Skip Holtz both
cursed and congratulated his team during their final preparation for
Saturday’s annual spring football game. Holtz changed his tone
throughout the final tune-up, but ended on an upswing when asked about
“I’m pleased with a lot of the positives and the ways that some of
these guys have stepped up,” said Holtz. “I could go over every
position and the improvements that have been made. I think this spring
has been extremely productive for us.”
Holtz cited four players that have missed spring practice in Pierre
Bell (LB), Marcus Hands (DE), Aundrae Allison (WR) and Chris Johnson
(RB), but credited younger players with stepping up.
The second-year head coach praised first-team running back Dominique
Lindsay with having an excellent spring along with outside linebacker
Jeremy Chambliss. He also praised the secondary going as far as saying
that he felt the most comfortable the position as any on the field.
Offensive coordinator Steve Shankweiler admitted that the coaching
staff had four goals to reach offensively by the conclusion of the 15
mandated practices: find a backup quarterback, develop a center, shore
up the tight end slot and find a fullback.
“With the goals that we’ve set to accomplish, I think we’re pretty much
in the ball park,” Shankweiler said.
Like last year, Holtz remains uncomfortable with lack of depth along
the offensive line. With only two returning starters, inexperience has
translated to simple mistakes. Holtz seems tentatively pleased with Tom
Wingenbach at center, Josh Coffman at guard and Terence Campbell at
tackle to round out the first unit.
Behind the starters, Holtz said that ten guys are competing for five
spots, but none have distinguished themselves. Hoping for a wish list
of 11 would-be starters, Holtz admitted that the incoming freshmen will
have a solid chance to penetrate the two-deep.
Defensively, coordinator Greg Hudson is pleased with the talent
upgrades and the leadership of senior defensive end Shauntae Hunt.
“I think we’ve taken a step forward this spring,” Hudson said. “We’ve
improved our size and our speed so we’re trying to utilize that to the
best we’ve can. We’ve built some momentum heading into two-a-days.”
News & notes
Allison has seen limited action through the spring and will continue to
be held out of contact drills. The rising senior plans to go through
warm up routines, but will watch from the sideline even though he
claims he’s back to 100 percent following his MCL injury in the season
“I’m listening to the medical guys because they went to school and
everything,” Allison said. “I’m just going to take this time to get
better mentally and physically.”
Remember that Allison made waves a year ago, when he somersaulted into
the end zone.
One of the most nervous players on the field come Saturday might be
backup quarterback Brett Clay, who has never played publicly while in
college. The redshirt freshman beat out classmate Rob Kass and rising
sophomore Patrick Pinkney.
“Coming in here, I was hurt so much through high school that no one
really knew what I felt like I could do,” Clay said. “To show the
people… I’m excited for the opportunity.”
Running back Edwin Burke, somewhat of a spring game legend, is trying
to earn a scholarship. Burke, along with Brandon Fractious, who is
battling a high ankle sprain, will likely split duty on the second-team
The intra-squad scrimmage, which once upon a time went largely
unnoticed, has turned into a weekend extravaganza. The football game is
the centerpiece for the entire weekend, but with so many surrounding
events, it almost seems trivial.
After a Pirate Club social last night, various companies and donors are
hitting the links of Ironwood Country Club for the annual Pigskin
Pig-out Party golf tournament. A night of live beach music will ensue
later in the evening. While the live music is playing, 36 vendors will
compete to make the best bar-b-q plate at $300 per entry.
Also, the Letterwinners Association will hold a social tonight while
the Circle of Excellence will meet for dinner as well.
“Heck, it’s like the state fair has come to Greenville,” Holtz said
about the amusement rides gracing the Frisbee golf field at the
intersection of Charles Blvd. and Greenville Blvd. “This is not only a
game, this is a weekend.”
Philanthropy events galore
Immediately following the conclusion of the scrimmage, former Pirate
defensive back Kevin Monroe will host the 4th annual Pirate Gridiron
Classic basketball game benefiting Future, Inc. The event will be
littered with past ECU athletes.
On Sunday, the entire Greek community (fraternities and sororities)
will host “Casey’s Race for the Kids” held at the Greenville Town
Common. The 5k run/walk is the first unified Greek charity event of its
kind and all proceeds will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Pitt
Co. Registration starts at noon and the race is slated to start at 1
pm. (Click for registration information.
Three years ago, then-ECU head coach John Thompson implemented a steak
dinner served by the spring game’s losing team. Holtz contemplated
having a “beans and weenies and steak type of deal,” but thought better
Instead, the losing team will have to wash the winning team’s cars and
any others that happen to pass by.
“I promise you, everyone on the winning team, their cars will be the
first ones in line,” Holtz said smiling. “We’ll pick a charity and have
a fundraising car wash.”
Holtz said that the staff tried to implement something similar last
year, but a rain storm on the proposed date cancelled plans.