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Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Editor-to-Editor: Pirates invade the Owls’ burrow

The East Carolina University’s The East Carolinian sports editor Nick Bailey and the University Press sports editor discuss FAU’s return home to host ECU.
Senior+defensive+back+Julius+Wood+%28%234%29+reads+the+quarterback+for+a+interception+against+Charlotte+in+the+Pirates+10-7+loss+on+Oct.+21.
Abby Brennan | The East Carolinian
Senior defensive back Julius Wood (#4) reads the quarterback for a interception against Charlotte in the Pirates 10-7 loss on Oct. 21.

On Wednesday, University Press sports editor sat down with Nick Bailey to discuss FAU’s home matchup against the East Carolina University (ECU) Pirates (1-8, 0-5 AAC). Bailey is the sports editor at The East Carolinian, the student-run newspaper at ECU.

FAU is coming off a devastating 45-42 loss on the road against the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Blazers (3-6, 2-3 AAC). The game ended with a last-minute field goal by UAB to win the game. The Owls were down 35-14 early in the third quarter and scored 28-straight unanswered points to take the lead over the Blazers, 42-35.

The Pirates are on a five-game losing streak. Their last game was at home against No. 20 Tulane University, where the Pirates lost 13-10. 

The last time FAU and ECU played against one another was in Greenville, North Carolina in 2013; FAU lost to ECU 31-13.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

What are some of the ECU’s strengths and weaknesses?

With a 1-8 record it’s hard to find strengths in our team, but I would say our strength has been our defense, at times. More specifically, our run defense is allowing only 3.7 yards per carry, which is top 40 in the nation. Shoutout to D’Anta Johnson, the junior defensive tackle who has been playing very well for us in stopping the run.

Our weakness has just been our overall offense, it honestly has been pretty pathetic to watch. We’ve used a two-quarterback system most of the year, and neither of them has shown to work out. We’re only averaging 14 points a game, which is only 131st in the nation. Very, very low. I think it’s our quarterback system: neither of them have been producing. Along with that, we’re not going for the big plays. We’ve been playing really conservative and running it up the middle almost every time, which does not work…It has improved in the last two weeks, but our weakness is definitely getting the ball downfield, and getting those first downs because we have a lot of three-and-outs for sure.

Who is the biggest threat on offense and defense?

For our offense, I’d say our biggest threat is junior running back Rahjai Harris. He’s carried most of the workload for us this year. He’s scored five of our 15 offensive touchdowns this season. He’s been around here for a while. He’s experienced. So, when we get him going in the open space, he can make plays happen for an offense that seems very dead at times. 

Our biggest threat on defense is senior defensive back Julius Wood. He’s one of our most experienced guys in that backend and on our defense. He leads our team with 68 tackles and has an interception this year that he got in the game against Charlotte. He’s definitely proved to be the most consistent player on the defensive side of the ball.

What does FAU need to do to stop redshirt junior quarterback Alex Flinn and other threats to win?

I think he doesn’t do the best when it comes to pressure in the pocket. So, I think getting to him in the pocket will be a crucial point to stop him. If you can cover the deep passes that he doesn’t do that often, and just force him to throw shortly. 

East Carolina held Tulane to 13 points. What was different in that game compared to the other games the Pirates played?

In that game, I think being at home helped. We had a lot of pass breakups by Wood and senior safety Jeremy Lewis. The past two weeks, especially with the Tulane game, we showed a lot of pressure getting to the quarterback Michael Pratt with guys like [junior defensive lineman] Chad Stephens and D’Anta Johnson, like I said earlier. We forced them to make a lot of punts, which definitely helped us. Something we hadn’t done most of the season. 

Where do you think the game could lie?

I can see FAU getting a lot of points like y’all have shown flashes of. In the second half, it’s usually when our defense pulls up stronger. We’ve only allowed three points to Tulane in the second half of that game. I can see FAU scoring a lot of points but ECU stopping them as the game goes later on. For our offense, I think it just comes down to the play-calling. Our play-calling has been horrendous this season. If we open up the playbook to our dynamic wide receivers on the outside that have been underutilized this season, we can score more points than we have this season.

What do you think the outcome of the game would be?

We are winless on the road. Our offense has played better on the road. But, I see ECU not being able to stop [junior wide receiver] LaJohntay Wester. He’s been phenomenal these past two weeks and as far as [junior quarterback] Daniel Richardson goes as well, from what I’ve seen, he can definitely run the ball…I’d said FAU 31, ECU 17.

Maddox Greenberg is the Sports Editor for the University Press. Email [email protected] or DM via Twitter @MaddoxGreenberg and Instagram @maddoxblade04 for information regarding this or other stories

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About the Contributor
Maddox Greenberg, Sports Editor
Maddox started writing sports for the UP in Summer 2022 with the intention of improving his journalistic writing. He is a sophomore majoring in multimedia journalism and plans on becoming a sports broadcaster. He is a broadcaster for FAU Owl Radio.

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