You’ve heard all about the irresistible force and the immovable object.
Well, the opposite of that will be in play Saturday when East Carolina hosts Temple at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
The Pirates come into the game ranked 128th out of 129 FBS teams nationally in scoring defense, allowing 50.6 points per game while the Owls’ offense is nearly as bad while mustering an average of just 16.2 points in their first five games.
Clearly, something has to give.
It’s just not something ECU coach Scottie Montgomery is spending a lot time worrying about right now. With his team having lost four of its first five games, including all three at home, he’s just concentrating on getting the Pirates headed in the right direction.
Regardless of how they do it..
“We are just motivated to get into the conference and get another conference win,” Montgomery said earlier this week. “This conference is changing and you can see the changes all over. There is some transitioning and some staffs, which always changes the way that some of the guys are playing. So we are just really concentrating on getting another conference victory.”
No one in the AAC has changed more than Temple (2-3, 0-2).
The Owls (2-3, 0-2) won 10 games and the league championship last season, but lost coach Matt Rhule before its Military Bowl game against Wake Forest when he took the job at Baylor.
Rhule’s successor Geoff Collins is the former defensive coordinator at Florida, but his biggest changes have been made on offense — where he has installed a pro-style attack with the occasional use of the spread.
It’s a switch the Owls are still in the process of embracing. Their only two wins are against Villanova and UMass and only once, against the winless Minutemen, have they managed to score more than 20 points.
They did, however, score two touchdowns and a field goal in the second half last week against AAC rival Houston to turn a 20-0 deficit into a respectable loss that has Collins optimistic heading into Saturday’s game in Greenville.
“I think we’re a tough team, a physical team and as long as we can get it established at some point, it’s going to crack and things are going to start opening up for us,” Collins said. “I’d like to think that happened for us in the second half Saturday. The challenge for our guys, going on the road against a good team in a tough environment, is to start fast.”
If ever there was a defense tailor-made for a struggling offense to get its act together against, it’s ECU. The Pirates have yet to allow an opponent fewer than 575 yards this season and have allowed 34 or more points in every game — including 50 or more three times and 60 or more twice.
Then again, if ever there was an offense tailor-made to help get a struggling defense healthy, it’s a Temple unit that is averaging less than 300 yards through its first five games.
According to defensive coordinator Robert Prunty, the Pirates might be ready for a breakthrough anyway now that the 4-2-5 scheme they’ve been in for half a season is starting to become second nature.
“Fundamentals, techniques, lining up … I think they’re starting to grasp the system a little bit better,” Prunty said after practice Wednesday. “One of the biggest things is we’re starting to build some endurance.”
That’s being done by working more players into the defensive rotation, to keep starters such as linebacker Jordan Williams and defensive backs Bobby Fulp and Korrin Wiggins from getting worn down as the games wear on.
“We’ve got to get some of these guys a rest,” Prunty said. “Jordan Williams is averaging 71 plays. All the DBs are over 70 plays a game. That stuff starts to wear us down. Lack of experience or not, we’re going to have to get some depth on the field so we can maintain after halftime.”