Saturday night's Great American Conference showdown in Searcy, Ark., will feature a marquee match-up between an East Central defense that ranks near the top of Division II in stopping the run and a Harding option attack that leads the nation in rushing. But the key to the game could be the success of ECU's rejuvenated offense against a Harding defense that is pretty good in its own right.
"We not only need to score points — we need to move the ball," ECU coach Tim McCarty said Wednesday. "You have to give your defense a rest, because (Harding) is going to move the ball.
"Their ball security is very good, and they're very physical on offense," he said of the Bisons, who had won three straight road games to start the season while outscoring the opposition, 125-30. "On defense, they tackle well. We're going to have to be at our best and execute at a high level."
Following three straight ineffective weeks, the Tiger offense finally showed signs of life Saturday under redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Bond, who made his first collegiate start in a 31-17 home win over GAC rival Arkansas-Monticello. The game marked a big step forward for an ECU attack that ranked near the bottom of the conference in most categories through three games, but McCarty said Bond and Co. will face a much tougher test this week.
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