Prunty Playing Cards Close to the Vest as ECU Gears Up for AAC Play

Mark Lindsay, Publisher
Pirate Illustrated
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As ECU continues to search for answers defensively, the Pirates prepare to hit the road for their first conference game of the season at Connecticut.

The 1-1 Huskies picked up a 27-20 season opening win over Holy Cross before falling last week by twenty points to 3-1 Virginia.

The Huskies are giving up 29 points a game on average while ECU is yielding just over 51 points a game.

Last week was certainly quite the adventure as the Pirates held as much as a 17-7 lead early before folding offensively and then giving up 57 unanswered points on defense in a 64-17 loss to Virginia Tech at home.

New ECU defensive coordinator Robert Prunty says his secondary played a little loose against Virginia Tech's receivers, but he wouldn't say if his defensive backs would play a little closer to the receivers this week or not when asked what he might do against the Huskies.

"Just continue to play sound football but if I did anything, I wouldn't tell you what I'm playing at UConn where they would know. I'm not answering that."

Needless to say, ECU got lit up like a Roman candle by the Virginia Tech passing offense to the point where even the Hokies receivers expressed surprise that nobody was there to tackle them even after they caught the football.

"In the secondary we should have made some adjustments. We should have gotten tight on coverages," Prunty said, "We played off, we were too loose in coverages and stuff and guys played like they were scared to give up the deep ball. They threw the ball up under us, but in this whole scheme of that though we said we wanted to stop them from running the ball. You see how many yards he had running the ball, but he actually threw the ball. So he beat us throwing the ball."

ECU still has to play BYU out of conference but other than that, it's all AAC games from here on out. That gives the Pirates at least an opportunity to challenge for a conference title.

"I think that UConn got a good football team. They've got a great coach that's been around. They like to run the ball," Prunty said, "I coached with the O-line coach (former ECU assistant) J.B. Grimes last year at Cincinnati. They do a great job up there."

With ECU safety starter Tim Irvin limping around all week after tweaking his left leg last week, that only adds to the defensive issues for ECU. He was listed as the starter this week but if he does, it will be a surprise.

"It's the next man up. That's my mentality. I think these guys are ready though. What I told these guys is let's draw from the first half of the Virginia Tech game and let's build on that," said Prunty.

"We put together the first half of Virginia Tech and the second half against West Virginia. Put them together you can clearly see that it's there. We've just got to keep chopping wood."

Although Prunty hasn't faced a Randy Edsall coached team he knows what to expect.

"He likes those big powerful backs like number 11 (Nate Hopkins), he like to pound the ball. He's a good football coach but actually he's a defensive guy but you know he does a great job and hiring the offensive coordinator from Auburn, so you've got to get rid of all those formations and stuff like that."

Prunty outlined what stands out on film when he looks at Connecticut.

"Just the way they run the offense. It's a timing offense with the motions and throwing the ball out of the backfield and stuff like that," Prunty told PirateIllustrated.com, "It can really get tricky so we've got to be fundamentally sound."

UConn has only scored 45 total points in their first two games for an average of just over three touchdowns a contest.

Bryant Sherriffs has completed 27 of 39 passes overall with just one interception and three touchdowns. Hergy Mayala has eleven catches in two games for 183 yards and three touchdowns including a sixty yarder. Tyraiq Beals is another receiver to keep an eye on with nine catches this season and Keyion Dixon has caught seven passes so far.

On the ground, Nate Hopkins leads the Huskies with thirty carries for 164 net yards and three touchdowns while Sherriffs is also capable of scampering out of the pocket. He has 104 yards on the ground this year but after sacks are factored in he averages 89 yards a game.

It's the AAC opener for the two teams when ECU and UConn tee it up this Sunday for a 12 noon scheduled kickoff on ESPNU.

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