College Football Week 1 Picks: East Carolina Will Make Steve Spurrier Sweat
Dominique Davis and the East Carolina Pirates enter tonight's game with No. 12 South Carolina feeling good about their team. Although they collapsed in 2010, losing five of their last six and finishing 6-7 on the year, they have Dominique Davis back for a second season in their spread offense and feel they can hang with South Carolina.
The Pirates' defense was the worst in FBS last year, and has improved only modestly. Luckily, then, the Gamecocks are making things easier for them by being indecisive and arrogant. Coach Steve Spurrier has promised both of his quarterbacks playing time, like an NFL coach in a preseason game. The problem, of course, is that the NCAA does not have a preseason, and East Carolina is not some Div. 1-AA pushover. The Gamecocks are on upset alert tonight, although it ought to be noted that their explosive offense is of exactly the sort that routinely carved up the Pirates' secondary last season.
Does the loss of Jonathan Williams to the NFL hurt the Pirates? Absolutely. Giavanni Ruffin, however, is a more talented runner than that for which he has been given credit, and he provides a great target for Davis out of the backfield. The Pirates will have no difficulty moving the ball.
The game really comes down to Alshon Jeffery and the Gamecocks exploiting, or not exploiting, the Pirates defense. Jeffery looks like a true receiving superstar in the making, but must prove he can do more than play to the level of the competition. If Stephen Garcia can keep Spurrier from pulling him by playing to his potential, that should not be a problem. But East Carolina enters this game believing they can hold down South Carolina's passing attack. Played on a neutral field in Charlotte, this games will be interesting and should be closer than many have predicted.
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