Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs. East Carolina Pirates, Week 1 NCAA Football, Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium Greenville, NC 2 PM EST Sunday September 5, 2010 on ESPN2
by Jason Green, College Football Handicapper of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Tulsa -9/ECU +9
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In one of the few conference games in the opening weekend in college football Tulsa takes on East Carolina in a Conference USA contest.
East Carolina has been a giant killer in the past couple of seasons and while they have won the C-USA the last 2 years and beat Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl last season they are in rebuilding mode after losing 18 starters. ECU is learning a new system and replacing a ton of talent in a rebuilding year and they have a new head coach.
Tulsa went 5-7 last season and was crushed by East Carolina 44-17 at home, but the Golden Hurricane have high expectations this season with a stacked offense and a defense that may be much improved. The expectations can be seen by the line, as with all the Pirates did last season and the sub .500 season the Golden Hurricane had Tulsa is still a 9-point favorite in this game and they are playing at East Carolina.
The Tulsa offense returns 9 starters led by QB G.J. Kinne, who last season had 2732 yards 22 TD and 10 INT. The 2 leading WR’s are back as well in Damaris Johnson and Charles Clay, who combined for 117 receptions and 1661 yards with 8 TD’s last season. RB Jamad Williams has to pick up some yards on the ground to take some pressure off Kinne. Since the Pirates’ D will focus on stopping the passing game Williams may have a big game.
There is a ton of change for the ECU defense that lost 9 starters. They will have a lot of young players and they will offset their lack of experience by blitzing a lot and using their speed. One good thing the Pirates have going for them in this game is that they feature CB Emanuel Davis, who is one of Conference USA’s best pass defenders.
Davis will have to play great defense and the Pirates will have to get to Kinne and not allow him time to find his targets.
The Pirates’ offense will go to a more aerial game and that may take some time since the ECU players were not recruited for that scheme. ECU has an emerging star in WR Dwayne Harris, a good offensive line, and a lot of question marks.
With the new “Air Raid” attack at ECU QB Dominique Davis, who is a first year starter, will have to play well and be on the same page with returning WR’s Dwayne Harris and Darryl Freeney.
Last season the Pirates offensive line ranked 10th nationally and first in the Conference USA in sacks allowed. They return 3 starters and that experience will be valuable in this game, and for the season, since ECU is instilling a new pass-happy offense. They will give Davis solid protection in this game allowing him the chance to find his many targets with all the receivers on the field.
Tulsa’s defense only returns 5 starters, but 2 of their top 3 leading tacklers from last season return in LB DeAundre Brown and S Dexter McCoil, who combined for 187 tackles last season. Tulsa has a young front line D and their pass defense, which was torched for 23 passing TD’s last season, is suspect. The front line will have to get to Davis and pressure him all game.
There are major question marks with each defense and that is the reason the O/U is 60.5. Look for both QB’s to have a big game through the air.
Jason’s Pick to Cover the Spread: ECU is in rebuilding mode and Tulsa is poised to move up the Conference USA ranks, but the Pirates are at home and they have a solid offensive line. Both teams will score in this game, but the Pirates will come out and play at least a little defense and that and their offensive line is the key in this game. ECU is the underdog, but they are in their house and are the 2-time defending C-USA champion and even with all their changes the results will not change, as they will beat Tulsa at home in a minor upset.