ECU head coach Skip Holtz respects SMU

East Carolina head coach Skip Holtz clearly has respect for the SMU offense. The Pirates (3-2, 2-0) and Mustangs (2-2, 1-0) play in Dallas at 7 p.m. Saturday.

"They're throwing it all over the yard and putting up huge numbers," said Holtz during a Monday conference call, noting that SMU is second in Conference USA in passing offense. "We're going to have to try and get as much speed on the field against our defense as possible. We'll probably do a lot of our passing game against each other, where the defense can see live balls. The ball is going to be up in the air an awful lot this week."

Holtz mentioned quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, running back Shawnbrey McNeal and wide receivers Terrance Wilkerson and Emmanuel Sanders as catalysts in the offense. Sanders in particular has Holtz's attention.

"He's explosive, leads the country in receptions per game and is second in C-USA in yards per game," Holtz said. "He is a real play maker. I've been really impressed with him. He's going to be a handful for our defense this week. It's going to be very hard to simulate him with what they do."

Holtz said the team is working on which nickel and dime packages it wants to run on defense in preparation for the Mustangs.