College Football Preview: The 2014 East Carolina Pirates
East Carolina has enough talent to make them a threat in the AAC.
2014 College Football Preview
Ruffin McNeill and his East Carolina Pirates look to make some noise in their first season in the AAC.
Overview: The Pirates have high expectations in 2014 after a sensational 10-3 campaign but have a few holes to fill on both sides of the football to come close to last season's success. We'll see if McNeill has what it takes on the roster to get the job done.
USA TODAY Sports
Offense: ECU is blessed with one of the best quarterbacks in the game in Shane Carden who threw for over 4,100 yards on 70.5% with 33 TD's and ten INT's while showing some scrambling ability with 293 yards. The top two targets in Justin Hardy (114-1284) and Isaiah Jones (62-604) give Carden two dependable options. The news isn't as good at RB with Vintavious Cooper taking nearly 1,200 rush yards and 412 receiving yards to graduation. Breon Allen (62-311) and Chris Hairston (49-186) will try to fill the void but have big shoes to fill. Three starters are gone from the O-Line although four players return with starting experience.
Defense: The defensive line loses one of the top four and look built to stop the run with DE Terrell Stanley doing some damage in the backfield with ten TFL and seven sacks. The linbacking unit took quite a hit with five of the top eight departing including Derrell Johnson who accounted for 13 TFL and seven sacks. The secondary loses both starting safeties and four of the top six overall so East Carolina will need some returning players and some new faces to step up or opponents will be filling the air with footballs.
Special Teams: The Pirates need a punter and some would say a placekicker is needed as well after Warren Harvey connected on 15-25. Jones and Hardy will likely handle kick and punt return duties.
Outlook: There are areas of concern but East Carolina has some pretty good talent. Another Bowl seems like a given and I wouldn't be quick to dismiss them in the AAC race.