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East Carolina Pirates 2014 NCAA Football Gambling Odds & Predictions

2014-15 Football Previews – (American Conference) – Pirates

In a relatively newly-formed conference that’s seen plenty of new faces and upheaval, the ECU Pirates are a model of stability – one that’s carried over from the mostly dismantled Conference USA.

Head coach Ruffin McNeill has a system that works, and most importantly, he has the right field general to run his offense with senior Shane Carden. Carden put up video game stats under center for East Carolina in 2013, and there’s no reason to believe that won’t continue.

ECU

American Athletic Conference 2014-15 College Football Previews: East Carolina Pirates
Head Coach: Ruffin McNeill
2013 Record: 8-4
East Carolina Gambling Odds to Win 2014 BCS Championship: 300/1
East Carolina Gambling Odds to Win AAC in 2014: 7/1

The Pirates went ahead and ranked second in the conference in total offense (468.2 yards per game) and eighth in the entire NCAA with 40.2 points scored per contest.

In a watered-down AAC, it seems the Pirates only have to worry about Cincinnati, UCF and Houston at the top of the table. There is some concern about the condition of ECU’s offensive line, but the veteran guile of Carden could cover up some growing pains.

Furthermore, the Pirates – long a defensive punchline – experienced a re-birth under new co-ordinator Rick Smith last year. Expect East Carolina’s “D” to be nasty, especially plugging the run.

Let’s further examine the strengths and weaknesses of the 2014 Pirates.

Team Strengths

Carden has a great arm and he is a leader. You could rank him as a long-shot Heisman Trophy hopeful this season; if he continues to throw up lines like 318 pass yards per to go with a better than 70% completion and 33 TDs, it’s not crazy to expect he’ll be in the discussion.

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It also helps that Carden’s favorite target is back for his senior campaign. Future NFLer Justin Hardy set school records with 114 receptions for 1,284 yards. He’s also the first WR in school history to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

Look for the defense to be led by athleticism and experience in the linebacker corps. Middle ‘backer Zeek Bigger and speedy OLB Montese Overton will have profound roles on the ECU defense. Senior defensive lineman Chrishon Rose – who had a great year in 2013 – is back, though he’s switching positions from nose tackle to end in Smith’s 3-4 scheme.

Keep an eye on sophomore punter Worth Gregory, a transfer from Alabama who is apparently a weight-room monster. Having that extra imposing tackler on the coverage unit is nice.

Team Weaknesses

The Pirates could get a little more punch from the run game. Senior RB Breon Allen is undersized, perhaps more contributions from back-up Chris Hairston will help Allen out.
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Part of that issue can be attributed to offensive line play. An offseason car accident damaged talented OT Ike Harris (and potential all-conference DE Terrell Stanley), so their status is up in the air. East Carolina has a beast in junior OT Tre Robertson on the right side, but some new faces need to come to his aid.

Senior kicker Warren Harvey is usually money, but he regressed in 2013 by hitting 15-of-25 of his field goal attempts.

2014-15 East Carolina Football Prediction: 9-3

McNeill’s Pirates should have another solid year. Returning only three starters on defense is a little concerning, but the team is confident Smith can coach them up, and ECU’s recruiting is solid by American Conference standards.

Carden is the piece that makes everything go, and the Pirates are lucky to have such a talented pivot. He and Hardy will shred up opposing defenses again this year and will turn contests into basketball games for the opposition.

For that reason, the ECU Pirates should acquit themselves well in the newly-formed American Athletic Conference. A game at Cincinnati on Nov. 13 looms large. The Pirates also have a couple tricky road games early in the schedule, travelling to South Carolina and Virginia Tech.

2014 Pirates Schedule

  • 8/30/14 N.C. CENTRAL (FCS)
  • 9/6/14 @ S. CAROLINA
  • 9/13/14 @ VIRGINIA TECH
  • 9/20/14 N. CAROLINA
  • 10/4/14 SMU
  • 10/11/14 @ USF
  • 10/23/14 UCONN
  • 11/1/14 @ TEMPLE
  • 11/13/14 @ CINCY
  • 11/22/14 TULANE
  • 11/28/14 @ TULSA
  • 12/4/14 UCF

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Comments

  1. ECU went 10-3 last year.

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