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College Sports in the Carolinas
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View from the East
Thursday, February 21, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Spring Drills: Solutions, Surprises Emerging

©2002 Bonesville.net

Troth Outpaces Expectations, Says Logan

East Carolina is in its second week of spring football practice and Coach Steve Logan is getting some answers to questions that must be resolved before the 2002 season.

Primary among those questions is who will quarterback the Pirates in the post-David Garrard era.

ECU went into the spring session with rising sophomore Paul Troth, Desmond Robinson and redshirt freshman Sakeen Wright expected to split the repetitions in the quarterback development plan.

“It’s going good,” Logan said on an off day on Wednesday. “We’re doing a lot of scrimmaging. Paul Troth has looked very good. He’s ahead of schedule as far as what I thought I might see.”

Logan said Troth completed 7 of 11 passes in a half-scrimmage on Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

“We ran 60 snaps and the first unit was in there for about 30 of those,” Logan said. “We’re typically running twice for every pass we throw in the spring because we want to emphasize the run. We’re running the ball, seeing if we can tackle.”

Wright, who was behind in terms of comprehending the offense because he spent the fall working on the scout team, will be involved in a live situation for the first time in spring practice today. He had minor knee surgery in the interim between the 2001 season and the start of spring workouts, a “tune-up,” as Logan referred to the surgery.

'Tutu' Switches from Pro Baseball to Tight End

Tight end is another position where an answer may be emerging. Last year, the Pirates resorted to moving Arnie Powell to tight end from flanker. Tutu Moye, who was also known for his baseball abilities at Greenville Rose High, has been moved from outside linebacker. He joined the football program after playing some minor league baseball. Moye was a 21st round draft choice of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1997. He was listed as a sophomore in the 2001 ECU football media guide.

“Tutu has been a pleasant surprise,” Logan said. “We’ve been hunting for a tight end and he has great hands. I’ve known him since he was eight years old. He ought to have good hands, playing shortstop at the Double-A level (in pro baseball). Ben Thomas and Seth Yates are also working at tight end.”

Redshirt freshman Delton Woodard was a possibility at tight end until a knee injury that is thought to be career-ending. He will be given an opportunity to remain on scholarship as a student coach, Logan said.

Moye is listed at six feet and 213 pounds, not overwhelming size in terms of the traditional conception of tight ends. But Logan said Moye’s size is adequate for what he would be asked to do within the ECU offense. Powell was functional last year despite being listed at 214 pounds.

“The tight end really does little blocking in our offense,” Logan said. “Tutu can do what we ask in terms of the zone dive and counter aspect. In the dive, he’s shield blocking which really relates more to moving his feet than having bulk. In the counter, he’s double teaming with the tackle.”

Running backs Art Brown and Marvin Townes have both had moments of brilliance in spring, according to the Pirates coach. Townes missed the start of spring after having some knee cartilage trimmed up through surgery.

The offensive line is projected as a team strength. Brandon Pope and Brian Rimpf are expected to be the starting tackles. Hagen Mason, Charlie Dempsey and Corey Schmidt are in the guard rotation. Doug White returns at center. Phoenix Evans is an experienced utlility guy on the offensive line. Among the redshirt freshmen who could figure into the rotation are Hunter Wood, Joe Parsons and Trey Magee.

“Every blitz is a little bit like a jail break with the redshirt freshmen, but the first five have done well,” Logan said of the offensive front. “We want to get 10 players ready.”

Defensive Strategy Adjustments Still Under Wraps

Defensively, Logan has been pleased with Ronald Pou at nose guard. Damane Duckett and Ja’Waren Blair have been looking good at the tackles. Hosea James, James Myrick and Eric Fouchee, a junior college transfer, look capable of providing depth on the defensive front.

One testimony to the potential of a young group of inside linebackers is that Vonta Leach, who has performed well in two years as Pernell Griffin’s back-up, is getting a look at outside linebacker as well. The young crew at inside linebacker includes Josh Chisolm, Chris Moore, Eric Butler and Jemarcus Veal.

“As a group they are extremely fast,” Logan said.

The group working at outside linebackers includes Kent Nealy, John Williamson, Antwane Yelverton, Christshawn Gilliam and Leach.

There have been some personnel shifts in the secondary, including moving speedy Kelly Hardy from the field corner to free safety.

“Hardy at free safety gives us a little more range,” Logan said. “The kid can just fly and we’re trying to get the fastest guys on the field.”

The Pirates are looking at Donald Whitehead at field corner and Antoine Nealy at free safety. Travis Cox is a young player to watch at corner. The Adams twins, Anthony and Antwan, are still in the mix at the safeties. Travis Heath is working some at strong safety.

Leaner NCAA Practice Agenda Sidelines Spring Game

Logan said the Pirates will return to the Cliff Moore practice facility on Friday. They’ll be back in the stadium for Saturday’s workout.

“You get a better field and better film in the stadium, so why not use it?” Logan said.

The team is working out on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays with workouts scheduled to conclude on Thursday, March 7. Like last year, there will be no public display during spring ball.

“The NCAA has more or less legislated the spring game out as far as we’re concerned,” Logan said. “You only get 15 days of practice and three of those are in helmets only. Four days are in shoulder pads and helmets and that only leaves eight days for scrimmaging. Choosing up sides and playing a game is not the answer as far as implementing schemes.”

The defensive unit is looking at some schematic changes, although Logan didn’t elaborate. He denied that the Pirates are bringing pressure with more corner blitzes as some sources have indicated.

Punter Jarad Preston and kicker Kevin Miller are getting some “full speed” work as the Pirates continue to work on special teams during the spring.

Offensively, the Pirates coaches are simultaneously teaching the offense and trying to see what aspects of the comprehensive package are suited for current personnel.

“We need to find out what these kids can do,” Logan said. “We’re looking at one back, two backs and no backs. You’ll recall that in 1996 we ran a good deal of I formation.”

A year later, in accordance with the dictates of the ability of their personnel, the Pirates became essentially a dropback passing team with Danny Gonzalez at quarterback.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of competition,” Logan said.

And the weather has been cooperative. Sunny, mild conditions are forecast for the remainder of the workouts this week.

“I’ve noticed over the years that there aren’t as many fronts moving through this area in February and March,” Logan said. “It changes in late March and April.”

That’s when many teams have spring practice but the Pirates coach likes early “spring” workouts, even though they are technically in the latter part of winter. It allows for some continuity from the previous season as well as allowing additional time for any injuries to heal before the start of preseason practice.

It also means earlier answers to some important questions.

Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.

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02/23/2007 12:58:04 AM
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