2019 East Carolina Football Season Preview
East Carolina football was just not that good last season. They struggled to find consistency on both sides of the ball, but will 2019 bring the program back to the top of the AAC? With a new coaching staff led by head man Mike Houston, they certainly hopes so.
2018 Record: 3-9 overall, 1-7
Head Coach: Mike Houston, 1st year
The good news? Seven starters return and a new offensive system arrived when Donnie Kirkpatrick came with Mike Houston from James Madison.
The bad news? The offense was not very good last season, scoring less than 20 points in seven games last season–and they lost potential starting quarterback Kingsley Ifedi when he transferred to NC A&T. The quarterback job will come down to Holton Ahlers, who split the starting duties last season with Reid Herring and the duo will battle it out again. Looking at the numbers, Ahlers outplayed Herring and is the more mobile signal caller.
The offensive line might be the strong part of the offense as they return four starters and did a decent job protecting the quarterback, but they lacked any ‘push’ in the running game.
Ahlers mobility was on display a season ago evidenced by leading the Pirates in rushing, and their running backs are mediocre at best. Senior Hussein Howe and junior Darius Pinnix are the two backs who will see playing time in the backfield.
Just like the running backs, the wide receivers are lacking a true ‘it’ player. Top target Trevon Brown is done from the receiving corps, but six of the top eight pass catchers are back, so that’s a positive–I guess.
Part of Mike Houston’s changeover in coaching staff’s was bringing basically his whole crew from James Madison–and that is a good thing for the defense because new coordinator Bob Trott is really good at his job. His units at JMU were elite and the scheme should translate.
Seven starters return, but the defense lost their best players like pass rusher Nate Harvey who had 14.5 sacks last year, and three from the secondary alone.
Bruce Bivens and Aaron Ramseur are veteran linebackers who should be the team’s leading tacklers, but behind them is a concern. The D only picked off five passes last season and was hit for 249 passing yards or more in seven of the last nine games–corner Colby Gore and safety Davondre Robinson are the only two that can make things happen, for now.
Three consecutive 3-9 seasons sparked a change to a program that was considered one of the best non-Power 5 schools, but failing to make a bowl game since 2014 says a lot.
The quarterback job should go to Ahlers, but there are not a lot of weapons at the skill positions. The defense should be better because of Trott’s system, but will it be enough to end the bow drought? Probably not, this rebuild is still a year or two away from making the leap.