Saturday, August 19, 2006
Since it's been quite a while since I did one of these, here are the links to previous Crackpipe Predictions: Marshall, Eastern Washington, and Maryland.
Arrrrrr! At first glance, this looks to be a team that is still rebuilding. They return 7 starters on offense, and 6 on defense. But they lose 26 lettermen from last years 5-6 team. Last years game in Morgantown started great for the Gold and Blue, but ended up being a lot closer than most of us would like, at 20-15. This year, the game could possibly be at Erickson Stadium in Charlotte, which is an all too short drive for Mountaineer fans. West Virginia has won the last 4 games with East Carolina by a margin of 161-62.
Offense: The Pirates return senior quarterback James Pinkney (222-366, 2773 yds., 14 td-8 int.). They also return their top three rushers and most of the production from the receiver position. The biggest question mark of this offense will be the line. While 4 out of 5 projected starters are 300lbs +, experience could be a factor. They were only able to rush for 3.8 yards per carry in 2005 (1.9 vs. WV). Only 2 starters return from last year.
Defense: The defensive line returns most of the starters from last year. Keep an eye on DE Marcus Hands (6-5, 270). The big question mark will be at linebacker for ECU with only two returning with any starting experience. The DB's should be good to solid with the return of most of their starters from last year.
After Marshall, this is the second team WV will face that is going into their second year with a new coach. Teams under second year coaches almost always perform better than the previous year, simply because they are more accustomed to the schemes being run. While nothing really jumps out at me about this team, they have a good number of quality athletes, and the game is on the road, and they might have some confidence after last years game. WV will have 10 days to prepare for this game before an open date on the schedule, while ECU will have a week to prepare, and also have a week off after this game. Outside of last years game, WV has been able to dominate ECU, and barring any lapse in focus, I expect WV to come away with a comfortable 20-25 point win. However, as I said in a recent interview, this could be a trap game if WV doesn't come to play. This is one of the games that WV needs to go out and prove that they belong in the top 10. They need to jump out early, and not hold anything back (god I sound like Dan Fouts).
Posted by John Radcliff at 7:50 AM