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2018

East Carolina

College Football

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East Carolina didn't finish in the AAC basement last year, although being tied for last with a 3-9 record isn’t something to get excited about. The Pirates remain a work in progress in Scottie Montgomery’s third season and that’s seen in the odds with an over/under at 3.5 wins (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) with more money coming in on the under, as well as the worst odds to win the AAC at +30000. That’s mostly due to a defense that was one of the worst in the country last season.

The offense at least moved the ball last year, but will be breaking in a new quarterback in 2018 with Reid Herring set to be the guy. The redshirt sophomore doesn’t have much experience, but he provides speed and knowledge of the offense, which is more than true freshman Holton Ahlers has, Herring’s expected backup. The problem in the offense is that there isn’t much outside of stud wide out Trevon Brown (1,069 yards, 7 TDs), a likely future NFL wide receiver. Outside of Brown, Deondre Farrier (24 receptions) and Tahj Deans (16 rec.) are the top returnees, while running back is a mix of guys that averaged 3.3 yards per carry last year.  Hussein Howe (419 rushing yards, 30 receptions) should remain the starter, although Darius Pinnix and freshman Trace Christian should all see time. The other problem is that only two starters return on the line, so that could be an issue in trying to improve last year’s 24.9 points per game.

Throw in a defense that returns five starters from a group that allowed 45 points and 540 yards per game and ECU could be in similar trouble. New coordinator David Blackwell comes over from FCS school Jacksonville State and has a massive task ahead of him. As expected, there are questions at every level. The line could feature a couple sophomores with limited experience, while Cannon Gibbs at least provides experience at linebacker. Secondary may be the best of the units, with returning cornerbacks led by nickel Devon Sutton, who was third on the team in tackles last year, which is slightly odd for his position. Safety also features guys that saw time last year and a JUCO transfer that should see time. It’s hard to find positives for this group, but the goal is simple: be better than 2017.

ECU had a slightly weird 2017 season mainly because of a 20-point loss to James Madison and then double-digit wins over BYU and Cincy. The hope is that the Pirates can start 2018 on a better note, mainly with getting a win over NC A&T. Beating Old Dominion will also be important, but getting that first AAC win won’t be easy. In fact, East Carolina will likely be underdogs in every conference game until hosting UConn on Nov. 17. Stealing wins will be difficult unless the defense takes a leap under Blackwell. If not, the offense doesn’t have the tools to win more than four games and if they want to hit the over, it will likely require a road win at Tulane or Cincy in November.

 

2018 East Carolina Pirates Football Schedule

Sept. 1 vs. North Carolina A&T

Sept. 8 vs. North Carolina

Sept. 15 at Virginia Tech

Sept. 22 at South Florida

Sept. 29 vs. Old Dominion

Oct. 6 at Temple

Oct. 13 vs. Houston

Oct. 20 vs. UCF

Nov. 3 vs. Memphis

Nov. 10 at Tulane

Nov. 17 vs. Connecticut

Nov. 23 at Cincinnati

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