The ECU defense, which runs a 3-4 base set, will be up against the dynamic Gulf Coast offense of the Bulls on Saturday afternoon. The Pirates are allowing 31.6 PPG (USF averages 45 PPG) and 172.8 yards per game on the ground (USF is averaging 251.4 yards per game). USF pounded them last year for 242 yards on the ground on their way to the victory. Let’s see who will be taking the field for ECU this time around.
Leading the Pirates at linebacker is junior inside linebacker Jordan Williams (6′ 234 lbs.) who has 29 tackles with 3 TFL and 1 PBU on the year. He had 10 tackles with a forced fumble in the game last year. He will be a central figure in slowing Marlon Mack, D’Ernest Johnson, and Quinton Flowers and the USF run game. Mack had over 100 yards against them last year while Flowers had 21 carries for 79 yards. Joining him along the front seven is senior linebacker Dayon Pratt (6’4″ 237 lbs.) who has 21 tackles with 2.5 TFL (1 sack), 3 PBUs, and has forced 3 fumbles on the year. He had 3 tackles in the game last year, but will need to have a better performance, along with the entire front seven, in both getting pressure and stopping the run. On the year, the unit has produced just one sack and 27 total tackles for loss. They had 6 tackles for loss and forced two fumbles in the meeting last year.
In the secondary, ECU is led by senior defensive back Terrell Richardson (6′ 218 lbs.) who has 31 tackles including 3 TFL on the year. He will have to contend with wide receivers like Rodney Adams, which won’t be easy. Adams has 303 receiving yards and three touchdowns on the year and caught four passes for 95 yards and a touchdown in the game last year. He will once again be a go-to option for Flowers who passed for 200 yards and two scores against ECU last year. Another player to watch in the secondary is junior defensive back Travon Simmons (5’10” 187 lbs.) who has 23 tackles with 1 interception, 2 passes defended, and one fumble recovery on the year (he had 4 tackles in the game last year). Overall the ECU secondary has 3 interceptions as a group and will be hard pressed with the USF offense, both with their tempo and ability to mix the run and the pass. Their defensive backs will have to cover the talented USF receivers while stepping up and helping against the run. It could be a tall task for them on Saturday afternoon.
by Matt StatonSoFloBulls.com Columnist | @USFMatt
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