Mike Houston

Coach Mike Houston watches the field from the sideline during one of ECU's 2019 football games.

After the team lost the season opener against the University of Central Florida (UCF) on Sept. 26, the East Carolina University (0-1, 0-1 AAC) football team has room to grow as the team already sits at the bottom of American Athletic Conference (AAC) standings.

ECU fought to the very end of a 23-point loss to the now No. 11 ranked UCF (2-0, 1-0 AAC). The Pirates lost the turnover battle, where they fumbled the ball on three-straight offensive drives and had one interception thrown by junior quarterback Holton Alhers. UCF took advantage of the offensive miscues and gave the Pirate defense a tough time, where they scored 42-unanswered points.

On its first drive, ECU appeared to have everything work right for them. The Pirates drove the ball down the field in just over three minutes for the junior running back Darius Pinnix Jr. to score the quick touchdown, according to ECU Pirates. Unfortunately, this was the one of the only things that went positive for the Pirates.

In comparison to the rest of the conference, ECU is not the only team to start 0-1. The University of Tulsa (0-1, 0-0 AAC) lost its first game against Oklahoma State University (2-0, 1-0 Big 12) on Sept. 19 with a final score of 16-7.

Two teams in the AAC have yet to play their season opener. The University of Houston (0-0, 0,0 AAC) will play its first game on Oct. 8 against Tulane University (2-1, 0-1 AAC) while Temple University (0-0, 0-0 AAC) will play the United States Naval Academy (1-1, 1-0 AAC) on Oct. 10, according to their respective schedules.

ECU is the only team in the conference to be 0-1 overall while also 0-1 against conference opponents, which places the team at the very bottom of the standings. This should not come as a discouragement to the Pirates once it is considered that UCF sits at both the top of the AAC and ranks No. 11 among the NCAA.

Of course, the Pirates need to cut back on the mistakes offensively in order to improve going forward. ECU started and ended strongly in the first game, but there were too many turnovers in between to give UCF easy scoring opportunities.

The Pirates even outscored the Knights in the fourth quarter of the first game. After ending the third quarter with a touchdown pass to sophomore receiver C.J. Johnson, ECU finished strong with another touchdown run by Pinnix Jr. and a touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Tyler Snead.

Looking at this season’s team, there seems to be more fight, even when down big. The final score came with 0:19 left on the game clock, according to ECU Pirates, showing that this team is willing to fight to the end.

When compared to the rest of the conference, the Pirates defense easily gave up the most yards. According to ECU Pirates, UCF created over 600 yards of offense and a total of 51 points, which decimated ECU’s defense. The amount of scoring allowed is partly due to the sloppy play from the offense, but the Pirates gave up big plays as well, including a 64-yard touchdown pass from UCF sophomore quarterback Dillon Gabriel to redshirt sophomore Jaylon Robinson.

The Pirates will need to fix the miscues quickly as they prepare to travel to Atlanta, Georgia for the non-conference matchup against Georgia State University (0-1, 0-1 SBC) on Oct. 3 at Noon.

Moving up in the standings ultimately depends on the several conference games following this weekend’s contest. By starting at the bottom, there is nowhere to go but up, but the Pirates will need to string some wins together quickly.

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