GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina will “Paint It Black!” and celebrate the 900th game in program history when it hosts South Florida for an American Athletic Conference matchup at 7:30 p.m. Thursday inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
The prime time nationally-televised tilt against the Bulls will also open a two-game homestand for the Pirates, who will welcome Temple to Greenville next Saturday (Nov. 6). ECU will try to post its first-ever home win over USF (0-5) in a series that dates back to 2002 and features a combined scoring average of nearly 60 points per contest.
The Pirates will also be shooting to match their highest single-season victory total since 2015.
EAST CAROLINA RECORDS AND STREAKS
Has forced at least one turnover in 15-straight games (and in 26 of the last 27) …
Has netted at least one interception in eight of the last nine games …
Has converted 21 of 23 of its 2021 redzone visits into points (12 TDs, 9 FGs) …
Has thrown at least one touchdown pass in nine-straight games (20 TD strikes during run) …
Has won nine of 12 games when wearing all black uniforms (combo introduced in 2013) …
Will be looking for its first 2-2 American Athletic Conference “start” since 2015 …
Will be looking to post successive wins over USF for the first time in series history (2002-21) …
USF leads East Carolina 9-2 all-time in a series which dates back to 2002 … The 2003 and 2004 meetings were league contests while both programs were members of Conference USA, while the last seven matchups (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020) have served as the Bulls’ and Pirates’ initial half-dozen American Athletic Conference encounters … The Pirates are 2-3 against the Bulls in Tampa and winless (0-5) in Greenville.
MIKE HOUSTON AGAINST THE BULLS
East Carolina’s 44-24 win against South Florida last year and a 45-20 setback in 2019 serves as Mike Houston’s only prior meetings against the Bulls … During his earlier eight-year tenure as a NCAA Division II and FCS collegiate head coach (Lenoir-Rhyne, The Citadel and James Madison), he never squared off against USF.
JEFF SCOTT AGAINST THE PIRATES
Despite the “relative” close proximity of the Clemson and East Carolina campuses, Saturday will only mark Jeff Scott’s second matchup against the Pirates (see 2020 in series note above) … The Tigers are just one of three current ACC members to have never appeared on an ECU schedule (Boston College, Georgia Tech) … The Pirates also did not compete against Presbyterian while Scott was a member of the Blue Hose staff in 2007.
ECU & USF COACHING CONNECTIONS
East Carolina and USF each feature Skip Holtz on its all-time head coach roster page … Holtz was 16-21 (.432) while guiding the Bulls for three seasons (2010-12) after leading the Pirates to a 38-27 (.585) mark, two C-USA titles and a run of four-straight bowl appearances from 2005 to 2009 … Additionally, current ECU assistant coaches Steve Shankweiler (OL) and Steve Ellis (CB) held similar roles at USF in 2010-12 and 2019, respectively.
BULLS, KNIGHTS, ‘CANES, ‘NOLES, GATORS, OWLS AND PANTHERS
The Pirates have dropped 38 of 54 all-time matchups (16-38) against FBS (formerly Division I-A) programs from the state of Florida … ECU is 10-10 vs. UCF, 2-9 vs. Miami, 1-0 vs. Florida Atlantic, 1-0 vs. Florida International, 2-9 vs. USF, 0-3 vs. Florida and 0-7 vs. Florida State … The Pirates have lost 13 of the last 15 contests against schools from Florida (posting road wins against UCF in the 2015 road finale and versus USF last year).
COMPARING 10-YEAR, SEVEN GAME RESULTS
East Carolina’s 31-24 overtime setback at Houston dropped the Pirates’ record to 3-4 for the second time in the last three years (2019) … A victory over USF would give ECU a 4-4 ledger for the first time since 2015 and for only the second time in the last 10 seasons, but a loss against the Bulls would also mark the second time in the last three years the Pirates opened a year at 3-5 (also 2019).
AT DOWDY-FICKLEN STADIUM
East Carolina’s all-time record at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is 194-110 (.638) … The Pirates opened the facility on Sept. 21, 1963 with a 20-10 win over Wake Forest in front of 17,000 fans, celebrated the stadium’s 50th anniversary in 2013 and recently hosted its 300th game vs. Tulane in 2020 … Before a 2-1 clip this year, a 1-3 record last year and a collective 13-19 mark from 2015-2019, ECU was 5-1 in 2014, 2013 and 2012 (15-3) and won a combined 10 of 12 home matchups in 2009 (6-1) and 2008 (4-1) … Overall, ECU has posted 39 winning campaigns at DFS since 1963.
THE PIRATE NATION – OVER 9 MILLION STRONG
East Carolina has usually been able to claim plenty of hometown support when playing at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium – establishing itself among conference attendance leaders on a near annual basis … In all, a total of 9,018,978 fans have seen the Pirates in action since 1963, and since the completion of a 7,000-seat expansion project in 2010 (to push capacity to 50,000), the Pirates have drawn 2,747,689 fans.
AGAINST NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS
The Pirates have produced a 40-58 (.408) regular season non-league record, which includes a 2-2 clip in 2021 … East Carolina fell to Appalachian State and South Carolina to open the season before rallying back to post victories against Marshall and Charleston Southern … During his first season as head coach at ECU in 2019, Mike Houston led the Pirates to a 3-1 record – the program’s first winning non-conference ledger since 2014
SHUTOUT-FREE … 294 AND COUNTING
East Carolina will enter the USF contest with an active streak of 294 games of not suffering a shutout – a school record (previous mark was 110 set from ’71-’81) … The last time the Pirates were blanked was on Oct. 4, 1997 (56-0 at Syracuse) … ECU’s 294-game run currently ranks among the Top 10 nationally (Florida is first with 418).
CHARTING THE PIRATES MONTH-BY-MONTH
In all, East Carolina is 3-3-0 in August, 131-122-1 in September, 164-166-4 in October, 142-132-5 in November, 9-10-0 in December and 1-4-0 in January … In addition to the Pirates’ 1-2 ledger this October, ECU has dropped 17 of its last 22 games dating back to 2015 … At home, ECU recently snapped a six-game skid by downing Tulane on Oct. 2 but has still lost eight of the last 12 … In terms of conference action, ECU has lost 12 of the last 14 … Overall, the Pirates are 8-17 vs. the AAC in October … The Pirates’ last perfect month of October was in 2014 – three-straight wins (SMU, USF and UConn).
A STARTERS’ LOG
WR Tyler Snead (22 games) and ILB Bruce Bivens (12) own the program’s longest starting streaks on offense and defense entering the South Florida matchup.
2021 PIRATE GRADUATES (11)
OL Sean Bailey, ILB Bruce Bivens, WR Cam Burnette, TE Zech Byrd, RB/WR Maceo Donald, OL Bailey Malovic, WR Audie Omotosho, ILB Aaron Ramseur, SAF Warren Saba, WR Tyler Snead, P Jonn Young.
THE MIKE HOUSTON (GROUND) STAMP OF APPROVAL
East Carolina’s 1,052-yard rushing total in 2021 marks the program’s sixth-highest seven-game clip since 2000 … In addition, the Pirates have posted eight (8) 200-yard rushing contests in the Mike Houston era (2/2019, 5/2020, 1/2021).
Keaton Mitchell (124/CIN, 103/TEM in 2020 and 135/MAR, 125/CSU, 222/TLN in 2021) became the first Pirates’ RB in eight years to post five career 100-yard rushing contests when he eclipsed triple digits vs. Tulane on Oct. 2 … Rahjai Harris currently has three, so his next century mark outing will be the first time since 2003 that ECU will feature teammates with at least four each (Marvin Townes/5, Art Brown/4) … Individually, Dominique Lindsay posted five in 2009 for the most recent single-season best.
LIVING A PIRATES’ LIFE
After having its 11-game streak with at least one takeaway snapped during the ’20 season opener vs. UCF, East Carolina’s defense started a new run by generating at least one turnover in the final eighth-straight contests last year … In all, the Pirates will enter this week’s USF clash having forced a TO in 15 consecutive games, the longest since a 33-game run (from 2007 to 2010).
AMONG TOP PASSING UNITS IN AMERICAN HISTORY
Since joining the American Athletic Conference in 2014, the Pirates stand second in passing yards over a combined seven-plus year period despite utilizing nine starting quarterbacks, four offensive coordinators and three head coaches: 1. Memphis (28,722), 2. East Carolina (26,869), 3. UCF (24,886), 4. SMU (24,421), 5. Cincinnati (23,721), 6. Houston (23,520), 7. Tulsa (22,724), 8. Temple (21,628), 9. South Florida (19,138), 10. Tulane (17,074) and 11. Navy (7,710) … However, the Pirates top the league in completions (2,267) and attempts (3,764) … ECU has also accounted for a conference-high 18 400-yard passing games and surpassed the 300-yard mark on 47 occasions during the 86-game span … On a related note, the top two receivers in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history by career receptions – Zay Jones (399 from 2013-16) and Justin Hardy (387 from 2011-2014) – are former East Carolina players.
SWISS ARMY KNIFE & RECEPTION STREAK
Slot receiver/return specialist Tyler Snead has averaged 119.8 all-purpose yards in his last 12 games (244 vs. Temple alone in ’20) … On offense, Snead has caught at least one pass in 28 consecutive games (dating back to 2019) – tops on the unit and currently the 11th-longest streak at the FBS level.
LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE
Keaton Mitchell currently stands third at the FBS level in yards per carry average, netting 7.7 yards per attempt … He has a team-leading eight carries that have surpassed 20 or more yards, four which have eclipsed 60 (88-TD/Marshall, 74-TD/Charleston Southern, 68-TD/Tulane, 62/Tulane) … His 222-yard rushing performance vs. Tulane on Oct. 2 were the most by a Pirate RB since first round draft choice Chris Johnson racked up 223 against Boise State in the 2007 Hawai’i Bowl
NO PASSING ZONE
Cornerback Ja’Quan McMillian currently leads all of FBS in passes defended and stands 2nd in total interceptions (4) and 3rd in interceptions per game (0.57) … He’s already enjoyed a streak of picking off a pass in three-straight games (Marshall, Charleston Southern and Tulane), while also netting an INT in the season opener vs. Appalachian State … In addition, McMillian tops all Pirate defenders in tackles with 41 and was selected as one of 12 semifinalists for the 2021 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award on Monday.
A COMEBACK FOR THE AGES
East Carolina put together its biggest fourth-quarter comeback (-17, 38-21 with 7:30 left) in ECU history during Pirates’ 42-38 win at Marshall on Sept. 18 since rallying past NC State 37-34 (-17, 34-17 with 7:26 left) on Jan. 1, 1992 to capture the Peach Bowl at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
FROM THE TREASURE CHEST
PK Owen Daffer has a pair of career-high scoring contests (10 vs. Tulane & UCF in back-to-back weeks) and has now accounted for a team-best 51 points this season … ECU’s 310 rushing yards vs. Tulane were the most since running for 491 at Memphis on Nov. 3, 2007 … With QB Holton Ahlers’ 40-yard TD toss to WR Jsi Hatfield vs. Houston, ECU has now thrown at least one TD pass in nine-straight games (20 TD strikes overall during the run) … P Luke Larsen (29) ranks as the fourth-oldest player at the FBS level in 2021 (only younger than Vanderbilt TE Tommy Smith/32, Oklahoma State P Tom Hutton/30 and USC P Ben Griffiths/30) … ECU limited Houston to just 87 rushing yards, a season-low (previous was 99 vs. South Carolina in the home opener) … In all, the Pirates have allowed under 100 rush yards seven times in the Mike Houston era (2019-2021) … East Carolina also tallied 13.0 TFLs (-65 yards) vs. UH, matching a Mike Houston-era high (13 at USF in 2020) and most since netting 15.0 vs. ODU in 2018.
East Carolina is 20-28 in non-Saturday games since 2000 … Oddly, the Pirates have fared better on the road (14-14; 6-14 at home) … In terms of days (including bowls), ECU is 5-1 on Sundays, 1-1 on Mondays, 2-1 on Tuesdays, 0-3 on Wednesdays, 7-12 on Thursdays and 5-10 on Fridays … Most recently, ECU is 9-13 when deviating from the normal Saturday routine since 2010 … The Pirates’ most recent Thursday outing was a 27-17 setback to Temple on Oct. 3, 2019 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (which followed a 44-7 East Carolina win at UCF in 2015).