The University of Connecticut football team will look to open conference play with a win this Sunday at noon when they face East Carolina at Rentschler Field.
East Carolina comes in 0-3, having lost to James Madison (an FCS team), Virginia Tech and West Virginia by an average of 34 points. UConn limps into this game 1-1, barely squeaking by Holy Cross (a bad FCS team), and was most recently blown out by Virginia. These two teams rank 121st and 124th in S&P+, respectively. Needless to say, this is not the game of the week.
East Carolina is best-known for their passing attack, which has put up gaudy numbers over the past few years. From 2013 to 2016, East Carolina averaged 326 passing yards per game, reaching as high as third in the nation in that category in 2014.
In 2017 however, East Carolina has only averaged 285 yards per game through the air. That’s still a pretty good number, but it’s down from previous years, and that can’t be totally explained by star receiver Zay Jones leaving for the NFL.
Junior receiver Trevon Brown has picked up much of the slack with two consecutive 100-yard receiving games, and senior Davon Grayson has emerged as a reliable second option, with 171 receiving yards on the year.
If you’re looking for someone to blame for ECU’s uncharacteristically mediocre passing attack, the quarterback position isn’t a bad place to start. Senior Thomas Sirk and junior Gardner Minshew have shared snaps under center in 2016, and neither player has played well so far.
Minshew has completed an awful 41 percent of his passes this year, while Sirk’s 54 percent isn’t much better. The two quarterbacks have combined to throw four picks and only three touchdowns during the year.
East Carolina’s rushing attack has been bottom of the barrel in 2017. The Pirates have a 26 percent rushing success rate (127th in the nation) and have gotten stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage on 27 percent of their rushing attempts (122nd in the nation).
East Carolina’s defense has been similarly poor thus far. Their biggest weakness has been defending the pass, allowing 11.8 yards per passing attempt against FBS teams, ranking 126th in the nation.
East Carolina’s rushing defense hasn’t been quite as bad, however. The Pirates have allowed 4.6 yards per rushing attempt, 90th in the country in that category.
Somebody has to win this game, and looking at East Carolina’s schedule, UConn represents their best chance to steal a victory all season.
Luke Swanson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org