Remember the front seven that had ECU ranked in the top five against the run last season? It appears the unit, which has sideline-to-sideline speed unlike ECU has seen in a while, is back at it.
In ECU’s 52-7 blowout victory against NCCU last night the defense bottled up the Eagles across the board – the Eagles only amassed 174 total yards (70 rush, 104 pass) to ECU’s 582 (208 rush, 374 pass). The play of the linebackers stood out the most, each had their fair share of big hits.
After finishing second in total tackles last season, junior linebacker Zeek Bigger picked up where he left off. He led all tacklers in the contest with 11 total, nine of which were solo.
Next weekend will be a completely different story from the first whistle and the Pirates can only hope for a similar dominating defensive performance. Nonetheless, Bigger stays confident and believes the win against NCCU made the team better.
“This win was a good measuring stick and helped us learn about things we can do better,” said Bigger. “We will be ready for South Carolina and we will come out and perform harder than we did tonight. We’ll play each team the same and won’t loaf on anybody.”
Bigger’s confidence must be refreshing for teammates because there’s no doubt the competition level ECU will face takes an exponential leap in difficulty starting next weekend.
The Pirates are getting set for a two-game road slate at No. 9 South Carolina and Virginia Tech., after that’s all said and done the Pirates will come home to host Carolina. It’s safe to say an outing like the front seven had against NCCU will be crucial if the Pirates plan to compete in the coming weeks.
Luckily for fans, Bigger believes this defense has another level it knows it can get to. That “next level” will be needed.
Head coach Ruffin McNeill was pleased with the defense’s performance.
“I thought the defense played great 11-man football,” said McNeill. “I thought they rose up and did a great job of keeping the team element. The best team wins. Defense did their part and didn’t flitch. I was very excited about that.”