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2011 College Football Season Preview: East Carolina Pirates

2010 Record: (6-7, 5-3 in C-USA)

Head Coach: Ruffin McNeil (7-7 All-Time, 6-7 at ECU)

Last Bowl Game: 2010 Military Bowl: lost to Maryland 51 to 20

2010 ECU Preview

CFBZ East Carolina Links

College Football Roundtable: Conference USA Edition

East Carolina 2010 Exit Survey


9/3: at South Carolina

9/10: Virginia Tech (2010 result: lost 49-27)

9/24: UAB (2010 result: won 54-42)

10/1: UNC (2010 result: lost 42-17)

10/8: at Houston (2009 result: won 38-32)

10/15: at Memphis (2010 result: won 49-27)

10/22: at Navy (2010 result: lost 76-35)

10/29: Tulane

11/5: Southern Miss (2010 result: won 44-43)

11/12: at UTEP

11/19: UCF (2010 result: lost 49-35)

11/26: at Marshall (2010 result: won 37-10)

2010 Offensive Statistics:

Scoring: 36.8 ppg (3rd in C-USA, 15th in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 119.85 yds/game (10th in C-USA, 98th in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 317.8 yds/game (2nd in C-USA, 8th in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 437.6 yds/game (4th in C-USA, 25th in Nation)

2010 Defensive Statistics:

Scoring: 44.0 ppg (last in C-USA, 119th in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 226.69 yds/game (last in C-USA, 117th in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 252.1 yds/game (9th in C-USA, 107th in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 478.8 yds/game (last in C-USA, last in Nation)

2010 Misc Stats:

Turnover Margin: -0.54 per game (9th in C-USA, 98th in Nation)

Penalties: 67.6 yds/game (11th in C-USA, 111th in Nation)

Returning Starters:

Offense: 5

Defense: 7

Kicker/Punter: 2

Top Returning Statistical Leaders:

Passing: QB Dominique Davis, Sr (392 of 608 for 3955 yds, 37 TD, 16 INT)

Rushing: QB Dominique Davis, S (79 for 141, 9 TD)

Receiving: WR Lance Lewis, Sr (89 rec for 1116 yds, 14 TD)

Tackles: DB Bradley Jacobs, Sr (80)

Sacks: LB/DE Justin Dixon, Soph; DE Matt Milner, Soph (3)

Interceptions: DB Bradley Jacobs, Sr (3)

If you are an East Carolina fan then odds are that you went through a lot of Rolaids last year. The Pirates finished 16th in the Nation scoring 36.8 points per game but gave up the second most as they yielded 44 points per game. They started out 5-2 with narrow wins over NC State, Tulsa and Southern Miss but their luck caught up to them as they got humbled by Navy (76-35) and Rice (62-38). The Pirates finished the regular season at 6-6 and went bowling. There are a lot of positives for this team but there are also a lot of things that they need to fix if they want to challenge for the C-USA Championship. We caught up with Michael Perry, the sports editor for the ECU student newspaper The East Carolinian, to get his take on the 2011 Pirates of East Carolina.

East Carolina finished 119th in the Nation in points allowed (out of 120 teams) last year. What has been done this off-season to address the defense?

It is hard to say at this point, but the main difference will be the switch to a 3-4 defense. Coach McNeill is confident that the addition of a free man off the defensive line will keep them from being burnt on deep passes and will also beef up the pass rush. As an objective viewer of the team it is tough to say that the defense will return to the premiere defensive form they were during the Holtz era, but the new system and an added year of experience should help improve ECU's defense.

In our 2010 Exit Survey you tabbed Dominique Davis as East Carolina's most surprising player last year. What does he need to improve to take his game to the next level?

For Davis to improve his game to the next level, he first needs stay as consistently explosive as he was in 2010. The offense lost several veterans from the offensive line and the receiving core. With youth at these position Davis will have to continue to be the vocal leader he was last season. Most importantly Davis has to stay healthy. Without Davis this offense is a good as done and they can't depend on the defense to keep them in games.

For those that don't follow Conference USA that closely...tell us a little about the best players on this team.

Dominique Davis is the perfect fit for today's college game. He is long, fast and is both a dangerous passer and effective rusher. He fits the up tempo spread system well. Davis is a rare gift for the Pirate nation who endured six years of the indecisive Patrick Pinkney.

Who are some guys to keep an eye on this year?

Receiving core and the offensive line are the yougest units of this team. Receivers Michael Bowman and Lance Lewis will be good players to watch out for in the fall.

Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games for East Carolina this year?

With one year with McNeill and the pass heavy offense in the books, I have learned that you never know what this team is going to do. There were some insanely exciting comebacks this season but there were also a few severe beat downs that most in Pirate Nation are trying to put behind them. The first five games are important for the Pirates. They need to get this young team off to a good roll, to help them forget their bowl loss to Maryland. That being said, the first five games include South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Houston. ECU needs to be heading into the fifth game at Memphis at least 2-2 or low morale could force the loss of a must-win to a struggling Memphis program. There is no gimme for ECU this season as CUSA tends to be unpredictable.

What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?

With Davis healthy and if the defense can get the 3-4 down pat, I'd be safe saying they will finish 7-6. If Davis is hurt early on, you could be looking at a two or three win season for ECU. Bowl eligibility is needed for McNeill's staff, but Pirate fans are longing for a bowl game win as they have been without since the 2007 Hawaii Bowl

Next Preview: New Mexico

2011 Team Previews

C-USA- Houston, Marshall, SMU, Southern Mississippi

MAC- Ball St, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Temple, Toledo

MWC- UNLV, Wyoming

Sun Belt- FAU, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Troy, ULM

WAC- Idaho


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