ECU set to host No. 18 South Florida in noon clash
GREENVILLE, N.C. – ECU will attempt to capture its eighth victory in the last nine conference home openers when it welcomes No. 18 USF to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for an American Athletic Conference battle. After knocking off Connecticut 41-38 last week, the Pirates will look to open league play 2-0 for the sixth time in the last nine years when they battle the undefeated Bulls. Additionally, the 2017 squad will try to become only the third ECU team in modern-day school history to finish its September slate with a pair of conference wins (2010, 2012).
USF leads ECU 6-1 all-time in a series, which dates back to 2002 ... The 2003 and 2004 meetings were league contests while both programs were members of Conference USA, while the last three matchups (2014, 2015 & 2016) have served as the Bulls' and Pirates' initial trio of American Athletic Conference encounters ... The Papajohns.com Bowl matchup in Birmingham was ECU's first against then Big East member USF at a neutral site ... The Pirates are 1-2 against the Bulls in Tampa, but winless (0-3) in Greenville.
AN ECU & USF COACHING CONNECTION
ECU and USF each feature Skip Holtz on its all-time head coach roster page ... Holtz was 16-21 (.432) while guiding the Bulls for three seasons (2010-12) after leading the Pirates to a 38-27 (.585) mark, two Conference USA titles and an unprecedented run of four-straight bowl appearances from 2005 to 2009.
INDIVIDUAL NOTES: OT Brandon Smith (27 games) and DE Kiante Anderson/ILB Jordan Williams (9) own the program's longest starting streaks on their respective side of the ball entering the USF contest ... With 426 aerial yards at UConn, QB Thomas Sirk became the seventh ECU signal-caller to pass for 400 or more yards in a game – joining Shane Carden (8 times), Dominique Davis (2), David Garrard, Blake Kemp, Philip Nelson and Patrick Pinkney ... Nelson was the last Pirate to reach 400 air yards (at South Carolina in 2016) .... In his only other ECU start this year, Sirk was 16-of-34 for 191 yards and 1 TD at West Virginia (sat out Virginia Tech tilt for precautionary reasons/concussion) ... WR Davon Grayson, who turned in career bests with 11 receptions for 223 yards and three TDs at UConn, has now caught at least one pass in 29 of 35 career games ... The triple-digit performance vs. the Huskies was a first in his career ... After sitting out the UConn game (illness), WR Jimmy Williams will try to extend his consecutive games with a reception streak to 17 (did not have a catch against USF on Nov. 7, 2015) ... WR Trevon Brown has netted at least one reception in 19 of 21 career games (multiple 16 times) ... Forty-three of his 74 career grabs have gone for 10 or more yards ... ILB Jordan Williams, who led ECU in tackles last year and was included on SI.com's Freak List (nation's top 40 workout warriors in college football), has posted three or more stops in 19 of his last 20 contests ... He matched a career best with 14 stops in the opener vs. JMU before logging 11 at West Virginia, adding 10 vs. Virginia Tech and eight more at UConn last week ... He currently ranks 13th nationally in total tackles per game (43/10.8) ... ILB Cannon Gibbs tallied a career-high 14 tackles (eight solo) at UConn, his first career double-digit game at ECU ... FS Korrin Wiggins racked up a career-high 10 tackles (nine in the first half) vs. VT and added 10 more and his first Pirate interception (had four with Clemson) vs. the Hukies ... He's recorded at least one tackle in 30 of 36 career games (multiple 23 times) ... Ninety-seven of KOS Caleb Pratt's 119 kickoff s have traveled 60 or more yards and he's registered at least one touchback in 20 of 24 career games (six at UConn) ... PK Jake Verity successfully converted all five PATs vs. UConn to remain perfect during his career (16-of-16) ... He also posted a career-long 46-yard fi eld goal vs. the Huskies.
TEAM NOTES: The Pirates' streak of throwing at least one TD pass was snapped at 14 games against James Madison, but with two each vs. WVU and VT, and three at UConn, ECU has now recorded a scoring throw in 66 of their last 73 games ... ECU's offensive line has allowed only four sacks this year (1.0 spg), ranking second in the AAC and 16th nationally ... The Pirates have enjoyed two sack-free performances in their last six outings ... ECU has already recorded three pass plays of 70+ yards, only Baylor (5) and Mississippi State (4) have more nationally ... The Pirates have opened its last two games scoring a TD on their first possession (and both were capped by Davon Grayson scoring receptions) ... ECU has tallied a combined 44 first half points in its last two games, but has been collectively outscored 65-14 in the final 30 minutes against the Hokies and Huskies ...The Pirates recorded their first turnover-free performance of the year at UConn (had two "perfect" contests in 2016, four in 2015).