ECU ready for the bright lights of opening night against App. State

Kick off is Thursday night at 7:30 PM in Charlotte
Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 6:57 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Gameday is Thursday night for East Carolina football. The Pirates open against App. State, in Charlotte, at 7:30 PM.

The Pirates set sail Wednesday for the game and are ready to kick this season off.

“It’s going to be a good match-up. I’m excited about the group that we have. They’ll be ready to play. I expect us to play really well,” says ECU head coach Mike Houston, “NFL stadium, ESPN game, it’s a chance to really find out a lot about ourselves.”

“I mean we were 2 and 0 in NFL stadiums last year,” says ECU running back Keaton Mitchell, “Probably got a little something gotta do with it.”

ECU faces an App. State team coming off a 9-3 season with a bowl win. Former Clemson and Duke quarterback Chase Brice is now QB1 for the Mountaineers and they will pose a tough test for coach Harrell and his defense.

“He probably has a better system overall around him now,” says ECU defensive coordinator Blake Harrell, “Receivers, tailbacks, O-Line, you know just has a better supporting cast than maybe he did at Duke.”

“I love coach Harrell,” says ECU defensive lineman Xavier Smith, “He’s an aggressive play-caller and that fits most of the guys on our defense. We’re all aggressive, run, strike you in the mouth type guys. I’m excited to see what this game is going to bring.”

The offensive side of the ball is a little different.

“Coming in as a family now and we are coming to play as one,” says ECU running back Rahjai Harris, “There’s not too many individuals. There’s not this guy or that guy. It’s the Pirates.”

Rather than react they have a plan they feel will work for every situation going in.

“Most games I probably do a little bit of the old Bill Walsh. I probably script a little lucky number of plays,” says ECU offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick.

The x-factor for success, Holton Ahlers. The quarterback has the spotlight fully on him. He told us he’s fully focused on getting to 1 and 0.

“I’m feeling good. It’s probably the best my body has felt going into a season,” says ECU quarterback Holton Ahlers, “speed-wise, agility-wise. Mind, body, and health with all of it together I’m feeling good. I’m excited.”

The game is being broadcast on ESPNU if you’d like to watch it from home.

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