GAME: East Carolina at USC, 12:20 p.m., Saturday
RANKING: Not ranked
SERIES: USC leads 11-5
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LAST YEAR: USC won 56-37 in the season opener in Charlotte, as the Gamecocks overcame a 17-0 deficit behind tailback Marcus Lattimore’s 112 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
COACH: Ruffin McNeill. In two seasons leading his alma mater, McNeill has posted records of 6-7 in 2010 and 5-7 last year. He served as an assistant at Texas Tech for 10 seasons before coming back to ECU.
The Pirates opened their season with a 35-13 win over FCS power Appalachian State, a victory that was jump-started by Lance Ray’s 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the third quarter. Quarterback Rio Johnson passed for 242 yards and two touchdowns while also running for another score. The ECU defense gave up 419 yards to the Mountaineers but held them to one touchdown and two field goals. The Pirates returned seven starters on both offense and defense from last season.
... ECU played in five straight bowl games from 2006 to 2010.
Former Davidson and Virginia basketball coach Terry Holland is beginning his ninth season as East Carolina’s athletics director.
The Pirates won five of eight meetings against the Gamecocks during the 1990s.
ECU has won 32 of the last 37 games when scoring 30 or more points but has lost 11 straight games when scoring fewer than 20 points.
The Pirates line up in a spread offense, and they use a 3-4 defensive scheme.
This is the first game in a three-week road swing for ECU.
The Pirates have over a dozen players on their roster from the Palmetto State. Some of the more prominent players from S.C. include junior defensive end Lee Pegues (Marlboro County HS), sophomore center Taylor Hudson (Mauldin HS), freshman receiver Jabril Solomon (Hemingway HS), freshman offensive tackle Isaac Harris (Dutch Fork HS), senior cornerback Leonard Paulk (Richland Northeast HS), and sophomore linebacker Brandon Williams (Northwestern HS).
PIRATES TO WATCH
LB JEREMY GROVE: The 6-foot-1, 230-pound sophomore earned Conference USA freshman of the year honors last season after compiling 122 tackles, which included 12 against USC. He had nine tackles and forced two fumbles against ASU over the weekend.
WR JUSTIN HARDY: Named to the C-USA all-freshman team last season, when he set ECU rookie records wit 64 receptions and 658 yards, the 6-foot, 185-pound Hardy also pulled in six touchdowns catches. He caught six passes, including one TD grab, against App State in the opener.
OL WILL SIMMONS: He started all 12 games last season at right guard, with his first career start coming against USC. At 6-5 and 341 pounds, he’s one of the team’s most physical and hard-working players.
- Compiled by Neil White