Not quite the banner day for the offense that I was expecting to see. After doing my research for last week's predictably unfortunate blog posts, I kind of figured ECU's defenders would run around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off while Russell Wilson heroically led State's offense up and down the field drive after drive after drive. The Pirates' secondary played surprisingly well, maybe the best they've played all season. It was frustrating early on as Wilson struggled to find anyone down field.
But Wilson didn't have his best day in terms of decision-making. Does it seem like he's suffering from tunnel vision lately? I remember one instance where he threw deep into double coverage when he had a guy wide open 10-15 yards down field. Selective memory, maybe, but that sort of thing seems to be happening more often.
We misfired on a couple of long passes that looked like they should have been caught. Either one of those could have made a big difference.
Two TDs in seven trips to the red zone.
1st Half: 5.9 yds allowed per play, 1 ECU punt, 2 fumble recoveries
2nd Half: 4.7 yds allowed per play, 4 ECU punts, 2 fumble recoveries
After ECU's initial touchdown flurry, nine of their next ten drives amounted in zero points. State's defensive effort was much improved in the second half, and they forced ECU to go three-and-out four consecutive times between the 4 minute mark of the 3rd quarter and 9 minute mark of the 4th. Had this one played out like several other ECU games, this would have been the part where we pulled away. Unfortunately, State's offense spent this time sputtering.
The D did a fine job of hitting the strip button all day no matter how poorly they were playing down-to-down. The strip and resultant touchback late in the 3rd quarter was enormous: East Carolina had gone 96 yards and would have gone up 10 points with a touchdown.
Just like the Virginia Tech game, we were up a field goal late and couldn't get a stop. A 31-yard pass play had ECU in field goal range three plays after State's go-ahead three-pointer. This is not really a knock, just something I lament. As poorly as we'd played in general, we were one stop from the win.
Josh Czajkowski missed another chip shot field goal. Don't know what's up with that this year. In the past those have been money in the bank.
The punting wasn't a disaster--even Jeff Ruiz averaged better than 40 yards per kick--but we gave up a long return in the 1st quarter that gave ECU the ball at our 19. They were already up 14-0 at this point. So the timing could have been better.
TJ Graham had one of those maddening returns where a guy runs forward 10-15 yards then proceeds to run backward the same distance as he dodges defenders, finally going down inside his own 10. I think James Washington handled all the returns after that one.