Houston gets a break from the upper echelon of the league to take on East Carolina. A few keys to a Cougar win:
The King is Here
D'Eriq King waited his turn, and once he got it, he ran with it. King led the Cougars to an upset over 17th ranked South Florida. Houston has run through Kyle Allen, Kyle Postma, and now turns to King. For whatever fall-off Houston experiences in the passing game, their rushing game should benefit. East Carolina might an ideal second act for King. The game also gives Brian Stewart a chance to incorporate more of the playbook for King.
They'll have to beat the Coogs through air
If East Carolina is going to get anywhere on Houston, chances are it'll be via the pass. The Pirates are the worst rushing team in the AAC and one of the worst in college football. In short yardage situations, the Pirates are among the worst teams in the country. According to Bill Connelly's statistical profile, ECU is the worst in the country when it comes to stuff rate, and they average less than two yards a carry on third and short. Their passing game isn't much better. ECU quarterbacks complete just 53% of their pass attempts, well below average.
Defensively the Pirates aren't much better
If the Pirates struggle to complete passes, they are more than hospitable to opponents who try to negotiate yardage through the air. ECU allows opponents to complete 68% of their passes and they rank dead freaking last in defensive pass success rate according to Connelly's numbers. The Pirates give up 45.9 points a game. They're the rusty screen door of the AAC. If you're picking a homecoming opponent, East Carolina is top of the list.
Notes and Numbers:
Saturday is the thirteenth meeting between the Pirates and Cougars. ECU leads the series 7-5.
ECU's quarterback Thomas Sirk, a Duke transfer, completes 56% of his passes with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions.
East Carolina ranks 130th out of 130 in total defense.
Three Pirates are native Texans, Bruce Bivens, Dalton Montgomery, and Alex Turner.
Cougar running back Mulbah Car set career marks in rushes (18) and yards (137) against USF last weekend.
D'Eriq Kings set personal bests in passing attempts, passing yards, rushing attempts, completions, and longest completion against USF.
King was named American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts.