East Carolina Pirates 2015 Football Preview


The East Carolina Pirates gotta build this year. Big changes exist over much of the roster and that includes the offensive coordinator position. Lincoln Riley got pirated away by Oklahoma, and Coach Ruffin McNeill responded by promoting Dave Nichol from receivers coach to keep the system in place. Nichol will have to prove that he is as creative as Riley was, but he has the right background for it.

The other losses include record setting receiver Justin Hardy and quarterback Shane Carden. They will likely prove to be harder to replace in the short term. That may be especially true for Carden, whose supposed replacement Kurt Benkert just suffered a season ending knee injury.

More from East Carolina Pirates

Also important to the Pirates for this season is the loss of six starters on defense. The linebacking corps enjoys such quality as Zeek Bigger and Montese Overton, but the nature of the quick strike ECU offense means that the defense will be on the field a lot.

Coach: Ruffin McNeill – 6th year (38-27)

McNeill has piloted ECU past the five year mark that coaches get as a trial period. That means he is officially a keeper. He has gained his success by bringing the Texas Tech Air Raid model east and unleashing it. His recruiting worked out so that ECU was primed for a big year last year, and now he has to build up the model again. McNeill schedules tough and has beaten both State and North Carolina in his tenure.

More from Old North Banter

Stadium – Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (50,000 capacity)

Last Season – 8-5 (5-3 AAC)

Last season started with great promise as East Carolina defeated ACC neighbors Virginia Tech and North Carolina while stumbling against South Carolina. That included putting seventy on the Tar Heels in Greenville. The conference season proved to be the stumbling block for the high flying Pirates as they faced an upset minded Temple team. ECU also lost at Cincinnati but the great effort was against UCF at home in the last game of the season. That loss sent them down to Birmingham to face the Florida Gators. There the season ended in a loss.

Offense – Air Raid

No Carden and no Hardy and no Benkert either. That means that the quarterback position will come down to transfer Blake Kemp and junior Cody Keith. Behind them lurks Rutgers transfer Philip Nelson if he can grasp the playbook in time.

The winner of that group will get to play behind a line that has a big stalwart. JT Boyd in the interior will be called upon to provide protection for whomever the new quarterback is. If he can stiffen the line around him, then perhaps anyone could play quarterback in this system.

They will not be throwing to Justin Hardy though. The returning hero of the receiving corps seems to be Isaiah Jones, who is on the Biletnikoff Watch List. Given the Air Raid system there will be four other guys that will help out too. These could include senior Bryce Williams or sophomore Marquez Grayson. Also running back Chris Hairston will be called upon to relieve pressure by running and catching balls out in the flats.

Live Feed

South Carolina Basketball: Three thumbs up, three thumbs down vs. East Carolina
South Carolina Basketball: Three thumbs up, three thumbs down vs. East Carolina /

Garnet and Cocky

  • South Carolina Basketball: East Carolina lied, paid Spencer Rattler for a video; Gamecocks still wonGarnet and Cocky
  • South Carolina Basketball: Gamecocks survive physical road test to beat ECU, move to 8-1Garnet and Cocky
  • SMU vs. East Carolina Prediction, Odds, Trends and Key Players for College Football Week 7Betsided
  • College Football Top 25 Picks Against the Spread for Week 1Betsided
  • East Carolina vs. Michigan Prediction, Odds, Trends and Key Players for College Football Week 1Betsided
  • Defense – 3-4

    Last year the interior line was crucial for the Pirates. This year it will still have some experienced faces to jam up the opposing line. However it is the linebackers that gain most of the glory in a 3-4 scheme.

    That is where Bigger and Overton reside. Bigger is the tackler-in-chief while Overton is depended on to pressure the quarterback through blitzes from the outside. If sophomore Jordan Williams and sophomore Joe Allely can provide something of a mirror, then the defense is well set to get its job done.

    The secondary plays two seniors on the corners, which is a nice benefit to have. Doesn’t hurt that one of those guys bears the name Rocco Scarfone. That should provide some intimidation by itself.

    Live Feed

    NCAA: Thanks to a judge from Ohio, the transfer portal just got even crazier
    NCAA: Thanks to a judge from Ohio, the transfer portal just got even crazier /

    Garnet and Cocky

  • NCAA Basketball: Picks for Day 37 of the 2023-2024 SeasonBusting Brackets
  • Georgetown vs Notre Dame: 2023-24 college basketball game preview, TV scheduleBusting Brackets
  • Alabama Football: A Crimson Tide Transfer Portal wish listBama Hammer
  • NCAA Basketball: Picks for Day 37 of the 2023-24 seasonBusting Brackets
  • NCAA Basketball: 12 teams that should target transfer Nae'Qwan TomlinBusting Brackets
  • Schedule:

    It should be noted that ECU is playing in a twelve member AAC this year. That means there are now divisions and a championship game. The teams in the Eastern Division will become rivals over time if some of them are not already.

    9/5 – Towson Tigers
    9/12- AT Florida Gators
    9/19- AT Navy Midshipmen
    9/26- Virginia Tech Hokies
    10/3- AT SMU Mustangs
    10/10- AT BYU Cougars
    10/17- Tulsa Golden Hurricane
    10/22- Temple Owls
    10/30- AT UConn Huskies
    11/7- South Florida Bulls
    11/19- AT UCF Knights
    11/28- Cincinnati Bearcats

    Live Feed

    Nebraska Cornhuskers News: Transfer portal in jeopardy, more
    Nebraska Cornhuskers News: Transfer portal in jeopardy, more /

    Husker Corner

  • Penn State football: Cornerback Johnny Dixon accepts Reese’s Senior Bowl inviteVictory Bell Rings
  • Orlando Magic vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (December 11, 2023): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and PredictionOrlando Magic Daily
  • 3 Orlando Magic players who are expendable, 3 the team can't afford to tradeOrlando Magic Daily
  • Recently re-signed Hornets forward named as trade candidate for contenderSwarm and Sting
  • 4 realistic trade proposals to add size and depth to Cleveland CavaliersKing James Gospel
  • Prediction – 7-5 (6-2 AAC)

    The nonconference schedule for East Carolina is tough and I think the Pirates will pay a little for that. BYU on the road is no fun and neither is a trip to the Swamp. Both Florida and Virginia Tech will have improved from last year while the Pirates will still be missing key pieces.

    On the other hand, I like ECU’s chances to get revenge on Temple and Cincy at home. I do not like playing Navy as a conference opener for a team that has not yet got its defense fully figured out. By the way, Navy is actually in the West Division of the AAC so they will not play the Pirates all that often. This is unfortunate.

    The Pirates will take a small step back this year. However that is so they can do better things in the future. Raise the skull and cross bones and cry ‘No Quarter!’

    Next: AAC Media Picks ECU 7th