College Football: East Carolina-West Virginia preview
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. ó West Virginia coach Bill Stewart anticipates another strong showing from East Carolina’s quarterback Patrick Pinkney when the Mountaineers host the Pirates Saturday.
Last year Pinkney finished 22 of 28 for 236 yards with a touchdown and East Carolina held West Virginia without a touchdown for the first time in seven seasons in a 24-3 win that propelled the Pirates into the Top 25.
“I really respect Patrick Pinkney,” Stewart said. “He is tough to get out of rhythm and the game plan goes through him.”
Pinkney was a big reason East Carolina knocked off ranked opponents Virginia Tech and West Virginia last year, completing a combined 41-of-51 passes. He ended the year on a high note, too, throwing for a season-high 296 yards in a Liberty Bowl win over Kentucky.
Then came last week’s head scratcher against Football Bowl Subdivision Appalachian State in which the senior completed just 12-of-27 passes for 131 yards with two interceptions. East Carolina was limited to two points after halftime in the 29-24 win.
Coach Skip Holtz didn’t appear to be overly cautious, other than to say he’s looking for overall improvement from his players.
“At the same time, I really like the attitude and where this team is right now,” he said. “I really feel good about where the players are. They were a little bit down after the game. They realize there are a lot of things we can do better and improve on. That’s where you want your football team to be.”
East Carolina would be in a unique position if it beats West Virginia (1-0). The Pirates have never won in Morgantown and have never beaten the Mountaineers two straight times. West Virginia leads the series 17-3.
There was a time when East Carolina was an annual afterthought to West Virginia’s preparations for Big East play.
Over a three-year stretch earlier this decade, the Mountaineers averaged 458 yards on the ground against East Carolina.