Saturday, July 9, 2016

2016 Football Preseason Preview: East Carolina

Throughout this preseason, Purple & Gold will preview all of Western's 2016 football opponents. Today we look at the East Carolina Pirates.

In the opening game of the 2016 season, the Catamounts travel to Greenville, NC to meet former Southern Conference member, East Carolina. 

The all-time series between the Catamounts and Pirates dates back to 1936. The first game was played in Greenville, NC with a 7-6 WCU victory, in the first of back-to-back wins by the Cats. However, of the 30 overall meetings, 19 have been played in Greenville - including all seven during ECU's current 7 game win streak.

East Carolina

When: Saturday, September 3d at 6:00 pm

Where: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium  (50,000), Greenville, NC

RadioCatamount Sports Network

TV / video: ESPN3

The Series:  The two teams met regularly until the outbreak of World War II with the Catamounts claiming four of the first six meetings. Following the 1941 meeting, the series lay dormant until 1946. The two schools then met regularly until 1963 before a second break between games, renewing the series in 1975 with six games over a seven-year period, all won by East Carolina. Though both schools have been members of the Southern Conference, the two never crossed paths in SoCon play, as the Pirates left the league in 1976 - the same year WCU accepted an invitation to join. In all, the Pirates have claimed seven-straight in the head-to-head series as WCU trails, 13-17.

Head Coach:  Scottie Montogomery
Montogomery is in his first season as head coach at ECU and was formally introduced as the Pirates' 21st head coach on December 14, 2015. His acceptance of the ECU position ended a two-year tenure as the Duke Blue Devils' associate head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Overall, Montgomery served on the Duke staff for seven seasons under head coaches Ted Roof (2006-07) and David Cutcliffe (2008-09, 2013-15) - five as receivers coach. He helped guide Duke to three-straight bowl appearances.

Last Year's Record: 5-7 overall (home 3-3, road 2-4), 3-5 American Athletic Conference

Offensive starters - Returning/Lost: 5 / 7
- Returning - J.T. Boyd (OG), Davon Grayson (WR), Isaiah Jones (WR), Brandon Smith (OT), Jimmy Williams (WR)

Defensive starters - Returning/Lost: 6  / 5
-Returning - Joe Allely (OLB), DaShawn Benton (SS), Demetri McGill (NT), Fred Presley (DE), Travon Simmons (FS), Jordan Williams (ILB)

Specialist - Returning/Lost: 5 / 0
- Returning - Worth Gregory (P), Quay Johnson (PR/KOR), Colton Oliver (DS), Davis Plowman (PK), Caleb Pratt (KOS)

Offensive Formation: Multiple

Defensive Formation: Multiple 3-4

2015 Pirate Statistics:
Rushing Offense: 1600 yards
Yards per game: 133
Yards per rush: 4.0 yards
TDs rushing: 19
Passing Offense: 3375 yards or 281 yards per game
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 321-473-12
Total Offense: 4975 yards or 415 yards per game
Passing 1st downs: 158
Rushing 1st downs: 86
Fumbles-Lost: 18 - 7
Penalties-Yards: 89 - 825 yards
3d Down Conversions: 80 of 186  - 43%
4th Down Conversions:  11of 17 - 65%
Red-Zone Scores: 49 of 44  (89%)
Red-Zone Touchdowns: 30 of 44 (68%)
Punts : 64
Avg. per punt: 41 yds
Sacks: 25
PAT-Attempts: 41 of 43 - 95%
Field Goals-Attempts: 10 of 13
Time of possession per game: 28:03

The offense:  For the third year in a row, ECU will be working with a new offensive coordinator, and with the departures of Blake Kemp and Kurt Benkert, the quarterback job falls to senior transfer Philip Nelson, who arrived at ECU after making stops at Minnesota and Rutgers (where he was booted following an assault arrest). Nelson hasn't hasn’t thrown a pass in a game since 2013, but he has a solid group of receivers that’s led by Isaiah Jones, Trevon Brown and do-everything James Summers, who threw for five scores and ran for eight more in 2015.

In the the race to replace last year's leading rusher Chris Hairston, Anthony Scott and a pair of transfers, Derrell Scott (Tennessee) and Jeffrey Coprich (Cal) will compete for the starting job. The offensive line will have a new look as well, with sophomores Messiah Rice and Garrett McGhin favored to start at left tackle and left guard, respectively.

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