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Opponent Preview: East Carolina

Greenville is a lovely town which could use a better football team

East Carolina v SMU Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

You know what my deal is by now.

Every week, I try to talk up Cincinnati’s opponent like they are a combination of the ‘85 Bears, ‘72 Dolphins, and ‘27 Yankees.

I’m not going to do that this week.

I’m not going to do that because East Carolina just isn’t a very good football team in 2020. They weren’t in 2019 or 2018 or 2017 or 2016 or even 2015. They haven’t been much of a club since 2014, when they posted an 8-5 mark under Ruffin McNeil.

Greenville (Not Greensboro), North Carolina is a lovely town and the Pirates continue to draw great crowds, year-in and year-out, despite their lack of football or basketball success. I admire their strong support for their school. A small city with abundant college athletics to watch and a favorable climate makes Greenville one of America’s most livable cities. They deserve a better football team. But that’s not happening in 2020.

East Carolina does have some horses.

When he has time, junior quarterback Holton Ahlers is an excellent passer, a sturdy in the saddle gunslinger in the mold of Drew Bledsoe. Despite the Pirates’ general baditude, Ahlers has posted strong numbers, throwing 12 TD passes against 5 picks in 6 games.

Pocket rocket Tyler Snead is sneakily one of the AAC’s best receivers. This Julian Edelman type is on pace for 100 catches in the 2020 campaign.

Squat halfback Rahjai Harris can make things happen when he has room and there are a lot worse offensive lines in the AAC.

Problem is that the Pirates just can’t stop anybody on defense. Outside of their 44-24 win over USF, ECU has not displayed much ability to shut down an opponent’s offense. DB Jireh Wilson is a standout on defense, a veritable linebacker in a safety’s body, but other than that head coach Mike Houston needs to rebuild this unit if ECU hopes to compete in the near future in the AAC.

Expect Cincinnati to lay the smack down by whatever score they feel like on Friday night.