GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina will open its 2020 road schedule and, at the same time, close out a pandemic-shortened non-conference slate by visiting Atlanta for a 12 noon (ET) matchup against Georgia State at Center Parc Stadium on Saturday. The Pirates will try to extend their non-league winning streak to four straight (and post triumphs in six of the last eight) when they battle the Sun Belt Conference member Panthers. On the flipside, ECU will look to snap a six-game road opener skid which dates back to a 33-23 setback at South Carolina in Columbia during the 2014 campaign.
ECU RECORDS AND STREAKS
- Qualified for 10 bowl appearances since 2000 (eight in the last 14 years) …
- Has won three-straight (and five of the last seven) non-conference games …
- Has split its last four (2-2) road games …
- Has accounted for at least 30 points and 500 total yards in its last two road games …
- Has thrown at least one TD pass in 10-straight games (and in 11 of the last 12 contests) …
- Has scored on 20 of 21 redzone visits (13 TDs, 7 FGs) during its last six games …
- Has converted 14 of 15 field goal attempts in its last eight games …
- Has forced at least one turnover in 11 of the last 12 games …
- Has won 38 of the last 42 games when leading at the half …
Saturday’s contest will mark the first meeting (0-0) between Georgia State and East Carolina in the sport of football … In regards to other “major” athletic programs, the Pirates and Panthers’ last matchup was an 89-82 GSU victory at Minges Coliseum in men’s basketball action on Dec. 29, 2013.
MIKE HOUSTON AGAINST THE PANTHERS
Including Mike Houston‘s prior nine-year tenure as a collegiate head coach at Lenoir-Rhyne, The Citadel, James Madison (and East Carolina), Saturday’s game will mark his first-ever meeting against Georgia State.
ELLIOTT AGAINST THE PIRATES (4-1)
While Shawn Elliott has never faced East Carolina as a head coach (until Saturday), he has compiled a 4-1 mark against the Pirates as an assistant during his 23-year full-time coaching career.
HOUSTON AGAINST ELLIOTT (1-0)
In addition to sharing an initiation into the coaching ranks in the western part of North Carolina, East Carolina’s Mike Houston and Georgia State’s Shawn Elliott have also stood on opposite sidelines as head coaches on one previous occasion – a memorable one for the Pirates’ current mentor.
SWEET ATLANTA MEMORIES
Saturday will mark the Pirates’ first visit to Atlanta since defeating NC State 37-34 in the Peach Bowl at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on Jan. 1, 1992, which capped a (FBS) program-best 11-1 campaign under Bill Lewis.
THREE OUT OF FOUR
The Pirates have won three of four (3-1) all-time matchups against current FBS programs from the state of Georgia … East Carolina owns a perfect 3-0 mark against Georgia Southern, but also suffered a 19-15 setback in its only tilt against UGA (Sept. 29, 1990 in Athens) … ECU has never played Georgia Tech on the gridiron.
ANALYZING THE 2020 OVERALL SCHEDULE
East Carolina’s 2020 opponents posted a combined 72-44 (.621) record in 2019 … The Pirates’ only nonconference foe (Georgia State) was 7-6, while the eight AAC squads tallied a collective 65-38 (.631) mark … Four programs had 10 or more wins – Cincinnati (11), Navy (11), Tulane (10) and UCF (10) … Some other notables:
WHO WENT BOWLING … In all, ECU’s current slate features contests against seven teams that advanced to bowl games in 2019 – UCF (Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla), Georgia State (Nova Home Loans Arizona), Navy (AutoZone Liberty), Tulane (Lockheed Martin Armed Forces), Cincinnati (TicketSmarter Birmingham), Temple (Military) and SMU (Cheribundi Boca Raton) … All four of the Pirates’ home games will be against 2019 bowl qualifiers.
IN THE FINAL POLLS … Four of ECU’s 2020 opponents were ranked or received votes in college football’s two major polls (Associated Press/USA Today Amway Coaches) to end the 2019 season – Navy (20/20), Cincinnati (21/21), UCF (24/24) and SMU (RV/RV).
THE AMERICAN – YEAR SEVEN
East Carolina has posted a 78-74 (.513) all-time mark against current members of the American Conference … The Pirates currently sport series records against Memphis (15-8), Cincinnati (13-10), Tulane (11-5), UCF (10-9), Tulsa (8-7), Temple (8-9), Houston (7-7), SMU (4-4), Navy (1-6) and USF (1-9).
ON THE ROAD
Since becoming a conference member in 1997, East Carolina is 57-91 (.385) when playing away from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium … The Pirates snapped a 10-game road losing streak with a 24-21 win at Old Dominion last Sept. 28 before capturing a 31-24 triumph at UConn on Nov. 23 to notch two “away” victories (in the same season) for the first time since 2015 … From a non-conference standpoint, ECU has dropped seven of the last eight … The Pirates last road non-league win outside the state of Virginia was at NC State in 2013.
THE PIRATE NATION – NEARLY 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 8,894,966 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 2,623,680 fans.
SHUTOUT-FREE … 279 AND COUNTING
East Carolina will enter the Georgia State contest with an active streak of 279 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 279-game run currently ranks among the Top 10 nationally (Florida/401 leads all programs).
CHARTING THE PIRATES MONTH-BY-MONTH
In all, East Carolina is 3-3-0 in August, 130-120-1 in September, 162-161-4 in October,140-130-5in November, 9-10-0 in December and 1-4-0 in January … The Pirates will try to regain their October productivity, a month in which ECU has now dropped 13 of its last 15 games dating back to 2015 … On the road, the Pirates will look to snap a seven-game skid – last winning at SMU exactly five years ago on Oct. 3, 2015 (49-23) … In terms of non-conference action, East Carolina will look to post successive wins in the 10th month after downing BYU 33-17 at home during the 2017 campaign.
ROAD CONTESTS O’PLENTY AWAIT
Sandwiched in between the comfort of playing at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for the opener (UCF) and regular season finale vs. SMU are a run of five road contests (in a seven-game span), which include a pair of two-game road trips – at Georgia State & at USF (Oct. 3-10) and at Cincinnati & at Temple (Nov. 13-21) … Not included in those four is a Friday night visit to Tulsa, which follows a home tilt vs. Navy and precedes the matchup against the Bearcats at Nippert Stadium.
MUCH IS BACK … STATISTICALLY SPEAKING
Offensively, the Pirates return 86 percent of their rushing yards (1,452 of 1,556) and an even more impressive 98 percent of their passing yards (3,387 of 3,466) from a year ago … On defense, ECU welcomes back over 59 percent of its tackles (489 of 832) and over 61 percent of its turnover production (11 of 18; 8/11 interceptions and 3/7 fumble recoveries) … From a scoring standpoint, players who accounted for 303 of East Carolina’s 321 points last season are on the 2020 active roster (94 percent).
“TRUE” ROOKIES THROWN INTO THE FIRE
The Pirates utilized 13 true freshmen against UCF last week – six offensive (TE Shane Calhoun, RB Rahjai Harris, WR Taji Hudson, RB Keaton Mitchell, OL Jaquaez Powell, OL Walter Stribling), six defensive (ILB Teylor Jackson, DB David Laney, DL Xavier McIver, DL Elijah Morris, DL Kareem Stinson, DB Sean Tucker) and one special teamer (P Luke Larsen) … Mitchell made the biggest impact on offense with a team-high 66 rushing yards on eight carries, while Jackson logged four stops and was credited with a quarterback pressure on defense … Larsen averaged 41.0 yards on a pair of punts.
Additionally, there were 10 fi rst-time ECU starters in the Pirates’ lineup vs. UCF – three on the offensive side of the ball (TE Jeremy Lewis, RT Bailey Malovic, RG Nishad Strother) and seven on defense (DT Rick D’Abreu, SAF Shawn Dourseau, CB Malik Fleming, DT Hozey Haji-Badri, DE Immanuel Hickman, SAF Warren Saba, OLB Jireh Wilson) … ECU had 15 (10/offense, 5/defense) first-time starters the entire 2019 season.
AMONG TOP PASSING UNITS IN AMERICAN HISTORY
Since joining the AAC in 2014, the Pirates stand second in passing yards over a combined seven year period despite utilizing eight starting quarterbacks, four offensive coordinators and three head coaches: 1. Memphis (23,247), 2. East Carolina (23,134), 3. UCF (20,637), 4. Cincinnati (20,204) and 5. SMU (19,791) … In addition, the Pirates top the league in completions (1,958) and attempts (3,255) … ECU has also accounted for a conference-high 18 400-yard passing games.
1K RECEIVER IN SEVEN OF LAST EIGHT YEARS
East Carolina has featured at least one 1,000-yard receiver in seven of the last eight seasons … Its FBS-best run of seven-straight years came up just 92 yards short as freshman C.J. Johnson closed his rookie campaign with 908 reception yards in 2019 … Pirate 1,000-yard receivers include: 2012 Justin Hardy (1,105), 2013 Hardy (1,284), 2014 Hardy (1,494) and Cam Worthy (1,016), 2015 Zay Jones (1,099), 2016 Jones (1,746), 2017 Trevon Brown (1,069) and 2018 Brown (1,123) … ECU also has the top two receivers in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history by career receptions in Jones (399 from 2013-16) and Hardy (387 from 2011-2014) and have produced a total of 10 1,000-yard pass catchers over the last decade.
East Carolina turned in 73 “big plays” (20+ yards) in 2019 – an average of 6.1 per contest … The top five Pirates’ big play producing units include: 2014 (93), 2019 (73), 2013 (65), 2018 (60) and 2016 (60) … ECU logged 16 rushes and 57 passes that went 20+ yards … East Carolina opened the 2020 campaign with five big gainers against UCF – one rush and four receptions (long of 37 by C.J. Johnson).
THIS & THAT …
- LT D’Ante Smith (26 games) and CB Ja’Quan McMillian (13) own the program’s longest starting streaks on offense and defense entering the Georgia State contest …
- East Carolina had its streak of turnovers forced snapped at 11 games when it failed to produce a takeaway vs. UCF – the run still marked the longest for the Pirates since ’09 …
- East Carolina committed four turnovers vs. UCF – the highest total in the Mike Houston Era (most since 5 at Cincinnati in 2018) – after suffering only 17 overall miscues in 2019 …
- East Carolina is 23-27 (.460) all-time against current SBC members (Appalachian State/12-19, Louisiana/4-7, Ga. Southern/3-0, A-State/2-0, Texas State/1-0, ULM/1-0) …
- QB Holton Ahlers is just one of eight FBS active QBs to have passed for over 5,000 yards and rushed for over 1,000 yards in their career (Sam Ehlinger/Texas, Kellen Mond/Texas A&M, Ian Book/Notre Dame, D’Eric King/Miami, Caylin Newton/Auburn, Zac Thomas/Appalachian State and Desmond Ridder/Cincinnati) …
- RS/IR Tyler Snead came within just five yards (95 vs. UCF) of posting 100+ all-purpose yards in seven-straight games (UCF/107, USF/222, CIN/102, SMU/276, UCONN/166, TLS/132 to close the 2019 campaign) …