ARTICLE OF THE DAY

Spring (Football) is in the Air
by Brian North
3/1/06

In Oklahoma, there are two sports people care about; football and spring football. Pirate fans don't have that much tunnel vision, they get out and support other sports, especially baseball. But make no mistake about it, ECU is identified as a "football school" and with the start of spring football set for March 2nd, purple and gold fanatics will have pigskin on the brain.

Last year at this time, everyone was curious to see what kind of product Skip Holtz would put on the field. But after a 5-6 season that exceeded most preseason predictions, the 2006 season can't get here soon enough for fans or players. Add to that a schedule that features games against eight schools that went to bowl games last year, and you can see why spring football will get plenty of attention this year.

More pieces are in place for Skip Holtz' second spring season. Quarterback James Pinkney will actually participate in spring drills this year after missing out year because of academics. That will only accelerate his learning curve going into his senior year. In fact all the returning players will have a much better grasp of an offense that averaged 24 points per game. And coaches will be able to start adding newer wrinkles that will make it even more potent.

The same goes for a much improved defensive unit. The Pirates will have to replace linebackers Chris Moore and Richard Koonce, but a full year of recruiting by a well paid coaching staff should start showing some impressive results. Expect an even faster defense that ball hawks and produces even more turnovers that last year (15 interceptions, 5 fumble recoveries).

The 2006 season looms as a big one with a tough schedule, and spring practice will set the tone. Last year there was guarded hope of a new era with a limited roster, this year the Pirates hope to turn it up a notch.  Sometimes teams take a step back after taking two steps forward, but don't expect Skip Holtz and his coaching staff to allow any back pedaling, and that should make this year's spring practice and game a can't miss event.

Brian North
bnorth@wcti12.com