Regular Season Review: East Carolina

Inside ECU Sports' Josh Graham reviews the Pirates' 8-4 regular season performance and looks to the future.

1. With the regular season over, has East Carolina met or failed expectations?

Very strangely, ECU's regular season was practically all chalk. They won the games they were supposed to win and lost the games they were underdogs (on the road at UCF, USC, UNC) to finish 8-4. The 56-28 loss to Navy could be considered the lone surprising disappointment. There's something to be said about that though. Overall, it was a great season under Ruffin McNeill, his first winning campaign.

2. What one player has made the difference this season?

Shane Carden and Vintavious Cooper. Carden, who started game 3 after beginning season on the bench, is a candidate for C-USA offensive player of the year. Tay Cooper is a junior transfer that rushed for over 1,000 yards in the spread offense.

3. What are the key improvements that need to be made before the bowl game?

The secondary. The unit got beat time and time again over the top for big plays. They graduated 3 starters in 2011 (Jacobs, E. Davis, Blacknall).

4. What has been the dominant headline of the regular season?

The growth of the offense. The trio of Carden, Cooper, and Hardy had been prolific all-season long. Carden and Hardy both being sophomores while Cooper is a junior.

5. If the recruiting class stays in-tact, what are your expectations for next season?

With 23 of the 29 offensive players that offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley rotates in and out, they should be a force to be reckoned with. On defense, the Pirates will return starters in key positions that include Jeremy Grove/Kyle Tudor at linebacker and Damon Magazu at free safety.

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