EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
Location: Greenville, NC
Students: 27,816 ( 20,794 undergraduate)
Head Coach: Ruffin McNeill ( 3rd season as head coach, 12-14 record as head coach)
Last Weeks Game: Defeated App State 35-13
Record vs. USC: USC leads the series 11-5, including last years win 56-37 in Charlotte
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The Gamecock's are coming off a hard fought victory in Nashville last week and they are looking to improve all aspects of the offense this weekend at home against ECU. Starting QB Connor Shaw might not play after injuring his shoulder last week, which means the running game will need to step up this week. Last week against Vandy, Lattimore led the way with 110 rushing yards and two touchdowns. A noon kickoff in Columbia will mean warm weather and a smaller crowd. I don't know if this will affect the game but look for the Gamecocks to get off to a slow start against the Pirates.
ECU Offense: East Carolina's offense will be led by junior quarterback Rio Johnson. Last week, Johnson passed for 242 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson's two favorite targets are Justin Jones and Reece Wiggins, who combined for eight receptions and 90 yards last week against App State. As for the running game, the Pirates are led by Michael Dobson, who rushed for 78 yards on 19 carries. The offense hasn't been a problem for the Pirates under McNeill, last year ECU finished in the top half in C-USA in both scoring offense and total offense.
ECU Defense: The Pirate's defense is led by Linebacker Jeremy Grove who recorded nine tackles and two forced fumbles last week. The Pirates are also lead by linebacker Kyle Tudor who recorded 11 tackles last week. The Pirates have had trouble on defense the last couple years. Last year they allowed 32 points per game and 376 yards per game.
What Might Happen: The Gamecock offense couldn't look much worse after the performance in Nashville and if Connor Shaw does not play, it might be another sloppy game. Look for Spurrier to rely on Lattimore to get the job done once again. ECU didn't look great last week against App State, but they got the job done. Hopefully the coaching staff can get Dylan Thompson ready to play, but don't look for a burst in the passing game. The weapons are there, but can Spurrier call the right plays to get them the ball. Being at home should help, and the Pirates defense isn't that good.
I personally think Shaw will play at some point on Saturday, giving the Gamecocks offense a major boost. Weather Shaw plays or not, the Gamecocks will still have to figure out how to get the ball down field in the air. Look for ECU to stack the box in hopes of stopping Lattimore. Lattimore will get his 100 yards rushing and a couple scores, very similar to last week. I think the passing game will be better this week, as ECU's secondary is not as good as Vandy's.
Score Prediction: USC 34 East Carolina 17
Saturday will also be the debut of the new Farmers Market tailgating lots and video/score board. Please let us know what your thoughts are of the upgrades on twitter at @MooseLOHD.