The Tigers will open the season against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent for the ninth time in school history and for the fifth time in the seven-year tenure of coach Rob Ambrose. They are 1-7 all-time against FBS foes with the lone victory being a 33-18 win over Connecticut on Aug. 29, 2013. The Pirates, who are 23-1 against Football Championship Subdivision opponents and have won their last 23 games against FCS foes, went 8-5 last season, losing to Florida in the Birmingham Bowl. East Carolina has won nine of its past 10 home openers. Towson, which set a program record for wins (13) in 2013 and advanced to the FCS national championship game, stumbled to a 4-8 record last season that got off to an ominous start — a 31-27 loss to Central Connecticut at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson.
The Pirates lost their starting quarterback when sophomore Kurt Benkert tore the ACL in his right knee last week. Junior Blake Kemp, a junior college transfer, is expected to lead an offense that graduated wide receiver Justin Hardy, who set the NCAA record for career catches (387). East Carolina will tangle with a Tigers pass defense that surrendered 196.2 yards through the air per game and 18 touchdowns last season. Towson must also figure out how to replace the 18½ sacks lost when defensive ends Ryan Delaire (11) and Drew Cheripko (7½) graduated.
Towson junior running back Darius Victor was one of only six non-seniors nominated in July to the STATS FCS Offensive Player of the Year Watch List after rushing for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014. The Pirates return tackling machine Zeek Bigger, a member of preseason watches for Defensive Player and Linebacker of the Year. The senior inside linebacker led all American Athletic Conference defenders with 140 tackles and ranked ninth nationally in tackles per game last season.