This Saturday East Carolina will face off against Connecticut inside Dowdy-Ficklen stadium for homecoming, in an attempt to reverse its losing woes.
“A win this week would go a long way in solving a lot of things,” said ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery.
Watching its losing streak rise to five last week, ECU will facing perhaps its last chance to stay in bowl contention from here on out. Luckily, the Pirates are set to tee off on a UConn team which isn’t doing much better.
At 3-5 and 1-4 in the American Athletic Conference, UConn, like ECU, has beat a less talented Maine and has pulled off a win against an Atlantic Coast Conference school in Virginia. The Huskies clinched their lone conference win against Cincinnati, who the Pirates lost to last week.
UConn boasts a defense allowing only 13 points in wins, but in losses the average nearly triples to 33 points per game. Once again this will be a game left in the hands of a Pirate offense who basically fear the red zone at this point.
“Defensively, one of their impact players is Folorunso Fatukasi. He does more than just sack the quarterback — he dominates the line of scrimmage,” said Montgomery. “Junior Joseph is another big-time impact player for their defense and Jamar Summers gives them size at the cornerback spot.”
In the Huskies’ lone conference win, they held Cincinnati to just nine points, showing their defensive potential. Putting it into perspective, Cincinnati scored 31 points against the Pirates last week.
“Offensively, they are not the UConn I remember from a few years back where they get into 12 personnel and come downhill the whole time,” said Montgomery. “Noel Thomas, Jr. is a fantastic player. He accounts for about 60 to 70 percent of their offense in the passing game. I think he has 70 or more receptions at this time of the year.”
Averaging 20 points per game, UConn’s offense will be squaring off with a frustrated ECU defense. The Pirates saw one bad penalty take the wind out of what could have been the turn-around play of the game last week, in Corey Seargent’s called-back interception.
“It was a critical juncture in the game because they knew that our player would be down and they would go right back at him,” said Montgomery. “We have to be careful to keep the young man’s spirits up because I think it was defended as cleanly as I’ve seen a slant route defended. I apologize for being animated on some of those calls but I stand with my players because I am passionate about coaching them.”
The ECU defense will once again be relied on to keep the game close as the offense continues to search for its identity. Sophomore Shawn Furlow will see his first action of the season at running back, relieving Anthony Scott of his duties as the No. 2, while Montgomery searches for a spark at the scat back position behind James Summers.
The game is set for a noon kickoff, ECU will put its 11-game homecoming win streak on the line.