Lets start with that offense, because there is much to like about it. Ruffin McNeil is a firm branch on the Mike Leach tree. While McNeil was on the defensive side of the ball in Lubbock before coming back home to Greenville his offense has been pure 100 percent Air Raid since taking the job. In the interim the Pirates have had plenty of passing success since then, but the offense really kicked into a higher gear when Shane Carden got there.
Carden is on pace to not so much break David Gerrard's record for passing yards as to shatter it into a million little pieces. His biggest weapon is receiver Justin Hardy who has already shattered the Pirates career receiving yards record into a million little pieces. Hardy has a solid running mate in Sophomore Isaiah Jones and a bunch of solid role players surrounding them.
The Pirates don't even try to run the football with consistency, but they do have four backs with 8 or 9 carries and between 61 and 92 yards. They are efficient when they run basically because they only run when it is to their advantage to do so. In short the offense is really clever and really good.
The problem is that neither clever nor good could be applied to this defense without falling about in laughter. There isn't anything that I like about this defense. They don't pressure the passer well, accordingly the don't defend the pass very well either. While they are not exactly a sieve against the run, I don't suspect that any team that will try to run on them will discover much resistance.
ECU is good enough on offense to ensure that they will be reasonably expected to win most of their conference games. The problem is that their defense will ensure that each and every game they play will be a game. Outside of UConn and maybe Tulane there isn't a game where I would feel any confidence betting money, even five bucks on the Pirates because of that defense. I dislike team's with narrow margins, and ECU is just such a team.