Can the Pirates "Git-r-Done"?
by Josh Spence

It's game week!  East Carolina takes on South Florida in the inaugural Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama this Saturday December 23rd.  It has been a memorable year for ECU fans that have seen the resurrection of a once proud program under the guidance of Skip Holtz. 

It's hard to characterize exactly why this team has been more successful than recent years gone by, because they have done it in a variety of ways.  Sometimes the offense has carried the load. More often than not the defense was up to the task.  Plus it was a special team's play that helped the Pirates secure one of the schools biggest wins in a long time against Southern Miss. 

So to help sort it all out, here's my list Most Valuables for the 2006 season.  The selections were tough as many have contributed in major ways.  Therefore a list of honorable mentions will be included as well.

Offense:  James Pinkney - I think of the three major phases of the game, this was the easiest to select.  James has been a rock for the Pirates this year.  Despite leading an offense full of change at nearly every position, James has had a memorable year.  Pinkney will go down as the second best quarterback statistically in ECU history.  He holds the records for most completions, and most 200 yard passing games.  He's third in touchdown passes, and second in career passing yardage.  He needs only six pass attempts to set a new record in that category. 

Well documented are the career struggles of Pinkney, who has battled through numerous coaching changes, academic problems, and some of the worst years in ECU football history.  Top it off with the fact that this year James has been one of very few constants for the Pirates offense.  From a youthful, patchwork offensive line, to a banged up wide receiver corps, and constant change in the backfield, Pinkney was still able to throw for more than 2,600 yards and 11 touchdowns. 

Honorable mentions: Brandon Fractious, Aundrae Allison, Davon Drew, Phillip Henry, and that makeshift O-line

Defense: Kasey Ross - This was a tough selection but when a play needed to be made, Kasey was there.  Twice this season, Ross sealed ECU victories with interceptions that went back for touchdowns with less than two minutes to play.  He tied for the team lead with four picks and was second with an additional 7 passes broken up.  Ross had 46 total tackles, including 3.5 for lost yardage.  Tackling may have been his most impressive asset.  I can remember a number of times that Kasey was out on an island, and was able to make an open field tackle that prevented a big play.  The fact that Ross was a mere honorable mention, and was not on one of the all conference teams is a travesty. 

Honorable mentions: THE ENTIRE DEFENSE - What a season for these guys.  It's hard to single anyone out because the team effort was the real story.  If you followed closely you saw a number of young players make a difference, especially on the front line.  Early season injuries that initially seemed to be back breakers, turned into a coming of age for a lot of players that look to give ECU some talent on defense for years to come. 

Special Teams:  Ryan Dougherty - Ryan added another great season onto an already impressive resume.  He averaged 44 yards per punt (12th in the nation), dropped 14 inside the 20, and set a new career long of 72 yards.  Dougherty holds the C-USA and ECU record for punting yards with 9,860, and is second on the league list of all time punts with 231 (needs five to set record - lets hope for the Pirates bowl chances that he wont get it!  sorry Ryan)

Honorable mentions:  Chris Johnson, Markeith McQueen, Zach Slate, Van Eskridge

Most telling stat of the year:  ECU is 7-0 when they win the time of possession battle, 0-5 when they don't.  You can read into that what you will, perhaps about how important it was for ECU to have success with the ground game, or how well the defense played to keep the other team's offense off the field, but it is cut and dry. If the Pirates win time of possession, they win the game. 

For the Pirates, a seasons worth of work culminates in a bowl game for the first time in five years.  ECU will take on South Florida this Saturday, December 23rd at 1 and you can count on Pirate Radio 1250 & 930 for your game-day coverage.  We get it started Saturday morning at 8am with a special one-hour bowl edition of A Pirates Life for Me.  Then at 9am, its four hours of in depth pre-game coverage that leads you right up to kickoff, on the Budweiser Pre-Game Tailgate.  We'll have live ESPN radio coverage of the bowl game, and immediately afterwards it's your chance to talk about the game on the Bill Clark Homes 5th Quarter Call-in Show.  Pirate Radio is your home for ECU bowl game coverage!  We'll see if the Pirates can "git-r-done" on more time.

Josh Spence