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ECU-BYU: Three takeaways

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ECU players run out onto the field before their game against BYU on Oct. 21, 2017. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, October 22, 2017

East Carolina stopped an ugly three-game losing skid Saturday during homecoming at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium with a 33-17 win over BYU. Here are some takeaways:

1. Pass defense: In a pivotal sequence, BYU hit a 46-yard pass during the third quarter in a broken coverage by ECU that has been familiar in Pirate losses this season. But ECU withstood that and the drive ended with a missed field goal to keep ECU up 16-10. BYU teams are based around size and physicality and its big backs found some running room at times, but the big plays that hurt ECU’s defense were mainly prevented and the different levels of the defense seemed to work well together. After the win, coach Scottie Montgomery referenced the Pirates’ speed advantage and aggressive play in the secondary. Those were big factors in ECU’s best defensive performance this year.

2. BYU is depleted: Maybe the Cougars’ struggles are shedding light on the coaching prowess of Bronco Mendenhall (Virginia is 5-2 this season). BYU has never really had an abundance of speed at the skill positions, but it just didn’t seem to have much in terms of playmakers. The team’s depth chart has also been hit big-time this season with injuries. An ugly season of offense for BYU continued as it is now 1-7 and has been held to less than 20 points in six of those games.

3. Winning feeling: Some logistics definitely were working in East Carolina’s favor — BYU’s travel, a good crowd, to name a few — but the Pirates also played like a team that sensed a vulnerable opponent and put together a complete performance on the field. Especially after halftime. Many people viewed Temple’s visit to Greenville a few weeks ago as a similar situation and ECU faltered, but in another winnable spot, the Pirates delivered. They needed the win and they went and got it. If anything, it was refreshing and it let the players who have had to endure many blowout losses enjoy a victory. That was nice to see.

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