East Carolina Pirates vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Preview


Date & Time: Sept. 20, 3:30 p.m.


I’m sure we all remember where we were when the East Carolina Pirates marched into Chapel Hill and destroyed the hopes and dreams of the North Carolina Tar Heels last year.

The Pirates put up 55 points at their in-state rival, and don’t think for a second that North Carolina has forgotten.

Fast-forward a year later, and now the series heads to Greenville, and the Pirates are coming off a huge road win over Virginia Tech, and look to go 2-0 against the ACC.

A Rivalry Renewed?

The Pirates and Tar Heels have met just 16 times since 1972, with UNC winning 13 of the 16 games in the series. ECU’s last win was last season’s destruction in Chapel Hill. UNC last won 27-6 in 2012, also in Chapel Hill.

It may not be much of a rivalry in terms of history, but both school’s student newspapers have taken jabs at each other in the past couple of days.

Source: The Daily Tar Heel

Source: The East Carolinian

Tar Heels win if…

UNC comes in with a bye week advantage, taking a week off after somewhat disappointing performances against San Diego State and Liberty.

The main key for the Heels will have to be playing better than they have so far this season. Their offense ranks in the 70s as of now, and judging by the caliber of opponents they’eve faced, that’s not good.

What the visitors will have to hope and pray for is that ECU gets careless and starts giving up the ball, and UNC has been good at getting turnovers back and turning them into points. From the looks of things, the Heels’ defense is not going to be able to stop their explosive opponents, but turnovers could change the entire momentum of the game.

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  • Special teams could also play in favor of UNC. Punt returns from Ryan Switzer has proven to change the landscape of a game before, and they very well could again here.

    Also, this is Greenville, and ECU fans are going to be rowdy since they know their team is on the cusp of being nationally noticed. If UNC can somehow take the crowd out early, then they might just have a chance.

    Pirates win if…

    Going off that last point, the Pirates have home field and a huge surge of momentum. You can bet Dowdy-Ficklen is going to be rocking, and ECU’s going to have to put the crowd into it to win.

    One thing the Pirates must do to win is stay in through the entire game. In the loss to South Carolina and last week’s win over Virginia Tech, the team slowed down in the second half and allowed both teams to come back. This offense has the potential to go 60 minutes without stopping, and that’s something they’re going to have to improve on this week and beyond.

    Shane Carden is just going to have to continue being Shane Carden. Last week proved that he has plenty of weapons to throw to that aren’t Justin Hardy and it could prove difficult for the UNC secondary to keep up.

    The defense is still improving, and stepped up in a big way during the win over Tech. If the defensive line can bring it to quarterback Marquise Williams, ECU should have no problem holding their opponents back.

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    If the first few weeks of the season are any indication, this looks like a mismatch.

    Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels seem to want to play from behind, yet look awful in falling behind. If they want to win this week, they cannot play like they have. If they fall behind against the Pirates, I honestly doubt they’ll be able to catch back up.

    ECU is favored by only 3, but that spread will be shattered by the time this one’s done.

    ECU – 38

    UNC – 14