Upon further review, their play stands. On Saturday, the Pirates withstood a 17-point, third-quarter barrage by a winless Southern Methodist team that had averaged three points per game to hold on to a 45-24 victory.
The Mustangs hit East Carolina with a sneak attack, using a quick passing game the Pirates had not seen on film, while going for it on fourth down six times.
On Monday, ECU’s fifth-year head coach Ruffin McNeill said after watching a replay of the game he was pleased with what he saw.
“I thought it was a strong performance by our team and coaches,” McNeill said. “I watched the film (Sunday). After the game I felt the same way, and after watching the film I feel the same way. It was a great win and a great team win.
“I think the poise our team has shown for really the fifth week in a row … was evident. Things went good, we maintained. When things went bad, we maintained.”
The win allowed East Carolina (4-1, 1-0 AAC) to stay in the Top 25, moving up from No. 22 to No. 19.
The new position is welcomed by the ECU players but not spoken about by the coaches.
“It’s not mentioned among our staff, and I mean that,” McNeill said. “At the end of the year we want to play our best football, but it’s not brought up.”
After winning its American Athletic Conference debut, ECU will look to capture its first road conference win Saturday when it faces the South Florida at 7 p.m. (ESPNU).
The Bulls (2-3, 1-0), who were idle Saturday after losing 27-10 at Wisconsin on Sept. 27, beat UConn 17-14 in their AAC opener.
South Florida is led by second-year coach Willie Taggert, who took over for Skip Holtz, the former ECU coach who won Conference USA titles in 2008 and 2009.
Getting offensive: Led by the record-setting senior duo of quarterback Shane Carden and wide receiver Justin Hardy, the Pirates rank fourth in the nation in total offense (581.4 ypg), fourth in pass offense (395.6 ypg), ninth in scoring offense (43.6), 10th in third-down conversions (50 percent) and 48th in rushing (185.8 ypg).
“I don’t know if it’s the best offense (I’ve had), we’ll see in a couple of months when it’s all said and done,” McNeill said. “But, I like the way they’re operating. I think (offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley) and his staff have done a great job of keeping it simple.”
That offense should get a boost by the return of senior receiver Cam Worthy (11 receptions, 302 yards, 1 TD), who finished serving a two-game suspension for violating the school’s code of conduct.