East Carolina’s offense exploded with a 52-point effort in Saturday’s season opener. With the Conference-USA opener versus Florida Atlantic on Thursday, the Pirates look to carry the momentum.
Of course, winning the first game of the season is important for any team looking to make a strong start. However, such an impressive showing from the offense so early on gives the team plenty of confidence and momentum moving forward.
“We look to execute and be productive,” said running back Vintavious Cooper. “We have the highest confidence level ever coming into the game. We know that we are definitely an efficient and proficient offense and we can move the ball on just about any defense we want to.”
In 2012, the Pirates got off to a lukewarm start. They posted a 3-3 record through the first half of the season before going 5-1 to wrap it up.
“Our whole focus this whole camp was ‘let’s start the first game and let’s start fast,’” quarterback Shane Carden said. “Last year, for whatever reasons, this offense never got going until about midseason. I thought we came out, we started fast. Obviously, first drive, you can’t do much better than to score a touchdown.”
Carden enjoyed the start and thinks the quick turnaround could be favorable for carrying the momentum from Saturday’s showing. With that said, he has already put ODU behind him.
“It was a good win, but we got to get over it,” said Carden. “We’ve got a quick game Thursday night. You got to start thinking about FAU. It’s usually a 24 hour rule of thinking about the last game. But this game is Thursday night, so it’s more of a 12 hour rule.”
ODU’s defense wasn’t particularly effective in slowing the passing game, but it did manage to hold the Pirates to only 23 rush attempts. Considering the speed of Florida Atlantic’s defense, running the ball on Thursday isn’t going to be any easier than it was on Saturday.
“They’re actually pretty fast,” said Cooper. “They move pretty well. Everybody on defense, they swarm pretty good. I’m definitely looking forward to having to speed up the tempo a little bit and getting used to the speed of Florida players again. Usually when you play a Florida team, they’re a lot faster than a lot other teams.”
Even though the rushing game didn’t have much of an impact on Saturday, no one on the team looks at that aspect of the game as a weakness. Rather, coaches and players believe the offense’s adaptability will be key in maintaining momentum through Thursday’s conference opener and the whole season.
“For this offense, whatever their defense gives us, we’re going to take,” said Carden. “Whether that’s me throwing the ball 50 times a game or me throwing the ball 20 times a game and running the ball 50 times a game, this offense can roll either way.”
Head coach Ruffin McNeill doesn’t necessarily believe the offense need to balance passing and rushing to beat FAU.
“We’ll call plays and make first downs,” said McNeill. “That’s how we do it.”