#33 East Carolina Football 2013 Preview

East Carolina Pirates

Overall Rank: #33
#1 Conference USA

East Carolina Team Page#33 East Carolina Football 2013 PreviewBuy East Carolina Football Tickets

Before heading off to the American Athletic Conference, East Carolina will try for another shot at the Conference USA title. The Pirates tied with UCF atop the East division, but did not make the championship game since their lone conference loss was to the Knights. ECU does return a lot of talent and with the new look in Conference USA, the Pirates will be right back on top of the standings.

2012 Record: 8-5, 7-1
2012 Bowl: New Orleans Bowl vs. Louisiana (L 34-43)
Coach: Ruffin McNeill (19-19 at East Carolina, 19-19 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Lincoln Riley
Defensive Coordinator: Rick Smith

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Vintavious Cooper, RB, 1,049 yards
Passing: Shane Carden, QB, 3,116 yards
Receiving: Justin Hardy, WR, 1,105 yards
Tackles: Jeremy Grove, LB, 83
Sacks: Derrell Johnson, LB, 7.0
Interceptions: Chip Thompson, S, 3

Other Key Returnees: WR Jabril Soloman, WR Justin Jones, WR Danny Webster, OL Jordan Davis, OL Taylor Hudson, OL Will Simmons, OL Adhem Elsawi, S Damon Magazu, CB Adonis Armstrong, LB Tyle Tudor, LB Gabriel Woullard, DL Lee Pegues, DL Terry Williams, K Warren Harvey, P Trent Tignor

Key Losses: RB Reggie Bullock, QB Rio Johnson, WR Andrew Bodenheimer, DB Leonard Paulk, DB Jacobi Jenkins, LB Daniel Drake

ECU should have one of the most balanced offenses in the conference. Running back Vintavious Cooper earned conference newcomer of the year honors and rushed for 1,049 yards and seven scores. Junior college transfer Terrell Lane is a powerful back who will likely find a niche in short yardage situations. The offensive line returns a bevy of talent, led by guard Will Simmons and tackle Adhem Elsawi. The running game will be clicking on all cylinders from day one. The passing attack will not be far behind. Shane Carden threw for 3,116 yards and 23 touchdowns and added eight more scores on the ground. He is an extremely consistent passer and completed 66.1 percent of his throws. The ten interceptions could stand to go down a little bit, but considering he threw 413 passes on the season, that number is not all bad. Justin Hardy will once again be Carden’s favorite target. After just two seasons, Hardy is already third all-time on ECU’s receiving yardage chart. Danny Webster, Jabril Soloman, Justin Jones are all experienced receivers who should be starting in ECU’s four wide set.

The Pirates pass defense ranked 107th in the nation. As a result there is a new defensive coordinator in town. Rick Smith hopes to mix things up and try and get more pressure into the backfield coming from less obvious places. Lee Pegues and Terry Williams have plenty of starting experience in the front three of the Pirates 3-4 scheme, but are not major threats to get to the quarterback. Sophomore Terrell Stanley is a quick end who had a very promising freshman season. The hope is he can continue to develop and provide a consistent pass rushing threat from the front line. Derrell Johnson is certainly a threat to get into the backfield. He led the squad with 7.0 sacks a year ago and is now moving to outside linebacker to fit the new defensive scheme. Jeremy Grove, the team’s leading tackler, Kyle Tudon and Gabriel Woullard have the versatility to thrive in the 3-4 setup. The secondary does return three senior starters and there is reasonable hope for a drastic improvement in the pass defense. Safeties Chip Thompson and Damon Magazu can make big plays and corner Adonis Armstrong is capable of turning into a very good cover corner.

The Bottom Line:
What the secondary needs to do better is create turnovers. If the defense does manage to successfully blitz and keep the offense off balance in the process, the interceptions will come. East Carolina will get back to a bowl game; however, the Pirates have now lost four straight bowl games, the latest coming last season in a 34-43 loss to Louisiana in the New Orleans Bowl. The goals this year will be twofold. First, win the East division. Secondly, head out of Conference USA with a championship game victory. And finally, win a bowl game.

Projected Bowl: Liberty Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 135.38 (90th in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 273.15 (36, 5)
Total Offense: 408.54 (56, 6)
Scoring Offense: 31.46 (47, 6)
Rushing Defense: 155.00 (53, 4)
Pass Defense: 275.69 (107, 10)
Total Defense: 430.69 (87, 8)
Scoring Defense: 31.62 (88, 7)
Turnover Margin: 0.00 (58, 5)
Sacks: 2.00 (59, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 2.23 (78, 5)


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