GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) - East Carolina has gone from being one of the nation's worst defenses during coach Ruffin McNeill's first year to one of its better run stoppers early in 2013.
After giving up an NCAA-record 572 points in 2010, East Carolina ranks 10th nationally by holding opponents to 82.3 yards rushing per game heading into Saturday's trip to North Carolina.
While it's only a three-game sample for 2013, it's a promising start for defensive coordinator Rick Smith. Smith is in his second stint as an assistant here, returning in January to take over for fired coordinator Brian Mitchell.
East Carolina is allowing opponents to gain 2.7 yards per carry, about half of what they were during that demoralizing 2010 season. That year, the Pirates allowed teams to average 227 yards rushing.