Tuesday, April 5, 2011

East Carolina Pirates 2010 Review

2010 Record: 6-7 (5-3), Tied 2nd Conference USA East
2010 Bowl Game: Military Bowl, Lost to Maryland 51-20
2010 Schedule/Results: Tulsa, W 51-49; Memphis, W 49-27, @ Virginia Tech, L 49-27, @ North Carolina, L 49-17, @ Southern Mississippi, W 44-43, NC State, W 33-27, Marshall, W 37-10, @ UCF, L 49-35, Navy, L 76-35, @ UAB, W 54-42, @ Rice, L 62-38, SMU, L 45-38, Maryland, L 51-20


     Only in the modern, bowl oversaturated era would ECU ever really qualify for a bowl game after the 2010 season. The Pirates were simply a team that was not good enough to go to a bowl game, and their 3 game losing streak that they cashed out on was enough of a point to be a bright beacon for why the system is busted. In reality, ECU was a wreck in 2010, as they went 1-3 against FBS competetion, and the defense gave up yards and points like candy to a baby.
     Offensively, and thanks to the passing game mainly, ECU was a bit of a heavweight. The Pirates rolled up 445.5 yards per game (319.3 of it through the air) in the air raid offense that Ruffin McNeil brougth to his alma mater from Texas Tech. Boston College transfer Dominique Davis, a total washout and flunkout for the Eagles, found a home at ECU. Davis passed for 3955 yards and 37 TDs on the season. There was a drawback to how often he was asked to air it out, as he was also picked off 16 times in 13 games. Davis attempted 608 passes on the season, so a little more balance in the gameplan might actually help him out by asking less of him.
     Jonathon Williams brought the only rushing game to speak of, as he led the team by a huge amount by rushing for 847 yards as a senior. Williams added 10 TDs to his total as he tied to bring some semblance of balance to what was a very unbalanced offense. Davis was prone to run a bit, as he rushed for 9 TDs. Michael Dobson, a freshman who carried the ball all of 11 times in 2010, is the most experienced back due to return in 2011.
     The pass happy offense bred some stars at the receiver position, but Dwayne Harris was already a star in his own right before. Harris led the Pirates on the year with a stellar line of 101-1123-10 as a senior. With Harris moving on, Lance Lewis will spend his senior year as the #1 man in the rotation, and he deserves it after he posted an equally incredible 89-1116-14 season. The next three receivers on the list, Michael Bowman, Andrew Bodenheimer, and Justin Jones combined for 107-1203-10, and they all return in 2011.
     Now the bad news. ECU's defense was as bad as it gets. This defense gave up a total of 478.8 yards of offense per game (258 by air, and 220 by ground).  They gave up 40 or more points 10 times, including in each of their final 6 games, and gave up 76 points to Navy, who doesn't even attempt to throw the football regularly. This unit is a mess, and McNeil is going to have to figure out how to fix it in a hurry. They also gave up 65 TDs in 13 games. Three of the top five tacklers all move on after 2010, including tackle leader Dustin Lineback, a senior LB who collected 119 tackles, and Melvin Patterson, another senior linebacker that collected 94. Bradlley Jacobs (80) and Derek Blacknall (73) both return in 2011, bit both are DBs, meaning that the front seven is essentially in deep shit.
     That's even more evident when you consider how little pressure the Pirates were able to apply to opposing backfields. Josh Smith, a senior lineman, led the team in TFLs with 11, but nobody else had more than 7 (Matt Milner and Lamar McClendon). ECU is going to have to pressure teams up front, and it's unknown whether or not they have the persoinnel to allow it. Justin Dixon and Milner both led the team with a miserable 3 sacks in 2010, although both will return. It's not promising.
     Emanuel Davis was the leader in passes defended with 9, but it was virtual crickets from the rest of the crew, as nobody came close to that production. Davis returns next fall, but he will have to inspire some others to produce around him, as he should be nabmed a secondary captain as a senior, and also because he produced like nobody else did. Bradley Jacobs led the team with only 3 picks, but will be back to join Davis in the back 4.
     Michael Barbour was a rare bright spot outside of the passing game for ECU, as he connected on 16 of 18 FG attempts in 2010 for a success rate of 88.9%. Barbour only missed one PAT all season by connecting on 56 of 57. He will be back as a senior in 2011. Ben ryan was not as succesful when it came to punting the ball, averaging only 39.43 yards per game, failing to give the defense any extra yardage when it came to defending ground. The Pirates simply need a bigger leg back there to give them room to work.


Offense is fun to watch, but not when your defense sucks so bad that they give it all right back coming the other way. Balance is they key word for ECU in 2011, and if they don't find some, they may not be able to keep up in the competitive CUSA East. McNeil has produced the Air Raid at ECU to the letter, but his defense needs some serious life saving surgery, and he is suuposed to be a defensive minded guy. Time for him to prove it.

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