Can UAB Slow ECU's Three-Headed Monster?
By Dan Harralson
UAB will have its hands full Saturday as the Blazers travel to East Carolina and take on the Pirates' potent offense.
UAB head coach Garrick McGee reassigned Jimmy Williams to defensive coordinator following the loss to Florida Atlantic and since the shuffling of the staff, UAB is 1-3 and has given up 156 points. Are the Blazers ready to defend ECU's three-headed monster?
The Blazers are giving up 40 points per game, while ECU is putting up 39 points per game. It's going to be a long afternoon for McGee's defense if it cannot find a way to slow down the Pirates offensive attack.
The ECU offense starts with quarterback Shane Carden. Carden has guided ECU to a 7-2 record. The Pirates sit atop the C-USA East Division and most likely will play at Marshall for the divisional crown on Nov. 29.
Carden is successful in the Pirates' uptempo offense not only by his ability, but due to the offensive threats around him. Wide receiver Justin Hardy eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau in last week's 58-24 victory over Tulsa. Hardy reeled in 10 receptions for 99 yards and scored one touchdown.
ECU also has a running game that compliments the high-paced offense. Running back Vintavious Cooper is a consistent 15-carry back. ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill has rushed Cooper 20 or more times in a game only three times this season. Cooper's biggest game came at North Carolina (35 rushes for 186 yards).
How Can UAB Slow Down ECU?
Lets face it, it will be a tough task for the Blazers (2-7, 1-4) to contain Carden and company. The Pirates offense already has passed the 4,000 total yards through nine games and is well on pace to surpass last season's total yards of 5,311. ECU is putting up 341 yards a game through the air and this may be the most decisive point in the result of Saturday's game.
UAB has not defended the pass well, giving up 273 yards a game through the air. Since Jimmy Williams took over as defensive coordinator, UAB's defense has given up 302 passing yards to Florida International, 275 to UTSA, 170 to MTSU and 276 to Marshall.
If ECU is successful early with its passing game, the Pirates may give Cooper more rushing attempts to get ready for the conclusion of the regular season. ECU will need to have a running presence when the Pirates travel to North Carolina State and Marshall.
East Carolina 47, UAB 20