Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium | Attendance: 45,194 | TV: CBSSN

USF 22, ECU 17 | Inside Game Day | Photo Gallery... | Post-game Audio...

>>>  AAC SCOREBOARD  >>> ..... ..... Friday: Temple 60, SMU 40 (ESPN2) ..... ..... Saturday: Tulsa 45, UCF 30 (ESPNN) ..... Houston 33, Cincinnati 30 (ESPN2) ..... UConn 7, Tulane 3 (ESPNN) ..... Navy 45, Memphis 20 (ESPN2) ..... USF 22, ECU 17 (CBSSN) ..... .....

Inside Game Day
Saturday, November 7, 2015

By Al Myatt

Pirates stuck in offensive slump

Athletic director Jeff Compher presents catcher Travis Watkins and the rest of East Carolina's 2015 AAC baseball champions with their rings during Saturday night's league football game between ECU and USF. (W.A. Myatt's photo gallery...)


Ruff Post-game Audio

ECU coach Ruffin McNeill spoke with reporters after the Pirates' loss to AAC East foe USF (recorded by Al Myatt; file photo): Select audio clip...


Kevin's Keys to the Game

East Carolina comes into tonight's game with South Florida at 4-5 and reeling after back to back losses to Temple and Connecticut. The Pirates are trying to figure out how to work through their offensive struggles ... More from Kevin Monroe...



Ruff puts priority on 'head' coaching

Al MyattBeing a Football Bowl Subdivision head coach can involve supervising game plans, maximizing recruiting, directing staff, responding to media, making appearances and in Ruffin McNeill's approach, being a father figure to over 100 young men. This week the East Carolina head coach also has been just that, a head coach, shaping the mental side for the Pirate players ... More from Al Myatt...



ECU's finances get a boost

East Carolina is changing its stripes. Or more accurately, it’s trading in its swoosh for three stripes. Athletic director Jeff Compher broke the news Wednesday when he announced that the school has agreed to a 10-year exclusive partnership with adidas ... More from Brett Friedlander...



Coach addressing 'Ruff' times

Even though they had very little experience, both James Summers and Blake Kemp seemed to be having fun after being thrust into the experience of playing the quarterback position at East Carolina. Lately that has not been the case ... More from Brian Bailey...

Audio: Ruff Weekly Presser

ECU coach Ruffin McNeill met with reporters on Monday at his weekly press conference (audio courtesy of Pirate Radio 1250; file photo): Select audio clip...

Audio: The Brian Bailey Show

The Brian Bailey Show airs on Pirate Radio 1250 on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. Brian's guest this week was ECU baseball coach Cliff Godwin (right): Replay show...


The good, the bad, and the Huskies



MONDAY INFOGRAPHIC: When losses happen, fingers start pointing. Don't blame East Carolina's Friday night road loss to Connecticut on the white crossbones helmets – the Pirates are 0-3 wearing the alternate helmet. Don't blame it on the day of the week – ECU is 18-23 overall in non-Saturday matchups. The Pirates' 31-13 defeat by the Huskies is hard to figure. ... Details and data from Greg Vacek...


By Al Myatt
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Game Day Photo Gallery...

Audio: Coach Ruff postgame...

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GREENVILLE — East Carolina struggled offensively in a 22-17 loss to South Florida on Saturday night. No first downs in the first half is not representative of the system Lincoln Riley brought to the Pirates from Texas Tech as offensive coordinator under Ruffin McNeill in 2010.

ECU averaged 533 yards of offense per game last season. Riley, quarterback Shane Carden, receiver Justin Hardy and running back Breon Allen are no longer around and that's a lot to overcome.

Still, there was a belief that the program had the ability from recruiting and developing depth through position competition to withstand such personnel losses.

A preseason injury to projected starting quarterback Kurt Benkert began what has been a downward spiral in offensive production.

The low ebb may have been the first half against the Bulls.

Total yardage after 30 minutes favored South Florida, 277-29.

The fans who were booing at the break might have been wondering what happened to the two-quarterback system that the Pirates were extolling a month ago when Blake Kemp and James Summers were both taking snaps.

The decision was made to play Summers exclusively against South Florida. While the offense obviously struggled, Summers stayed in.

"Coach (Dave) Nichol (first-year offensive coordinator) and I felt with this offense you've got to let them see the looks and that's the patient part," McNeill said. "We talked about no hesitation all week long, and that's what we told James: 'Do not hesitate to make mistakes. Let it go. Swing your sword. Fire it. It's not ready, aim, fire. It's fire.'

"We saw glimpses of that in the second half. We've got to get him the reps and he's got to see to get experience."

USF finished with a 442-220 lead in total yardage. ECU managed eight first downs after intermission.

Summers has athleticism but doesn't appear to go through a progression of reads before opting to run often times on pass calls. Breakdowns in protection due to injuries on the offensive front may be a factor. Summers completed 14 of 22 throws for 158 yards against the Bulls. Bryce Williams had six catches for 85 yards. Summers led the rushing with 20 keepers for 42 yards and both ECU touchdowns.

The Pirates appear to be trying to get their personnel to fit a system to a degree rather than adapting the scheme to fit the limitations and abilities of available players.

Buying experience for a quarterback was pretty expensive against USF as ECU slipped to 4-6 overall and 2-4 in the American Athletic Conference. The 17-point total was a high in a three-game losing streak for the Pirates.

No first downs in a half of play is incredible.

"That's not us," McNeill said. "We've been here five years and set all kinds of offensive records. We're used to scoring a lot of points and our defense depends on that. James – everybody be patient with him. He's getting reps under fire.

"I was disappointed. We practiced extremely well this week and I expected us to have a really productive day."

Worth Gregory was the special teams star as he punted nine times for an average of 44.6 yards with a longest of 73 yards.

Middle linebackers Zeek Bigger and Jordan Williams led the Pirates with 12 and 10 tackles, respectively. Defensive lineman Fred Presley forced a fumble that Yiannis Bowden recovered at the USF 7-yard line to set up the first touchdown for the Pirates.

Rain and wet field conditions made for less than ideal playing conditions and limited actual attendance. A crowd of 45,194 was announced for Military Appreciation Day, which included tickets distributed for the occasion.

The defense did its part to keep ECU in the game for most of the way but a breakdown in coverage led to a 67-yard pass from Quinton Flowers to Rodney Adams with 4:40 left for the deciding touchdown.

A personal foul penalty on ECU's Josh Hawkins gave USF (5-4, 3-2) a first down on its final possession and hurt the Pirates' chances of getting the ball back with sufficient time for a drive.

McNeill called the infraction for a late hit out of bounds deep in Bulls territory "inexcusable."

ECU started its last series at its 29 with 51 seconds to go. The game ended with Summers sacked at the 33.

The Pirates must regroup after finally getting a bye week before a visit to Central Florida (0-9, 0-5) on Thursday, Nov. 19. Practice resumes Wednesday, Nov. 11.

"We've got two games left at Central Florida and Cincinnati here (Nov. 28) to become bowl eligible," McNeill said. "That's what our focus is right now."

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11/08/2015 04:28:53 AM