ninth of his career in triple-digits ... Among all active NCAA players, Hardy ranks 2nd in career receptions per game (7.3), 2nd in receptions (247), 6th in receiving yards per game (85.1) and 14th in receiving yards (2,893); his school-record 17 catches vs. Tulane (Oct. 12) still remains as the second-highest single-game reception total for all FBS receivers in 2013.
RINGING `EM UP, SHUTTING `EM DOWN
OFFENSE - East Carolina has scored 457 points during the 2013 season, just 21 shy of matching the school record of 478 set in 2010 ... ECU has tallied 50 or more points on five occasions this year, a first in school history, and reached at least 30 in nine of 11 games ... Lastly, the Pirates have scored 252 points in their last five games, an average of 50.4 per contest.
DEFENSE - East Carolina has limited opponents to 17 or less points six times in 2013, a first since the 2009 campaign ... In the last five games, the Pirates have surrendered only 93 points - an average of only 18.6 ppg.
WE'LL TAKE THE BALL FIRST
East Carolina has received the opening kickoff in 22-straight games - the longest current streak nationally (UCF/14 and Illinois/11 were second and third, respectively, before having its runs snapped two weeks ago).
ON THIS DAY IN PIRATES' HISTORY (0-2)
Nov. 29, 1947: Western Carolina 28, East Carolina 0
Nov. 29, 2003: Southern Miss 38, East Carolina 21