What Will It Take?
by Josh Spence

It’s hard to believe, but less than 40 days remain before the Pirates 2005 football opener.  Anticipation builds as all the finishing touches are applied and a new season is close to beginning.  Despite the fact that official practice hasn’t even started, Pirate football already has a whole different feel this year.  Excitement is in the air, football is the word on everyone’s mind; and why not?  A new coaching staff, a newly realigned Conference USA, a new attitude and heck, they even did a little work on Dowdy-Ficklen.  After a couple of devastating seasons, Greenville is ready for the return of true Pirate football, but one question remains:  What will it take?

I do not envy the job of Skip Holtz and his coaching staff coming in to this season.  The Pirates have a lot of holes to fill.  Under John Thompson the Pirates never quite had enough to get over the hump, winning only 3 games in 2 seasons.  Now Holtz and company are left to pick up the pieces and try and put together a winning football team.  It’s difficult enough to compete at the division 1 level, but the Pirates have extra obstacles. Not only are the Pirates coming off a two-win season in which they were outscored 439-231, but some of the players will be working with their third coaching staff.  In addition, Coach Holtz and his staff will have to deal with the extra complications that come with getting into the flow as a first year staff.

The main question I ask is: Where do we start? ranks statistics nationally, for college sports.  Team by team they rank schools in 14 statistical categories.  Out of 117 division 1-A teams the Pirates show up better than 52nd in only one category, punt returns.  In fact that was one of very few bright spots statistically for East Carolina last year.  At 15.71 yards per, the Pirates ranked 7th in the country, thanks to the shifty Travis Williams.  Again, that was the only category in which the Pirates cracked the top 50.  They were ranked 87th or worse in 10 of those 14 categories.  What do you work on first, when so much went wrong?
Some of the Pirates problems a year ago came from inconsistency.  Injuries and an overall lack of depth caused constant position shifts on offense and defense.  With a lot of young players returning, and several guys coming back from injury, hopefully depth won’t be as big a problem this year.  It’s amazing.  All of these questions, all of these holes to fill, and still nobody can wait until September 3rd.  This is a true credit to Holtz and his staff, who have had an instant calming effect.  The organization and determination shown by the coaching staff have already done a great deal for the confidence of ECU fans.  Come September 3rd, we’ll see how they do on the field.

Josh Spence