ARTICLE OF THE DAY
 
Party with the Pirates
by Eric Gilmore
3/23/06

College basketball is in full gear, hockey season is winding down and baseball is around the corner. Sounds like a perfect time for some spring football news. As fans are fixated on college baseball, Skip Holtz’s troops are quietly gearing for their first intra-squad scrimmage. The scrimmage, set for Friday evening has a pre-game twist.


The ECU Marketing Dept. is giving Pirate fans the opportunity to “Party with the Pirates.” Tickets range from $10-$20 dollars depending on age. The brand new event provides fans instant access to the men’s and women’s basketball teams, cheerleaders, dance team, football team and coaches.


The event is catered to the Pitt, Bertie, Greene, Hertford, Lenior, Martin and Wayne County Pirate Club Chapters, but non-members can still attend. Registration starts at 5:30 pm while the actual “game day experience” starts at 7 pm. While attendees are registering, fans can shoot hoops with the basketball teams or learn cheers from the dance team or cheerleaders.


Afterwards, the 1,500 fans (limited availability) will listen to speeches from both Terry Holland and Skip Holtz while still in Minges Coliseum. Then, the fans will shuffle into the Murphy Center where Holtz will deliver a (censored) pep talk much similar to what the players’ hear each Saturday.


After getting geared up for “game-time,” fans will file onto Bagwell Field inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium to the tune of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” coupled with a plume cloud of purple smoke. Even though 40,000 people won’t be screaming wildly, the football team will serenade fans with the Fight Song.


Potential recruits don’t even such luxuries. Kudos to the ECU Marketing Dept. and The Pirate Club for putting on such an event. Now if the fans could just get Holtz to bring back the fantasy camp, which was a huge hit two seasons ago.

 

Spring update

           
Here’s a quick update on the five schools that hail from the C-USA’s Eastern Division and how their spring practices have been going.

 

Marshall


Warner Brothers will start filming “We Are…Marshall” on April 3rd. Matthew McConaughey will play the lead role while McG (Charlie’s Angels) will direct the flick.


The Thundering Herd kicked off practice on Wednesday and will continue on Thursday. Quarterbacks Bernie Morris and Jimmy Skinner split time in 2005, but the more athletic Morris will try to distance himself throughout the spring. Junior running back Ahmad Bradshaw is an All-C-USA candidate, but will be slowed by an inexperienced offensive line.

 

Memphis

           
The quarterback carousel continues for Memphis into spring as it did for much of the early fall. Southeast Louisiana transfer Martin Hankins is running with the first unit, while Billy Barefield is manning the second squad. However, Patrick Byrne and Will Hudgens are working into the rotation following broken legs during the first month of 2005. Running back Joseph Doss won’t make Tiger fans forget DeAngelo Williams, but will make them realize that the talent drop isn’t severe. The defense has some spots to fill, namely at linebacker.

 

UAB

           
Head coach Watson Brown will probably look towards redshirt freshman quarterback sensation Joseph Webb to eventually to replace Darrell Hackney. Webb is built similar to Hackney at 6’5” and 275 pounds. But Chris Williams, a consistent senior, is currently leading the first squad. Middle Tennessee transfer Sam Hunt is also vying for the spot. Brown is far from naming a starter and will have to adjust his game plan to more of a ball control tempo.

 

UCF

           
C-USA’s most surprising team in 2005, like Marshall, is getting a late start on spring ball. UFC started on Wednesday, but if last year’s eight wins are any indication, the depth chart already looks frightening. Quarterback Steven Moffett is now a senior as is star wide out Mike Walker. Running back Kevin Smith returns after finishing second for freshmen with 1,178 yards in 2005. What’s even more scary for the Eastern Division is that George O’Leary returns 76 percent of his starters.

 

USM

           
Head coach Jeff Bower is in unfamiliar territory by having to find a new quarterback. Dustin Almond, a consistent three-year starter, creates a void under center. Jeremy Young is the favorite, but Michigan St. transfer Stephen Reaves and Travis Clark are still in the mix. Young is smart and athletic, but needs to improve his consistency. During a recent full length scrimmage, Young went 7-of-11 for 125 yards and a touchdown. Clark, running with the second unit went 8-of-11 for 108 yards and a score while Reaves went 4-of-7 for 51 yards and a scoring strike. The Golden Eagles will practice for the 11th time on Friday and conclude on April 1.

Eric Gilmore
eric@pirateradio1250.com