Gameday: ECU Opens Season at NC State | Beaufort County Now

East Carolina will open the 2019 campaign and the Mike Houston Era when the Pirates battle NC State in Raleigh on Saturday in a non-conference matchup beginning at 12 noon. east carolina university, ECU, football, NC state, mike houston, august 30, 2019
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Gameday: ECU Opens Season at NC State

ECU at  NC State (Game 1):
Date Saturday, Aug. 31
Time 12 Noon (EDT)
Location Raleigh, N.C. (Carter-Finley Stadium)
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    GREENVILLE, N.C. — East Carolina will open the 2019 campaign and the Mike Houston Era when the Pirates battle NC State in Raleigh on Saturday in a non-conference matchup beginning at 12 noon. The contest against the Wolfpack will mark the first time since 2007 that ECU will begin a new season with a true road tilt (and end a run of seven-straight lid-lifters at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium). The game will also represent the first of four non-league encounters, preceding meetings with Gardner-Webb (Sept. 7/home), William & Mary (Sept. 21/home) and Old Dominion (Sept. 28/road).

    ECU RECORDS AND STREAKS
  • Qualified for 10 bowl appearances since 2000 (eight in the last 13 years) ...
  • Has accounted for 400 or more total yards in eight of the last 11 games ...
  • Has thrown at least one touchdown pass in six of the last seven games (12 TD throws) ...
  • Has won 34 of the last 37 games when leading at the half ...
  • Has won five of the last six games against ACC opponents from North Carolina (UNC, NCSU) ...
  • Has won seven of the last 10 games against ACC opponents (dating back to 2013) ...
  • Has won eight of the last 11 season openers ...
  • Has won seven of the last nine (and three-straight) first-year head coach season openers ...

    THE SERIES
    NC State leads East Carolina 17-13 all-time in a series which dates back to 1970 ... Although the Pirates trail the overall series against the Wolfpack, ECU has had the upper hand lately - winning three of the last four and eight of the last 13 meetings since 1987 ... ECU has taken three of four contests at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, but the Wolfpack are 15-8 in Raleigh ... The Pirates have also won two of three neutral site matchups, including the 1992 Peach Bowl at Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium.

    PIRATE COACHING DEBUTS
    First-year East Carolina head football coaches have compiled an all-time record of 10-11 when making their Pirate debut in season openers ... Seven of the last nine "new hires" opened their ECU career 1-0, including the last three - Skip Holtz (W/Duke '05), Ruffin McNeill (W/Tulsa '10) and Scottie Montgomery (W/WCU '16).

    HOUSTON AGAINST THE WOLFPACK (0-1)
    Mike Houston has faced NC State only once during his eight-year coaching career, opening the 2018 campaign with a 24-13 setback to the Wolfpack as James Madison's head coach ... Quarterback Ryan Finley completed 29-of-43 passes for 309 yards and two TDs, while Jakobi Meyers led all receivers with 14 grabs for 161 yards and the NC State defense limited the Dukes to just one touchdown.

    EAST CAROLINA AGAINST THE ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE
    ECU has compiled an all-time record of 45-86-1 (.345) against current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference ... In addition to a 13-17 mark against NC State, the Pirates own a 7-15 ledger vs. Virginia Tech, 5-5 vs. Duke, 5-12-1 vs. North Carolina, 4-6 vs. Louisville, 3-6 vs. Syracuse, 2-1 vs. Virginia, 2-2 vs. Pittsburgh, 2-6 vs. Wake Forest, 2-9 vs. Miami and 0-7 vs. Florida State ... As previously mentioned (page 1), ECU has enjoyed a recent run of success against the ACC, winning seven of the last 10 matchups (dating back to Sept. 28, 2013).

    PLAYING IN-STATE FOES
    In all, ECU is 56-63-1 (.471) when playing programs from the state of North Carolina (in order of victories): 18-3 vs. Western Carolina, 13-17 vs. NC State, 12-19 vs. Appalachian State, 5-5 vs. Duke, 5-12-1 vs. UNC, 2-6 vs. Wake Forest, 1-0 vs. North Carolina Central and 0-1 vs. North Carolina A&T ... The Pirates have never faced in-state Division I (FBS or FCS) members Campbell, Charlotte, Elon or Gardner-Webb prior to 2019, but do face the latter next week in their home opener ... Through 2028, ECU has current contracts in place to square off against at least one state of North Carolina program each year with the exception of 2020.

    ON THE ROAD
    Since becoming a conference member in 1997, ECU is 55-87 (.387) when playing away from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium ... The Pirates will try to halt a current eight-game road losing streak when they face NC State on Saturday and try to improve an 1-15 mark since 2016 (only win at Connecticut in 2017).

    LEAGUE, NON-LEAGUE STATISTICAL COMPARISONS
    In its four regular season non-conference contests (2-2) last year, ECU averaged 26.0 points, 124.5 rushing yards, 247.5 passing yards and 372.0 total yards per game ... By comparison, the Pirates averaged 21.1 points, 132.2 rushing yards, 303.4 passing yards and 435.6 total yards in their eight (USF, Temple, Houston, UCF, Memphis, Tulane, UConn, Cincinnati) American Conference games of the 2018 season that produced an 1-7 record.

    AGAINST NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS
    Since accepting membership in a conference, the Pirates have produced a 35-54 (.393) regular season non-league record ... ECU claimed its first winning non-conference mark since 1999 with 3-1 ledgers in 2013 and 2014 before following with 2-2 marks in 2015 & 2016, a 1-3 standing in 2017 and another 2-2 clip in 2018.

    THE AMERICAN - YEAR SIX
    East Carolina has posted an 82-67 (.550) all-time mark against current members of the American Conference ... The Pirates currently sport series records against Memphis (15-8), Cincinnati (13-9), Tulane (11-5), UCF (10-7), Temple (8-8), Tulsa (8-6), Houston (7-7), Connecticut (4-1), SMU (4-3), Navy (1-5) and USF (1-8).

    THE PIRATE NATION - NEARLY 8.7 MILLION STRONG
    ECU has always been able to claim plenty of hometown support, even more so when playing at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium during the fall - establishing among conference attendance leaders on a near annual basis ... In all, a total of 8,695,812 fans have seen the Pirates in action since 1963 ... Since the completion of a 7,000-seat expansion project in 2010 (to push capacity to 50,000), the Pirates have drawn 2,424,526 fans (43,295 per game).

    PROUD HISTORY OF ATTENDANCE LEADERS
    Since becoming a member of the American Athletic Conference in 2014, East Carolina leads the league in overall attendance and average over a collective five-year period ... The Pirates have led the AAC in regular season attendance average three times - 2014, 2016 and 2017 ... Overall on the FBS level, ECU ranked 65th nationally in average (32,908) and 83rd in capacity percentage (65.82) last season.

    SHUTOUT-FREE ... 266 AND COUNTING
    ECU will enter the NC State contest with an active streak of 266 games of not suffering a shutout -a school record (previous mark was 110 set from '71 to '81) ... The last time the Pirates were blanked was on Oct. 4, 1997 (56-0 at Syracuse).

    CHARTING THE PIRATES MONTH-BY-MONTH
    In all, East Carolina is 3-2-0 in August, 127-118-1 in September, 162-158-4 in October, 139-127-5 in November, 9-10-0 in December and 1-4-0 in January ... The Pirates will try to maintain its recent success in August - a month in which ECU has captured three-straight victories (27-22 vs. Virginia Tech on 08/30/08, 52-38 vs. Old Dominion on 08/31/13 and 52-7 vs. North Carolina Central on 08/30/14) ... Before knocking off the Hokies, Monarchs and Eagles, East Carolina dropped its initial two August tilts, falling to Illinois (38-31) in 1991 and to Duke (23-16) in 2002.

    ANALYZING THE 2019 OVERALL SCHEDULE
    ECU's 2019 scheduled opponents posted a combined 70-77 (.476) record in 2018 ... The Pirates' four non-conference foes were 20-26 (.435), while the eight AAC squads tallied a collective 50-51 (.495) mark ... Two programs had 10 or more wins, including UCF (12) and Cincinnati (11) ... Some other notables:
    WHO WENT BOWLING ... In all, ECU's slate features contests against five teams which advanced to bowl games a year ago ... In addition to NC State (TaxSlayer Gator), USF (Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla), Temple (Walk-On's Independence), Cincinnati (Military) and UCF (PlayStation Fiesta) each made postseason appearances last season ... Half of ECU's six home games will be against 2018 bowl qualifiers.
    IN THE FINAL POLLS ... Three of ECU's opponents were ranked or received votes in college football's two major polls (Associated Press/Amway Coaches) to end the 2018 season - UCF (11/12), Cincinnati (24/23) and NC State (RV/RV) ... The Knights (8th) were also included on the last CFP ranking prior to falling to LSU in the Fiesta Bowl.
    THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS ... ECU will head into its Oct. 3 meeting with Temple at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium having split (4-4) its last eight Thursday contests since 2010, which includes an earlier 24-14 setback to the Owls at home in 2015 ... However, the Pirates will try to make it two in row after knocking off UCF 44-7 in its last Thursday night encounter later during the 2015 season.

    STARTING WHERE YOU ENDED
    By meeting NC State at Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday, East Carolina will open a new year (and era) against the same opponent it played in the final game of the previous season - a first for the Pirates since 2002-2003 (Cincinnati), which also featured a coaching change from Steve Logan to John Thompson ... The last time ECU had to play "both" contests on the road was in 1968-1969 (at East Tennessee State).

    BEEN THROUGH THE WARS
    ECU's (10) assistant coaches bring an impressive 181 combined years of full-time Division I coaching experience to the Pirate program ... In addition, members of Mike Houston's staff have also turned in 33 combined seasons as a coordinator at college football's top level (FBS) ...ECU's staff also has two former collegiate head coaches - Donnie Kirkpatrick (UTChattanooga/2000-02) and Byron Thweatt (Virginia State/2015).

    MUCH IS BACK ... STATISTICALLY SPEAKING
    Offensively, the Pirates return 74 percent of their rushing yards (1,156 of 1,556) and an even more impressive 99 percent of their passing yards (3,396 of 3,417) from a year ago ... On defense, ECU welcomes back over 60 percent of its tackles (539 of 888) and nearly 64 percent of its turnover production (seven of 11; 3/5 interceptions and 4/6 fumble recoveries) ... From a scoring standpoint, players who accounted for 192 of East Carolina's 273 points last season are on the 2019 active roster (70 percent).

    LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE
    The Pirates return 63.8 percent of their lettermen from a year ago, yet features a lineup which includes 49 freshmen (32 true, 17 redshirt) - which represents 46.7 percent of East Carolina's 2019 roster (and stands among the Top 15 "youngest" teams nationally).

    "EXPERIENCED" REDSHIRTS
    While 18 true freshman experienced action in 2018, only nine surpassed the four-game limit mandated by the NCAA ... That said, the other nine return as "experienced" redshirt freshmen: IR Maceo Donald (3 games played), DL Damir Faison (2), DL Dorian Hardy (2), DB Damel Hickman (4), OR Andre Pegues (1), DB Jaren Rainey (1), IR Tyler Snead (4) and DB Jireh Wilson (2).

    FIRST-TIME STARTERS?
    There could be as many as five (5) first-time ECU starters in the Pirates' lineup against NC State on Saturday - three on the offensive side of the ball (RG Sean Bailey, RT Noah Henderson, OR Mydreon Vines) and two more on defense (CB Ja'Quan McMillian, OLB Gerard Stringer) ... East Carolina had 19 (13/offense, 6/defense) first-time starters in 2018.

    FALL CAMP SCRIMMAGE RECAPS
    Scrimmage 1 (Aug. 10) - East Carolina compiled 576 yards of total offense and accounted for six touchdowns ... Defensively, the Pirate defense netted an interception and racked up 12 tackles for lost yardage ... Reid Herring completed 12-of-23 passes for a game-high 165 yards and one score (Tyler Snead/24-yarder), while Holton Ahlers was 14-of-22 for 142 yards and two TDs (Mydreon Vines/18-yarder, Andre Pegues/19-yarder) ... Ahlers also led all rushers with 113 yards and 3 touchdowns on six carries, while Jonathan Johnson topped all pass catchers with four grabs for 60 yards ... ILB Xavier Smith was ECU's top tackler with 10 stops (and a TFL), while Jireh Wilson added eight stops and Kendall Futrell contributed two TFLs and a sack.
    Scrimmage 2 (Aug. 17) - The situational contest featured 442 yards (361 passing, 81 rushing) ... Ahlers was 13-of-23 for 259 yards and one TD - fi nding Blake Proehl on a 34-yard scoring toss ... True freshman Demetrius Mauney led all Pirates in rushing with 38 yards on 10 totes ... Davondre Robinson booked seven stops and picked off a pair of passes to lead a defensive unit that recorded 13 TFLs and three overall takeaways.

    NINE OF 10 ISN'T BAD
    In each of last nine seasons (since 2010), ECU has logged Top 10 entries in the school's single season passing yards list ... The top three units - 2014 (4,835), 2013 (4,265) and 2010 (4,143) - had a common coaching denominator of sorts as current offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick served on Ruffin McNeill's staff as the Pirates' inside receivers mentor ... By the way, the 1991 Peach Bowl squad is the lone "outlier" at No. 9.

    TOP PASSING UNIT IN AMERICAN HISTORY
    Since joining the AAC in 2014, the Pirates lead the league in passing yards per game over a combined five-year period despite utilizing eight starting quarterbacks, three offensive coordinators and two head coaches: 1. ECU (319.0), 2. Memphis (284.7), 3. Cincinnati (272.1), 4. Houston (266.3) and 5. UCF (245.2) ... In addition, the Pirates also top the league in completions (1,674), attempts (2,775) and total air yards (19,458) ... ECU has also accounted for a conference-high 16 400-yard passing games.

    1K RECEIVER = LOOKING FOR EIGHT-STRAIGHT YEARS
    ECU has featured at least one 1,000-yard receiver in seven-straight seasons, which ranks first at the FBS level ... Trevon Brown helped the Pirates extend the streak in 2018 by surpassing the 1K mark (for the second consecutive year) vs. UConn ... ECU 1,000-yard receivers include: 2012 Justin Hardy (1,105), 2013 Hardy (1,284), 2014 Hardy (1,494) and Cam Worthy (1,016), 2015 Zay Jones (1,099), 2016 Jones (1,746), 2017 Trevon Brown (1,069) and 2018 Brown (1,123).

    DECADE RECEIVING LEADERS
    In the last decade (since 2008), ECU has produced 10 1,000-yard receivers, which also leads the FBS level along with SMU ... NOTE - ECU has the top two receivers in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history by career receptions in Zay Jones (399 from 2013-16) and Justin Hardy (387 from 2011-2014) ... In terms of FBS single-season reception leaders, the Pirates are just one of two programs (Nevada) to have three entries in the Top 25 listings - 1. Jones (158/2016), 20. Hardy (121/2014), 25. Hardy (114/2013).

    DEFENSIVE FCS DOMINANCE FOR TROTT
    First-year ECU Defensive Coordinator Bob Trott built quite a formidable unit during his recent tenure in the same role at James Madison ... During a three-year span from 2016 to 2018, JMU collectively ranked first nationally at the FCS level in turnovers forced (97), interceptions (66) and defensive pass efficiency (99.8), while standing second in scoring defense (15.7), third in completion percentage (50.4) and yards per pass attempt (5.91), fourth in sacks (111) and sixth in total defense (296.9) ... In all, he tutored seven FCS All-America selections, a national and CAA defensive player-of-the-year choice and 18 all-league picks while guiding the Dukes' "D" ... Trott was named FCS Defensive Coordinator-of-the-Year by FootballScoop.com in 2017.

    AHLERS REWIND PART I - (TRUE) FRESHMEN QB RUSHING
    Holton Ahlers made an immediate impact as a true freshman in 2018 with a team-best 592 rushing yards, six TD on 119 carries ... Since his debut vs. UNC (8-36, 2 TD), he posted team-high rushing outings in eight of his last nine games - which includes a century-mark performance (12-130 vs. UConn) ... Among all true FBS rookies a year ago, Ahlers stood second in rushing yardage and second in rush TDs.

    AHLERS REWIND PART II - (TRUE) FRESHMEN QB PASSING
    Ahlers passed for 400-plus yards in two-straight contests last year (an ECU freshman-first), which ranked second and third at the FBS level for true rookies in a single game (449/Memphis, 406/UCF) ... Ahlers was the only QB at FBS level to have multiple (2) games with 60+ pass attempts.

    AHLERS REWIND PART III - (TRUE) FRESHMEN QB TOTAL OFFENSE
    Lastly, Ahlers stood fifth among all true freshmen QBs in total yards last season (2,377 yards: 592/rush, 1,785/pass) ... Ahlers compiled 1,985 total yards (397.0 ypg) as the Pirates' starter in the last 5 games ... He also had 60+ pass attempts/15+ rush attempts in two FBS games - a first since 2000.

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