2023 ECU Pirates Football Preview


2022 Record: 8-5 overall, 4-4 in AAC
Head Coach: Mike Houston, 5th year, 22-24 

East Carolina Pirates Preview 2023

The East Carolina Pirates are coming off a 7-5 season in 2022, their first winning season since 2019. They will be looking to build on that success in 2023, but they will have to do it with a new starting quarterback. Holton Ahlers graduated after last season, and Mason Garcia will be taking over under center. Garcia has some experience, but he will need to step up and lead the Pirates if they want to make a bowl game.

The Pirates have some talented playmakers on offense, led by wide receiver Jaylen Johnson. Johnson transferred to ECU from Georgia in 2022 and had a breakout season, catching 62 passes for 939 yards and 8 touchdowns. He will be a key target for Garcia in 2023.

The Pirates also have a solid running game, led by Keaton Mitchell. Mitchell rushed for 1,053 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2022. He will be a tough runner to bring down, and he will be a valuable asset in the Pirates' offense.

On defense, the Pirates will be led by linebacker Caleb Smith. Smith had a great season in 2022, recording 105 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. He will be a force to be reckoned with in the Pirates' defensive backfield.

The Pirates will also have to replace some key players on defense, including safety Malik Fleming. Fleming was a two-year starter for the Pirates, and he recorded 8 interceptions in his career. The Pirates will need some new players to step up and fill the void left by Fleming.

Overall, the East Carolina Pirates have a lot of talent returning in 2023. They have a new starting quarterback, but Garcia has some experience and he will be surrounded by some talented playmakers. The Pirates also have a solid defense, led by Caleb Smith. If the Pirates can stay healthy, they have the potential to be a bowl team in 2023.

Key Players

2022 Statistics

  • Overall record: 7-5
  • Offense: 40.5 ppg
  • Defense: 26.8 ppg
  • Rushing: 185.5 ypg
  • Passing: 220.0 ypg


The East Carolina Pirates will win 7-8 games in 2023. They have the talent to be a bowl team, but they will need to stay healthy and avoid any major upsets. If they can do that, they will be a tough team to beat in the AAC.

Sept 2 at Michigan
Sept 9 Marshall
Sept 16 at Appalachian State
Sept 23 Gardner-Webb
Sept 30 at Rice
Oct 12 SMU
Oct 21 Charlotte
Oct 28 at UTSA
Nov 4 Tulane
Nov 11 at Florida Atlantic
Nov 18 at Navy
Nov 25 Tulsa

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