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Watching Film: East Carolina

USF returns home for a title defense and a very winnable matchup.

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NCAA Football: Central Florida at East Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time once again. A matchup so big that it can only be seen on pay-per-view*. You can feel the buzz beginning to grow. It’s homecoming week, and we all know that the biggest matchups require the biggest stage. And with a matchup this titanic (post iceberg), there is only one stage that fits. This is excitement. This is exhilaration. This is….WORSTLEMANIA 2.

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USF came away winners in Worstlemania I, dropping the leg on UConn in what turned into a “loser leaves town” match. Unfortunately, since that win the Bulls have fallen on hard times. Hard times are when your recruiting ranking has fallen nine out of ten years! Hard times are when a new coaching staff takes over and a pandemic breaks out! Hard times are when you are in a prestigious conference for eight years — eight years! — and they stop playing football and say “Hey, Creighton took your job, daddy!!” That’s hard times.

Dusty the Bull of the Woods

You can’t mention hard times without thinking of another who made his name in Tampa — the American Dream, Dusty Rhodes. And much like the Bulls this weekend, Dusty had a rival with a pirate’s morals who made his home in North Carolina. That rival was none other than the Nature Boy, Ric Flair. And much like Rhodes and Flair main evented Starrccade ’85: The Gathering, we now have USF and ECU main eventing Worstlemania 2: The Homecoming.


Can the Bulls take ECU to the paaaay windah? Let’s go to the tale of the tape to see how these teams match up.

The Numbers

The numbers show that these two teams aren’t too dissimilar. The offenses are exactly the same in terms of yards per play (YPP). USF has a major advantage on defense, where the Bulls are ranked inside the top 20 in YPP nationally.

The Pirates are a little better on third down, while USF is better at both creating and stopping explosive plays. The Bulls also have a big advantage in the turnover margin. Even after last weeks pick fest, USF still has a positive turnover margin for the season. ECU, on the other hand, has turned the ball over at an alarming rate. The Pirates have seven turnovers through two games. If USF’s defense plays like it did against Cincinnati, I see that number growing for the Pirates.

ECU Offense- Flair for the Meh

The ECU offense has struggled mightily in their first two games. The Pirates are 64th in the country in yards per play and 46th nationally in scoring offense with 28.5 points per game. However, if you remove the two special team touchdowns that they scored late against Georgia State, that points per game number drops to 21.5 which would rank 57th.

The struggles are somewhat surprising. The Pirates ranked eighth nationally in returning production on offense. Their eight returning starters included 12 starts at quarterback and 37 starts on the offensive line. Returning starting quarterback Holton Ahlers has already thrown four interceptions, and ECU is 66th in yards per pass attempt. Let’s take a look at what schemes the Pirates will run as they look to get their offense going.

The USF defense should be able to bother and harass the ECU offense. The mixture of talent and scheme will provide the easiest matchup that the Bulls defense have had this season.

ECU Defense- Flair Flop

Artist’s Rendering of 2020 ECU Defense

The East Carolina defense is quite poor. They are dead last in scoring defense in the country, allowing 50 points a game this year. They are second to last in yards per play. They try to play aggressively to mask some personnel deficiencies. However, if their pressure doesn’t get home, there are massive gaps to exploit. Let’s take a look at this ECU defense.

This defense is really poor. They have been run off the field by both of their opponents. This is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Bulls. If USF isn’t able to break out on offense this week, it may not happen at all this season.

ECU is woooooo woooo woooooooo-ne and nine against USF all-time. They desperately want to get win number two this weekend. They are also looking for their first win this season. The Bulls will be looking to hit ECU with the Bionic Elbow (Bionic Hoof?), while the Pirates are hoping they can lock on their patented figure four and eight. This is the Bulls best chance to win in a while. If they don’t get a W here, it’s going to be a long season.

This is USF’s homecoming. Don’t miss it by watching something stupid like Miami at Clemson. This is the game of games. This is the showcase of the quite mortals. This is WORSTLEMANIA TWO.