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Grading the Defense: Week 12

*Sighs heavily*

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at East Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

If you happen to wander over to FootballOutsiders.com and check out its S&P+ ratings, you’ll have to take quite a scroll down the page to find the East Carolina Pirates. They are nearly at the bottom, ranking No. 121 out of 130. However, their offensive S&P+ rating is much higher (51). That might actually seem too low if you saw how they played against the Cincinnati Bearcats this past weekend.

With passes flying from start to finish, the Pirates racked up 578 yards of total offense on the Bearcats, who put forth one of their worst defensive efforts of a forgettable season. If you’d like to read more about the wonder of Gardner Minshew and the Pirates passing attack, then head over to Underdog Dynasty. We, unfortunately, will have to pick through the remains of this defensive dud.

Defensive Line

The Good: At least ECU didn’t get a ton going on the ground. The Pirates only averaged 3.5 yards per carry while finishing with 114 yards. Kevin Mouhon was the best player on the line, as he recorded seven tackles, including one of four for loss from the Bearcats. Mark Wilson also had a tackle for loss. Curtis Brooks, Lyndon Johnson and Marcus Brown each had a quarterback hit.

The Bad: There were no sacks from the line (or the rest of the defense) and that just meant Minshew was able to sit back in the pocket and make every throw he wanted. Marquise Copeland played a pretty quiet game and Cortez Broughton continued his underwhelming season with only two tackles.

Final Grade: D+

Linebackers

The Good: The linebackers were the most effective defenders when it came to bringing players down. Perry Young, Jarell White and Jaylyin Minor ranked first, second and third, respectively, in tackles. Young had nine stops, White had eight and Minor had seven. White’s play has been strong as he’s become a regular starter, which is a good sign for the freshman.

The Bad: No sacks and very little pressure came from the linebackers. Young, White and Minor may have had a lot of tackles, but they combined for only one for loss and not a single bit of contact on Minshew. Minor did break up a pass, so that’s something.

Final Grade: C

Secondary

The Good: Not available.

The Bad: All of it. ECU finished with 464 yards through the air, averaging 14.5 yards per completion while producing five passing touchdowns. It was almost as if Trevon Brown wasn’t being covered as he finished with 270 yards and two scores on nine receptions.

Final Grade: F

Overall

The most glaring issue here was UC’s inability to stop the pass. Minshew went back time and time again and the Bearcats just couldn’t stop him or Brown. ECU also gained 28 first downs (19 by way of the pass), went 8-of-16 on third down and controlled the ball for more than 33 minutes. Oh and I haven’t even mentioned that they scored 48 points. This was not a game Luke Fickell will be remembered for (hopefully).

Final Grade: F