With all of the Big East talk, it was seemingly lost on many folks that ECU has a big, big game to play out in Houston tonight. The Pirates desperately need a signature win this season and taking down the undefeated Cougars would go a long way for righting the listless ship for the good guys.
The last time these two teams met, it was for all the marbles – the 2009 CUSA Title.
The Pirates prevailed in a 38-32 shootout that came down to the last minute of play, iced by a Van Eskridge interception in the end zone. Case Keenum was the Houston quarterback and the Pirates got to him, rattled him, and made the Heisman Trophy Candidate make mistakes.
The Pirate offense, as conservative as it was under Skip Holtz, moved up and down the field pretty easily behind a balanced attack. The defense was stellar in the game and made the difference in the end.
It is likely to be a tougher task this time around as Keenum, a 6th year senior, is simply one of the best quarterbacks in the country but the theme and keys to beating Houston remain the same as they were in 2009. Face it, the Houston offense is one of the best in the country and Keenum deserves all the accolades he is receiving. It again is going to come down to – and this could be a shock to those unfamiliar with the ECU season thus far – the ECU defense. The Pirate defense looks like the better defense taking the field tonight. The Pirates, despite likely having to go without CB Derek Blacknall and linebackers Daniel Drake and Justin Dixon, are more likely to get more stops here and there than are the Cougars. That last statement being contingent on the ECU offense NOT TURNING THE BALL OVER. The Pirates offense has killed itself with 10 – that is right – 10 turnovers in the last two games.
When they are not turning the ball over, they have the ability to trade TDs with the Cougars. The ECU defense definitely holds the key to this game. A few stops, and the Pirates have a great chance to not only move to 2-0 in CUSA, but also grab that marquee win the Pirates tend to do each year.