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East Carolina

College Football

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East Carolina failed to make a bowl for the second-straight year last season, finishing with just three wins, only one in AAC play even after beating NC State early on. Scottie Montgomery wants to bring this team back to relevance in only his second campaign, but it’s not going to be easy and probably won’t come this year.

The Pirates added Montgomery’s former quarterback from his Duke days with Thomas Sirk, although he’ll still compete for the job with Gardner Minshew, who took over last year. Either way, ECU wants a quarterback that can take care of the ball after the offense turned it over 24 times last season. The Pirates will hope an improved line that returns three starters will lead the way for the running game that has new faces. Derrell Scott comes over from Tennessee with Hussein Howe and last year’s backup Devin Anderson also in the mix. East Carolina always seems to have talent at wide out, but losing Zay Jones and his 158 receptions won’t be easy. Jimmy Williams (818 yards, 8 TDs) and Quay Johnson step into the top spots for whomever wins the QB job. The offense can be better than last year’s 27 points per game, but it’ll mostly depend on the quarterback.

Still, the defense was the biggest problem last season giving up 36.1 points and 228.5 rushing yards per game. On cue, the Pirates move to a four-man front to try and fix that number. There’s no guarantee this group actually improves, but the line returns three starters so that should at least help in the ground game. Top tackler Jordan Williams returns at linebacker and freshman defensive back Aaron Ramseur was hyped plenty in the spring. The secondary has most of the same pieces as a year ago so that could also lead to some improvement.

But getting to a bowl game won’t be easy, from drawing West Virginia, Virginia Tech and BYU in non-conference play to opening against USF in the AAC. The Pirates will probably have to win five conference games to reach a bowl and that’s a bit of a stretch. Outside of USF, all of their home games are winnable, but having to travel to UCF, Houston and Memphis won’t be fun. ECU will battle to reach three wins most of the season with four feeling like a good landing spot.

There’s hope that the Pirates could do better if Sirk comes in and repeats what he did in 2015 for Duke. He threw for 16 TDs and 8 INTs, but also ran for 1,041 yards and 10 more touchdowns. But after missing all of last season due to an Achilles injury, it’s hard to see him repeating those numbers on a lesser team. If you take the East Carolina over, that’s probably what you’ll be hoping for, a Sirk comeback.


2017 East Carolina Pirates Football Schedule

Sept. 2 vs. James Madison
Sept. 9 at West Virginia
Sept. 16 vs. Virginia Tech
Sept. 30 vs. South Florida

Oct. 7 vs. Temple
Oct. 14 at UCF
Oct. 21 vs. BYU

Oct. 28 at Houston
Nov. 4 at Connecticut
Nov. 11 vs. Tulane
Nov. 18 vs. Cincinnati
Nov. 25 at Memphis

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