Monday, February 20, 2017
West Virginia offense vs. East Carolina defense
Mountaineers QB Pat White may have thrown five touchdown passes against Villanova last week, but East Carolina's best chance at winning this game is to slow down the run and force White to make plays with his arm. So exactly how can the Pirates keep this explosive ground game bottled up? It's going to require discipline, effort and team speed. The good news for Pirates fans is that nine starters return on defense from a year ago, so it's an experienced unit that isn't going to be as affected by all the motion and misdirection West Virginia incorporates in its offense. Just as important, the back seven will be less likely to lose track of big-play RB Noel Devine and/or dangerous SB Jock Sanders because it's locked in on White. In addition, effort shouldn't be a problem with East Carolina coming off an upset win over Virginia Tech and playing at home. So the question now becomes one of speed. Is the Pirates' defense fast enough to consistently swarm White, Devine and Sanders and prevent them from getting into space, where they excel? The answer is no. While the Mountaineers may not put up huge rushing numbers because of East Carolina's experience and effort, their ground game should still be productive enough to keep White out of a lot of obvious passing situations.
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