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U-A-B (0-2) at East Carolina (0-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 24th, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (43,000) -- Greenville, North Carolina. Television: WITN. Home Record: UAB 0-1, East Carolina 0-1. Away Record: UAB 0-1, East Carolina 0-0. Neutral Record: UAB 0-0, East Carolina 0-1. Conference Record: UAB 0-0, East Carolina 0-0. Series Record: East Carolina leads, 6-4.
GAME NOTES: The UAB Blazers sweep into Greenville this weekend for a Conference USA matchup with the East Carolina Pirates, as both teams still search for their first win of the season.
UAB has been crushed the past two weeks, including a 39-0 loss to Florida and last weekend's C-USA opener against Tulane. The Green Wave manhandled the Blazers on both sides of the ball en route to a 49-10 win. UAB will try and avoid going 0-3 against another conference opponent this weekend in East Carolina.
The Pirates should be well rested following a bye last weekend, which came on the heels of a demanding two-game schedule to open the season. East Carolina is 0-2, yes, but considering that those losses have come against too-25 foes South Carolina and Virginia Tech, it leaves many questions still to be answered about how good the Pirates can be this season in C-USA play.
East Carolina leads the series, 6-4, with the last coming in a 54-42 shootout win over the Blazers last November.
UAB hasn't scored an offensive touchdown yet this season. The Blazers are averaging 202.5 yards of total offense per game (143 yards passing, 151 rushing) and UAB is only getting three yards per carry. Bryan Ellis is a veteran quarterback who should be able to get UAB rolling as the season progresses; he is the undoubted leader of the unit, in more ways than one. Ellis has completed 25-of-53 passes for 286 yards and two interceptions, and the leading rushers is Dontav Jackson (six rushes, 33 yards). With its only touchdown coming by way of a kick off return from Nick Adams in the first half against Tulane, UAB needs playmakers on offense to perform if it wants to stay competitive against East Carolina.
The offense has only been to the red zone twice this season, but opponents have converted scores on 12-of-13 trips to the red zone against the UAB defense, nine of which were touchdowns. The Blazers simply didn't show up against Tulane, allowing the Green Waves' quarterback Ryan Griffin to have a career day in leading the offense to 540 yards of total offense. Opponents are averaging 44 points per game, and 526 yards of total offense (281 yards rushing per game). Keep in mind that is only through two games and includes a matchup with Florida. Still, UAB needs more production considering the struggle its offense is currently enduring. The unit has generated no sacks and no takeaways. Free safety Jamie Bender leads UAB with 22 tackles, including 1.5 for loss.
Offensively, East Carolina is led by quarterback Dominique Davis, who has completed 57-of-94 passes, for 387 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. East Carolina has started hot in its two losses this season - outscoring opponents 31-17 in the first half, but have been outscored 56-16 in the second half against the Gamecocks and Hokies. It's evident that East Carolina is a pass-first offense, and Davis can beat defenses with his feet, but his 13 rushes have gone nowhere this season. Running back Reggie Bullock is the leading rusher with 23 carries and 77 yards; the receivers have been much more prominent in the offense. Lance Lewis and Justin Hardy have combined for 30 catches for 237 yards and three touchdowns. East Carolina is averaging 228.5 yards of total offense, and has been plagued by turnovers, with four fumbles lost and two interceptions thrown by Davis.
Both the Gamecocks and Hokies imposed heavy doses of the run against the Pirates, who have allowed an average of 230.5 yards rushing in the two losses, including seven touchdown runs. That composes much of the modest 341.5 total yard average through the two games. East Carolina has excelled in the turnover department, coming away with six takeaways in the two games, and has a couple of tackling machines at linebacker in Daniel Drake and Jeremy Grove, who have combined for 51 tackles in two games. Grove also has one pass breakup and three quarterback hits for a unit that has struggled to get pressure, with just one sack posted so far in 2011.
Both programs will be hungry for their first win of the season. East Carolina has shown flashes of being a quality club in its first two games against top shelf competition, while UAB completely folded in a league game against Tulane last week. For all the problems UAB's offense is having, look for Davis and the Pirate offense to put together four quarters of consistent play and help East Carolina pick up its first win of the year.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: East Carolina 38, UAB 14
09/21 10:44:09 ET