What’s in a number? Everything for this ECU Program.
After two-straight, narrow losses to higher profile and top-25 ranked teams, ECU’s goal to get off the three-win plateau this season comes down to this: a late-season, inauspicious clash between the 115th ranked Pirates and the 123rd ranked AAC bag lady UConn.
While almost no one will even take note of this game nationally – it will be streamed or shown to a minimal audience – or even locally, expected almost no one to fill Pratt and Whitney Stadium, the game will be big…no HUGE…to at least one sub-set of fans, a coaching staff, and a young roster clad in Purple & Gold. In fact, there is an argument to be made that this is the biggest game in the last four seasons for the Pirates.
No doubt the Pirates offense has found something special over the course of the last two games…a crop of young guys and no name linemen all the sudden look like a machine…making plays, moving the chains, responding to opponents’ scores.
Quarterback Holton Ahlers, who looked early on this season to be out of sync, when he wasn’t running for his life, and lumbering on his delivery when he did have time, has put together two-straight near-flawless performances, not only from a fiery leader and competitor perspective, but from a precision passing and decision-making perspective.
If this is who Ahlers is, for real, we have a true rising star on our hands. And, I couldn’t be happier for him, because he appears to be a great kid too.
There is now fuel burning clean in the offensive engine.
Defensively, schematically, if you squint your eyes…you can see a style emerging…but we simply may lack a full cadre of AAC level guys on baord the ship yet. But, they have shown at times this season, to be able to get a stop or two here ore there. A work in progress for sure.
In UConn – a team that the Pirates have beaten the last three times out – the Pirates will never get a better opportunity to officially turn the corner and grab that elusive fourth win. The football program essentially orphaned by the university, hungry to revive their listing men’s hoops program, is about as vanilla as it gets. A pulse may remain, but you gotta listen close and squeeze tight to hear or feel it. They are counting the days to put this miserable season to bed and see what life after the AAC looks like for the program.
For the Pirates, IMO, to capitalize on all that the new staff is building, the young offense is going to have to continue its work this weekend. A win is validation that the momentum gained over the last few weeks is real, something to be relied upon as the program rebuilds and resets expectations going forward. That 4th win would feel like a bowl game to this program at this point in time. The Pirates have to have this.
The defense, too, has an opportunity here to look pretty good. UConn is a big step down from the firepower they faced in back-to-back games with Cincinnati and SMU…so the Pirates have an opportunity to make noise defensively. The Huskies QB, Jack Zergiotis, is ranked 130th in the nation. Of course, we may end up seeing their RS-FR QB Steven Krajewski who had a strong performance against UCF in garbage time, so it could be a tougher outing for the Pirates who have historically been shredded by back-up QBs.
Don’t care if its a 1 point win. It is the W that looms so big out there right now.
Pirates must find a way to get this game this weekend against this opponent, one that hasn’t won a home game against an FBS opponent since October 21, 2017 when they beat Tulsa, 20-14. Yes, 2017.
And, then, we can officially log year one with this staff a step forward.
Love to hear thoughts.
Go Pirates! Beat UConn.