Spring Ball – Defensive Breakdown
by Kevin Monroe


Last week I wrote about East Carolina’s offense as spring football came to an end. This week I will take a look at ECU’s defense.  The Pirates showed marked improvement across the board on defense in 2005 and they return several players from that side of the line of scrimmage.  In 2003 and 2004, the inexperience from the players and coaching staff kept the Pirate defense from playing to their full potential.  Coach Holtz brought in a more experienced staff, which changed the mindset an attitude of this once defunct defense.  The most surprising aspect of last year’s defense was the play of the defensive backfield.

The defensive backs will return several athletes that either started or saw plenty of playing time in 2005.  Led by cornerback Kasey Ross, who tied for the team lead in interceptions with 3 and was leader in pass breakups with 8, this should be the secondary’s best group since the 1990s.  Ross, has the perfect combination of size and speed to be a shut down corner in Conference USA this year.  

Returning from a year away from football Jamar Flournoy will be stepping in to replace the graduated Zach Baker at strong safety.  Kyle Chase and Pierre Parker will also return to add significant depth at the safety positions.  Pierre proved last year to have a very keen nose for the football, tallying 3 interceptions and several missed opportunities with dropped interceptions.  Kyle Chase has been a starter or major contributor in each of his previous three seasons at safety and will add valuable experience this year in his senior season.

At linebacker the Pirates lost three senior starters in Chris Moore, Richard Koonce, and Josh Chisholm.  Filling their shoes will be returning backups from last year in Durwin Lamb, Pierre Bell and Jarret Wiggins.  Lamb has great size and ability, Bell possesses the speed and quickness from his days as a high school running back, and Wiggins has a continuous motor.  There will be some help from several new signees at linebacker as well in 2006 including Orlando Farrow, who is a Junior college transfer that should give some immediate help.  

Defensive linemen, like the DB’s, have a solid crew returning led by senior defensive end Shaunte Hunt.  Lining up next to Shaunte will be guys like sophomore Brandon Setzer and junior Marcus Hands.  Hands has the most potential on the line, but a severe shoulder injury cut his 2005 season short and kept him out of spring drills.  Overall this defense should be very good when everyone is healthy.

Pirate fans should be very excited about all three phases of the game this year.  I really didn’t get into special teams, but punter Ryan Dougherty and place kicker Robert Lee are both returning along with return men Travis Williams and Phillip Henry.  All the pieces are in place, but this team doesn’t know yet what it feels like to be winners.  There has not been a winning season at ECU since 2001.  With a tough schedule and big expectations, we will see if the Pirates have what it takes to get back to there first Bowl game in 5 years.

Kevin Monroe