Saturday afternoon the West Virginia Mountaineers open up the home slate at Milan Puskar Stadium when they host American Athletic Conference opponent East Carolina.
Both teams are coming off losses to open the season, and ECU certainly did not get the result it was looking for, suffering a twenty-point loss to FCS opponent James Madison.
Here’s a look at the Mountaineers opponent.
East Carolina was defeated 34-14 on Saturday by reigning FCS champion JMU, giving up over 400 rushing yards to the Dukes.
ECU made a quarterback change during the contest, placing Thomas Sirk under center for the second half, which improved the offense’s production.
The Pirates were held scoreless until the third quarter.
2009 was the last season the two teams met. That game was also in Morgantown.
West Virginia picked up a 35-20 victory behind four touchdown passes from Jarrett Brown. The Pirates scored the game’s first ten points and led after the first quarter before being outscored 28-10 over the next three periods. Noel Devine led the Mountaineer ground attack, picking up 80 yards and scoring the Mountaineers final touchdown.
WVU has picked up the victory in 18 of the 21 meetings.
East Carolina’s reputation of taking down more well-known opponents was not lost on WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen at his weekly press conference Tuesday.
“They’ve been known to take out Power Five schools left and right as we well know,” Holgorsen said. “They’ve done it consistently throughout their program.”
The Pirates have defeated seven Power-5 Conference opponents since 2010, and defeated Virginia Tech and West Virginia in back-to-back weeks to start the season in 2008.
If ECU is unable to defeat either the Mountaineers this week, or Virginia Tech in Greenville next weekend, it would be the first year since 2012 that the Pirates hadn’t defeated a team from a Power-5 conference.
The Pirates became more of a pass-happy team in the second half last weekend with Sirk controlling the offense. He attempted 35 passes in the second half alone, totaling 210 yards in the air.
Sirk tried spreading the wealth, targeting eight different receivers. Davon Grayson and Deondre Farrier led the team in receptions with seven.
ECU returned three of its top five receivers from a year ago.
Pirates defensive players gave up almost 230 rushing yards per game a year ago, and that number was not improved upon in East Carolina’s season opener.
It’s a defensive unit that is replacing a number of players from a year ago, meaning there are growing pains.
Holgorsen mentioned that it’s a defense that gives multiple looks, but does like to blitz often, which is was James Madison took advantage of multiple times to get long plays.
West Virginia is currently a 24-point favorite to win on Saturday.