Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Game Week--ECU

After two straight road games the West Virginia Mountaineers return home this Saturday for a nooner with the East Carolina Pirates. West Virginia is the second leading rushing offense in the country and is currently 16th in total offense and 9th in scoring offense. The pass defense has improved to 68th while rushing defense is 19th in the country for a total defense of 33rd. Steve Slaton is 12 in the nation averaging 130 yards per game on the ground while Noel Devine is now 52nd and Pat White 66th. White is also 15th in passing efficiency while Darius Reynaud is 25th in receiving yards per game with over 93 yards per game. The defense is led by Reed Williams at over 10 tackles per game which is 23rd in the nation.

The Pirates come into the game with a record of 1-2 with a 17-7 loss to VT and a 28-21 loss to Southern Miss. sandwiched around a 34-31 victory over UNC. East Carolina's offense is led by another Pickney, this time Patrick Pickney at QB. Pickney has 724 yards passing and 109 yards rushing to lead ECU. The leading receivers for ECU are Soph. Jamar Bryant, Senior Phillip Henry, and Senior Steven Rogers. Running back Chris Johnson is averaging 20.6 yards per catch and has more receiving yards (165) than rushing yards (92). The total offense ranks 85th in the country with passing leading the way at 242 yards per game (49th). The defense is 61st in the country; 25th against the run and 100th against the pass.

Last year WVU lead 14-7 at the half before winning 27-10. The biggest play of the game was a 60 yard catch and run by Darius Reynaud to finally give WVU some breathing room. Running was tough for WVU as only 153 yards were gained on the ground with Slaton and Whilte both held to 3.5 yards per carry or worse. Offensively ECU went with a 5 WR attack for most of the game and had some success underneath and controlling the clock with James Pinkney attempting 40 passes and Robert Kass attempting 7 more. Of the returning receivers Phillip Henry had the best game with 6 catches for 54 yards.

This season could be another slugfest if WVU doesn't open up the vertical playbook. The Pirates have been stingy against the run again, but hopeless against the pass as they try to survive three new players in the defensive secondary including two sophomores in safeties Van Eskridge and Chris Mattocks. The inability of ECU to run consistently means that the Pirates may take to the air early and often again Saturday. The game should be a good test for the improving WVU secondary before Big East play begins. However, it also means a long game for fans as 40+ passes stops the clock constantly. The move to noon kickoff means most people will be out of the stadium for the night games at least. For those watching at home the game will be on ESPN2 and Sirius channel 123.

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