FACTS & STATS: Site: Legion Field (72,000) -- Birmingham, Alabama. Television: FCS. Home Record: ECU 3-0, UAB 1-2. Away Record: ECU 1-3, UAB 0-3. Neutral Record: ECU 0-0, UAB 0-0. Conference Record: ECU 3-1, UAB 0-2. Series Record: East Carolina leads, 7-4.
GAME NOTES: The UAB Blazers will try to pick up their first league win of the season against Conference USA East Division rival East Carolina at Legion Field.
The Pirates improved to 4-3 last week with a 41-7 rout of Memphis. ECU has alternated wins and losses through its first seven games and has only been successful in one of its four away contests. It has been great in divisional play, defeating 15 of its last 19 East Division rivals.
UAB has yet to pick up a win over an FBS opponent. All of its losses except for Tulsa (49-42) were by double-digit margins. The Blazers were outplayed by Houston on both sides of the ball in 39-17 setback to the Cougars last week. Garrick McGee still seeks his first C-USA win as UAB's head coach after failing in his first two tries.
This will be the 12th meeting between these program. The Pirates have won the last five matchups, including a 28-23 contest in Greenville last year, and hold a 7-4 advantage in the all-time series. UAB is 3-2 against ECU at Legion Field.
The ECU offense is coming off of its best performance of the season, as it scored 41 points and racked up 369 yards of total offense against Memphis. The Pirates now average 351.4 yards and 23.4 points per contest.
Shane Carden took over as the starting quarterback early on the season and has shown steady progression each time out, completing 64.1 percent of his passes (118-of-184) for 1,299 yards, nine touchdowns, and five interceptions. The sophomore quarterback is coming off a career-game in which he tossed five touchdown passes.
Justin Hardy has made Carden's life as a first-year starter much easier by reeling in everything that comes his way. Hardy has more than twice as many yards (617) as any other receiver on ECU and seven of the team's 11 touchdown grabs.
Vintavious Cooper is the go-to-guy out of the backfield for the Pirates. The junior tailback leads the team with 458 yards on 85 carries.
The Pirates have a winning record despite having a defense that allows 0.4 more points than the offense scores (23.8 ppg). The unit has played well in terms of forcing turnovers however, recording five interceptions and nine fumble recoveries.
Damon Magazu (45 tackles), Jeremy Grove (51 tackles, 3.5 TFL, two FF) and Chip Thompson (31 tackles, two INT) anchor the defense. The team has 13 sacks this season, with Gabriel Woullard notching a team-best 2.5.
UAB has not been terrible offensively this season, ranking sixth in the C-USA in both scoring (26.8 ppg) and total offense (395.8 ypg). The Blazers have been more of a passing team, quite often due to necessity when playing from behind. The 1,856 yards through the air by the Blazers is the third most in the conference. The Blazers' 497 yards rushing is better than only winless Tulane.
Austin Brown has taken the starting quarterback job from Johnathan Perry. Brown completed 20 of a career-high 43 attempts for 302 yards in last week's loss at Houston. Brown has completed 60.4 percent of his passes this season for 1,130 yards and five scores. Perry has completed only 56.8 percent of his pass attempts this season.
A pass-heavy offense necessitates some talented receivers, which the Blazers have. Jackie Williams (26 receptions, 424 yards) is the leading pass catcher on the squad though he has yet to find the end zone. Jamarcus Nelson has been the most effective in that area, catching three touchdown passes, while averaging 23.1 yards per reception.
Darrin Reaves has more than twice as many carries and nearly that in yards as any rusher on the team with 74 attempts and 286 yards to go with four rushing touchdowns. However his 3.9 yards per carry and 47.6 yards per game average are well below the numbers of a featured back.
In comparison to the rest of C-USA, UAB has been average at keeping opponents offensive totals down (411.7 ypg) ranking sixth in the conference. However, the Blazers were torched for 566 yards and 39 points last week by the Houston Cougars.
Marvin Burdette has been a jack of all trades for the unit. The senior linebacker is the team leader in tackles (63), tackles for loss (5.5) and is tied for the team lead in sacks (two) and interceptions (one). Burdette also returned his interception 36 yards for a touchdown. Greg Irvin (41 tackles) and Diaheem Watkins (32 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 1.5 sacks) have also been consistent contributors.
ECU's offense is finally clicking while UAB's defense appears to be unraveling. The Pirates showed they can win on the road earlier this year at Southern Miss, they can make a huge stride towards bowl eligibility if they get it done in Birmingham on Saturday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: East Carolina 35, UAB 27
10/17 10:47:41 ET
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