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GREENVILLE, N.C. - Fresh off a 55-31 win over North Carolina, the Pirates have to refocus on Conference USA play when ECU travels to Middle Tennessee this Saturday at 3:30 pm eastern time.
The Blue Radiers were soundly defeated by BYU by a score of 37-10 last week. Middle Tennessee led 10-7 in the first quarter, but BYU's defense pitched a shutout for the final three quarters of the game.
Middle Tennessee was limited to 13 first downs and only 212 yards of total offense. The ironic thing was BYU controlled the game that despite suffering four turnovers.
Quarterback Logan Kilgore completed only 13 of 31 through the air for 82 yards, one touchdown and an interception in Middle Tennnessee's multiple offense. Jordan Parker and Reggie Whatley got most of the running duties, combining for 71 yards against the Cougars.
Jeremiah Bryson caught four passes for a total of 20 yards and Marcus Henry had three recepetions for 28 yards and a touchdown last week. Those are two of the names to watch catching the football for Middle Tennessee.
"Stock is a very experienced coach. They have very good skill receivers and Stock's got that old school part where he likes to run the football. I've known Stock ever since I got into college coaching. We've gone against Tyrone (Nix) before," said McNeill, "Tyrone is a very good defensive coordinator. He is a guy I'm very familiar with. Kilgore reminds me a lot of Taylor at ODU. He is a guy who can make all of the throws he's a great leader."
Shane Carden brought his A-game on Saturday completing 32 of 47 for 376 yards. He ran for three short touchdowns and passed for three more in East Carolina's third win of the season. It was their first in Chapel Hill since 1975 and only the second time overall. He was named Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.
Vintavious Cooper ran for 186 yards behind a quality ECU offensive line effort that proved that they belong on Saturday.
But the emergence of the East Carolina defense continues to be an evolving story. They turned in another great performance, showing the depth of ECU personnel over the past two games. Chip Thompson and Adonis Armstrong came up big with seven and nine tackles respectively.
"Very proud of the win on Saturday. It was a hard fought, physical game. Ten percent is what happens to you and ninety percent is how you react to it. I was proud of how the team reacted," said McNeill, I was very pleased in how the boys responded. Our team did a great job and our coaches did a great job. We talked about what would give us the best chance for success in the game. I'm proud of the Pirate family from the trainers to coaches, staff and fans. I'm just glad to get back on the winning track. To get back on the field, win and see the kids and the look in their eye. The travel team got to hear how proud we were of them on Saturday but the scout team got to hear it on Sunday. The guys who aren't on the travel team. To see that locker room after the game was very gratifying."
East Carolina hopes to have that same kind of focused performance in Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro that seats 31,000 this week. The Blue Raders play on Sportexe PowerBlade artificial turf which could make for a quite a show of speed from the Pirates.
"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery
so make today a masterpiece," McNeill said on Monday, "This is our second conference contest, an important part of our goals, so we've got to be ready to go. I've asked the team to drown out the noise. Positive or negative. The screws are never too tight and the hay is never in the barn. Now we've got to move on to Middle Tennessee. That's the discipline we have to have."
This is Middle Tennessee's first year in Conference USA and East Carolina's last so this could be the only meeting between the two schools in football.
Ruffin McNeill recaps the UNC victory and the upcoming week's opponent, Middle Tennessee State. Catch it here on and PI-TV and PirateIllustrated.com