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Protect Yer Booty: Pack Heads To Greenville To Face Pirates

October 15, 2010

ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGHHHHH *cough cough* rrrrrgh...

(With the obligatory pirate/booty reference is out of the way, we can move on to the game.)

Frankly, this game scares the hell out of me.

Yeah, sure, I guess they all do. There are years of emotional scar tissue that now cover the part of me deep down that believed State would win every game.

But trust me, I do have a couple of legitimate reasons why I think State should be concerned about ECU and not take them lightly:

1. The rivalry factor. If you’re a State fan who says “ECU’s not our rival, Carolina is,” and also gets pissed off when you hear “State’s not our rival, Duke is,” from Carolina fans, you should smack yourself for being the dirty hypocrite that you are. ECU is a rival, just like Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest all are. We can debate the varying degrees to which each school draws our ire but make no mistake that East Carolina is on that list, and pretty high up there.

Many of the in-school talent that plays for State was also recruited by the Pirates, and vice versa. Most of the North Carolina kids on the two squads played against or camped with each other at one time or another, so there will be plenty of motivation on both sides to prove they made the right decision when they attended their respective schools.

As such, the school that sets the tone in the game early will have the upper hand the rest of the game. If the Pirates come out and punch State in the mouth with a quick score or a score off a turnover, the Pack will need to get off the mat quickly; otherwise the crowd will fuel the Pirate players to play at their peak, which may in turn create additional pressure to perform on the part of the Wolfpack. State will need to take the lead early and extend it to take the crowd out of the game.

2. The Pirates’ passing attack and offense is a potent unit. There’s no doubt about it—the Pirates can score some points. They’re 12th in the country in points-scored-per-game at 37.6, one tenth of a point above #13 State and its 37.5 PPG. They love to throw it around the yard, as well, currently 13th in the passing yardage per game.

If State’s front seven can’t generate a sufficient pass rush against the Pirates and they get the ball out quickly, the Pirates could pull a “Cutcliffe” on us and gash our secondary for short-to-intermediate gains all up and down the field. It will be imperative to get in the Pirates backfield early and often and to force them to run the ball. They’re weak on the ground relative to the passing game, so State would certainly prefer to force them to earn their yards the hard way.

The Pirates will be ready to go Saturday. If State is, as well, then the Pack should win. But when it comes to East Carolina, nothing comes easy and nothing’s guaranteed.

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