UCF Knights vs. ECU Pirates
Location: Greenville, N.C.
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Record: UCF- 2-1 (0-1 in conference), ECU- 1-2 (0-0)
UCF: Coming off of a sensational second half against Buffalo, UCF is looking to put together a complete game. Brett Hodges is definitely the answer on offense and now UCF just needs to work out some minor kinks. Defensively, the Knights came alive for the first time this season and proved that they can be dangerous.
ECU: The Pirates are a hard team to figure out right now. They withstood an Appalachian State comeback in week one and fell to BCS foes North Carolina and West Virginia by double-digit margins after hanging with each of them in the first half. Like UCF, the Pirates are physical and talented but have yet to put together a full game.
UCF Offense vs. ECU Defense
UCF: Hodges completed 75 percent of his passes against Buffalo and was perfect in the second half, going 10-of-10. He also displayed surprising quickness on the ground and teams will now have to respect UCF's zone-read attack out of the shotgun. The offensive line took advantage of an undersized Buffalo front seven and had its best performance of the year. The running game is still ready to take off, as Brynn Harvey has been decent but not spectacular thus far.
ECU: The strength of this Pirates' team is up front. C.J. Wilson, a 6'4", 278 lb. end, is regarded as one of the best players in the conference, but he has started slow this season, as he's yet to record a sack. Still, Wilson has been productive as he's tallied 18 tackles. The Knights will certainly have to worry about Wilson, and the rest of ECU's front four, as their starters average 296 pounds. Jeremy Chambliss is an athletic outside linebacker and is second on the team in tackles with 25. Van Eskridge leads the team with 26. The star safety is one of the best at his position in the conference and he's dangerous against the run or the pass.
Key matchup: UCF's line vs. ECU's line- Last week the Knights were looking to take advantage of their size, but this week the Pirates will have that edge. UCF must give Harvey some room to work with and they need to protect Hodges if the Knights are going to take down the defending C-USA champs.
UCF's Defense vs. ECU's Offense
UCF: The Knights finally let loose and just played football against Buffalo. Jarvis Geathers and Derrick Hallman had career games, and UCF's defense in general was terrific in the second half against the Bulls. If the front four can maintain the kind of pressure they showed against Buffalo, the Knights should be able to have another solid defensive performance.
ECU: The Pirates have found ways to score early in games this season but have struggled as the game has gone along. A large part of that is because quarterback Patrick Pinkney, a sixth-year senior, has been inconsistent. So far this year, Pinkney has completed just 49 percent of his passes and has thrown three touchdowns and three interceptions. The team uses a by-committee approach amongst running backs, with Brandon Jackson getting the bulk of the carries with talented running back Dominique Lindsay likely out with a shoulder injury. Dwayne Harris and Jamar Bryant are big options on the outside but neither has been ultra-productive thus far.
Key Matchup: UCF's ends vs. Willie Smith and D.J. Scott- ECU's tackles are both big players who have the ability to develop into solid bookends by the time they are seniors. There's no doubt that Torrell Troup will clog the middle of the field, but players like Bruce Miller and David Williams need to hold their ground and stick to their assignments against these two monsters (6'6", 290 lbs. and 6'6", 323 lbs., respectively). Just as important, Darius Nall and Geathers have to collapse the pocket on Pinkney in passing situations. He can scramble so the ends must keep outside contain while also getting pressure, which isn't an easy task.
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