UAB (2-7) at East Carolina (7-2)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 16, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (50,000) -- Greenville, North
Carolina. Television: WITN. Home Record: UAB 1-2, ECU 4-1. Away Record: UAB
1-5, ECU 3-1. Neutral Record: UAB 0-0, ECU 0-0. Conference Record: UAB 1-4,
ECU 5-1. Series Record: East Carolina leads, 8-4.
GAME NOTES: The East Carolina Pirates take aim at their ninth consecutive
Conference USA victory at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday when the UAB
Blazers visit Greenville.
UAB is coming off a 56-14 loss at Marshall that dropped it to a 2-7 overall
record and 1-4 C-USA standing. The loss was the third in a row for the
Blazers, who have been outscored in away games by an average of 21.7 points
per game. Second-year head coach Garrick McGee has compiled a 5-16 record with
the Blazers since his arrival in Birmingham. The team's two victories this
season have come over FCS foe Northwestern State and the FIU Panthers, who are
entering the weekend with a 1-8 overall record.
The Pirates coasted to a 58-24 decision over Tulsa last week at home to
maintain their position atop the East Division standings. ECU could improve to
8-2 for the first time since 1999 on Saturday, and will have a chance to punch
its ticket to the C-USA Championship when it plays Marshall in its season
finale even if the Blazers pull off an upset. Coach Ruffin McNeill's team has
now won three games in a row overall and seven consecutive East Division
This will be the 13th meeting in history between the Blazers and Pirates. ECU
has won the last six encounters to take an 8-4 all-time series lead. UAB came
close to ending its losing slide to the Pirates last season in Birmingham
before falling, 42-35.
Despite being pummeled on the scoreboard by the Thundering Herd last week, the
Blazers amassed 464 total offensive yards and 22 first downs. McGee's emphasis
on establishing the run has helped them post an average of 190 rushing yards
per game to rank fourth in the C-USA. UAB is averaging 26.7 ppg, but has
settled for field goals on 12 of its 26 trips to the red zone.
Tailback Jordan Howard is one of the nation's best rookie running backs,
rushing for more than 100 yards in three of the past four games, including a
123-yard effort versus the Thundering Herd his last time out. Howard is the
leading rusher in the country among freshmen with a 96.6 yards average. Darrin
Reaves was also effective in Huntington as he produced 98 yards and a score on
24 totes. Reaves also led the team in receiving with 47 yards and a touchdown
on three catches.
Despite trailing for the majority of the contest versus Marshall, Jonathan
Perry attempted only 17 passes. The senior signal caller connected on 10 of
his throws for 176 yards, including the TD pass to Reaves. The contest marked
just the second start of the season for Perry, who has completed 54.2 percent
of his passes for 688 yards with seven TDs and three picks. McGee also has a
capable backup in Austin Brown, who finished with 319 yards and three scoring
passes versus ECU in 2012.
The issue for the Blazers this season has been their porous defense. They
inability to stop the opposition's attack was on full display last week as
Marshall racked up 657 yards of total offense with three different players
compiling over 100 rushing yards. UAB's unit allows 40.3 ppg and 480 ypg,
which gives them the 116th rank in both scoring defense and total defense
among the 123 FBS schools. Jake Ganus leads the team with 76 tackles, which is
38 more than any of his teammates. He has also registered six tackles for loss
and Diaheem Watkins has been a factor with 4.5 sacks.
ECU should have no trouble versus UAB with Shane Carden leading the charge.
Carden accounted for a school-record seven total touchdowns in last week's
rout of the Golden Hurricane. The junior quarterback completed 34-of-50
attempts for 383 yards and five touchdowns, while also rushing into the end
zone twice. In his just second season as the full-time starter, Carden has
become the leading passer in the C-USA across the board by completing 72.9
percent of his attempts for 2,973 yards and 24 touchdowns with only five
Many of Carden's passes have gone in the direction of fellow junior Justin
Hardy, who is leading the conference with averages of 9.1 receptions and 111.1
receiving yards per game. Hardy established a new school record of 23 career
touchdown catches last week while also reaching the 1,000-yard mark in
receiving yards on the season to become the first Pirate to accomplish that
feat twice. Hardy needs just 124 more receiving yards to set a new ECU single-
Vintavious Cooper is the team's most used weapon in the backfield, although
ECU clearly favors its aerial attack. It is hard to argue with McNeill's
strategy which has helped the Pirates produce 445.3 total yards and 39.1
points per contest.
McNeill's defensive unit is surrendering only 336.1 total yards per game,
which is the lowest average in the C-USA. ECU is especially strong against the
run as its opponents are netting just 3.1 yards per carry and 96.7 ypg on the
ground, which gives it the seventh best rushing defense in the nation.
Sophomore linebacker Montese Overton has registered a team-high six sacks and
nine stops behind the line. Last week versus Tulsa, the defense forced a total
of four turnovers, including DaShaun Amos's interception that he returned 100
yards for a touchdown
UAB's talented running back tandem will have trouble finding room against the
Pirates. ECU is firing on all cylinders offensively and defensively heading
into its home finale. McNeill has a very strong chance of guiding this squad
to a C-USA Championship before it departs next season to join the American
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: East Carolina 55, UAB 21
11/14 15:05:54 ET