ARTICLE OF THE DAY
Starting to Come On
by Allen Thomas
A week of storms,
cold winds and rain in Greenville gave way to sunny skies
Saturday. The Pirate future football fortunes were on display in
Dowdy-Ficklen and much like the weather, gave a glimpse to a brighter
future ahead. While no one is saying the Pirates are quite ready
to contend for the national title just yet there is evidence under the
new leadership Skip Holtz and staff the light bulb is starting to come
Spring drills are always more like a laboratory. There is much to be
done along a thin offensive front, the shotgun exchange needs
considerable work and Josh Coffman an outstanding tight end is now
learning how to be an offensive tackle. Coaches experiment with
new schemes and players experiment in new positions while dealing
within the confines of depleted rosters (seniors already gone &
freshmen won’t arrive till fall). While the spring game Saturday
was more for the fans it does give a glimpse of things to come.
For example it is clear that a spread attacking offense is again in
ECU’s future. Aundrae Allison at wide receiver (30 yard touchdown
reception & run), a bulkier (189 lbs.) Chris Johnson as well as a
handful of others are game-breakers and will make significant impacts
While there is much to be decided at quarterback, early returns
indicate a healthy Davon Drew has taken quickly to Holtz’s offense and
will be a force to be reckoned with this fall. For the first time
since David Garrard, opposing defenses will have to contend with
game-breaking athleticism at the quarterback position, forcing teams to
play account for the QB and play us “11 on 11.” Patrick Pinkney
in limited action (due to shoulder surgery recovery) substituted for
steady Kort Shankweiler in the second half, was rusty but displayed
great fluidity and leadership under center. It will be intriguing this
fall to watch the competition as well as the “X” factor of James
Pinkney’s potential return.
Defensively the Pirates were aggressive, scoring two touchdowns of over
75 yards on a Zack Baker interception return and 93 yard fumble
scoop-and-score by Travis Williams. Is this something to be
expected on Saturdays this fall? While the defensive touchdowns
may be a little much to ask for each game it is obvious under Defensive
Coordinator Greg Hudson a new attack style, pressure defense will be on
display this fall.
All in all, a great Saturday of football and Pirate fellowship.
The Pigskin Pigout festivities also marked the return of many Pirate
football standouts to the Annual Gridiron Greats Charity Basketball
Game. It’s a great event to raise money for the FUTURE
organization spearheaded by Kevin Monroe and Troy Smith, funding
mentoring and life skills for underprivileged kids. Great to see
the big fellas on the court displaying their skills for the home
fans. While several former Pirate griders showed glimpses of
former hardwood greatness there were an equal number more in need of
oxygen as the game progressed. The Gold squad sponsored by
Aldridge and Southerland came out on top of the White team, a.k.a. “The
Dog Warriors” sponsored by former Strength and Conditioning Director
Jeff Connors who was on hand in support of his former players.
There were a number of greats participating and in the stands, George
Koonce, Mark Washington, Travis Darden, the Hart twins, Scott Harley,
David Garrard, Devon Claybrooks, and dozens of other former Pirate
stars. It was a very impressive link to Pirate football history.
Leonard Henry, a favorite of Pirate Radio 1250 was also on hand and
relayed the good news of his recent signing with the New York
Jets. Best of luck to Leonard as he continues his NFL journey.
So all-in-all, a great weekend for the Pirate Nation. A few
sunburned cheeks and new Pirate football game jerseys courtesy of the
ECU Athletic Spring Clearance Sale made the weekend complete. The
spring football gave a glimmer of things to come this fall, the past
Pirate greats return to Greenville on the basketball court reconnecting
with ECU tradition, and on the diamond the Pirate baseball and softball
teams SWEEP Louisville in a conference “kiss good bye” to the
Cards. Nothing could be finer…. Than East Carolina in
spring. Be sure to keep the Pirate momentum in full swing this
spring. Support the Diamond Bucs Tuesday vs. UNC and Wednesday
vs. NC State at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Have a great week!