10/04/2014 10:54 AM
(22) East Carolina -41 over SMU:
The 22nd ranked Pirates (3-1) open up their American Athletic Conference play at Dowdy Ficklen Stadium taking on winless SMU (0-4). A couple of weeks ago, ECU upset then 17th ranked Virginia Tech at Blacksburg 28-21 and followed it up with a 70-41 trashing of the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Pirates set school records of 789 yards in total offense and scored 35 points in each half. The Mustangs continue to struggle after getting shut out 56-0 at home last week to TCU. SMU has been outscored 202-12 thus far good for both dead last in offense and defense. Their 12 points include 2 field goals in a 58-6 humbling from Texas A&M and a final play of the game TD against North Texas in a 43-6 defeat that resulted in the resignation of former head coach June Jones.
Shane Carden (111/178 1469 11 TD 3 INT) completed 30/48 for 438 yards and 4 TD with just 1 INT. He also ran for 2 more scores despite ending with -4 rushing yards. Isaiah Jones (29-323 3 TD) and Trevor Brown (11-206 4 TD) carved up the North Carolina secondary while giving ECU the 6th rated passing attack in the country. Carden's top 2 targets combined for 13 catches, 233 yards and 3 TD. Justin Hardy (29-359 2 TD) caught 6 more passes for 92 yards, and Breon Allen (35-346 9.9 3 TD) more than doubled his seasonal rushing totals by gaining 211 yards on 18 carries (11.7) including scoring runs of 11 and 44 yards respectively. Zeek Bigger returned a Marquise Williams INT 46 to paydirt, and the defense held North Carolina to just 6 3rd down conversions on 18 attempts despite giving up 440 yards overall.
TCU's trouncing of SMU was the most lopsided in the series' 94-game history dating to 1915. The Mustangs gained just 245 yards of total offense against the Horned Frogs including just 89 on the ground. SMU quarterback Garrett Krstich made his first career start, the team's third starter at the position this season. Fourth-string when the season began, Krstich was 14 for 30 for 142 yards, one interception and was sacked 7 times. It's anybody's guess (take your pick) who will start this afternoon against ECU, but it certainly won't be Neal Burcham (27/48 158 2 INT) who is out for the season after suffering an elbow injury. Kolney Cassel (15/34 156 1 INT) has looked anything but sharp, and backup Matt Davis has not had too much exposure. SMU has yet to score a TD on the ground, and Kevin Pope (30-101 3.4) is the top back on a squad that is averaging just 44 total yards per contest in the ground game. Nate Halverson (8-82 1 TD) caught the last second Hail Mary against the Mean Green to avert a shutout. Derrikk Thompson (12-191) and Stephen Nelson (11-100) are the team's top receivers and might see some extended time given the fact that ECU scores so quickly and aren't exactly defensive specialists. If Pope can find any success on the ground, it might help the defense by keeping the Pirates' high-scoring offense on the sideline rather than getting in a toe to toe up tempo battle.
East Carolina doesn’t have the greatest defense in the world, but it’s more than capable of shutting out an SMU team that has been downright awful this season. Those who are giving the Mustangs the benefit of the doubt can say that they are a junior-like varsity team simply playing to not get blown out, however only one result matters and that is the final score, win or lose. Don't be surprised if Ruffin McNeil uses a jovial tactic of calling off the dogs by inserting David Garrard in the 4th quarter. That oughta raise some hope in Ownby Drive for some hope of putting up any kind of points for perhaps a backdoor cover. Perhaps not, as there's a better chance for ECU to eclipse the combined total themselves in the first half alone. Either way, expect this outcome to get real ugly real fast as we look to avenge week 5's backdoor push with an early win just after lunch while we stretch our legs in search of a second play later this afternoon.