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College Sports in the Carolinas

View from the East
Thursday, March 7, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Troth Surveys Field with 'Crandell-Vision'


The green eyes of East Carolina sophomore quarterback Paul Troth see the big picture.

Come August 31, Troth is expected to make his first college start when the Pirates open the 2002 football season at Duke.

One of the first questions Pirate coach Steve Logan asks his quarterbacks in a sideline check is “What are you seeing?” Logan likes the answers he’s been getting from Troth during spring workouts.

“Some quarterbacks have linear vision,” said ECU coach Steve Logan who has a record for developing talented offensive leaders. “They see one receiver and look in a progression to the next receiver. Some guys have what I call spacial vision. They see the big picture without focusing on particular receivers. Marcus Crandell had that kind of vision.

“Marcus would make a throw and I’d ask him how he saw a guy and he’d just say, ‘I saw him.’ From the responses I’m getting from Paul, I think he has the same type of vision.”

Troth came to ECU in January of 2001 after graduating Davidson (N.C.) Vance High a semester early. He will complete his second spring practice as a Pirate today.

“I wanted to come in and show the coaches what I’d learned, playing behind David (Garrard),” Troth said. “That was a great learning experience. It’s been a growth process physically and mentally. Physically, I think it was easier than mentally, because the offense is so complicated. But you just try to settle down and do what the coaches say.”

Physically, Troth, who is 6-foot-5, has gone from 201 pounds to 236 since he arrived at ECU. His strength has increased as a result.

“I think you’ll see a return of the intermediate passing game because Paul has pinpoint accuracy in that range,” Logan said. “But I don’t think we’re going to lose the vertical dimension to the extent we might have thought without David because Paul has gotten so much stronger.”

The Pirates accented short passes and the deep game with Garrard. A veteran offensive line should increase ECU’s versatility next season.

“With virtually everyone coming back on the offensive line, Art Brown and Marvin Townes (returning running backs) should provide enough thrills and chills that the running game should keep any quarterback comfortable,” Logan said.

Troth is essentially a pocket passer with adequate mobility. The last ECU quarterback to match that profile was Dan Gonzalez in 1997, when an inexperienced offensive line struggled with run blocking. That factor led to a 5-6 season, ECU’s only losing record in the last eight years.

“We don’t have any stars out there,” Troth said. “We’re just 11 guys and when we’re all clicking on all cylinders we’re pretty good. Time will tell when we play against another team. Right now I think everybody has jelled really well. With 11 guys doing their job, we should be able to put some points on the board.”

Logan doesn’t plan to use Troth exclusively. He said he will rotate Desmond Robinson in for an occasional series similar to the manner in which Richard Alston spelled Garrard in 1999 and 2000.

Robinson has been characterized as more of an option threat.

“We feel Desmond has the ability to give Paul an opportunity to take a break and refresh his perspective,” Logan said. “Desmond has the ability to drive the team for touchdowns and his presentation will give opposing defensive coordinators another element to prepare for.”

Injuries in the receiving corps have been a limitation in the spring. Rising sophomore Damarcus Fox blew out a knee, as did rising soph corner Travis Cox. That led to the elimination of scrimmages the last week of spring ball. Logan said he doesn’t expect Fox or Cox to return before late September.

“We were scrimmaging almost every day,” Logan said. “We had to do that for our quarterbacks and defense.”

H-Back Marcus White was held out of spring with a shoulder ailment that may require surgery. Alston, who emerged at H-Back last season, has been limited by a pulled groin. Wide receiver Torey Morris has a foot ailment that will also likely result in an operation. Logan said “various ailments” have slowed wide receiver Edwin Rios.

Flanker Terrance Copper has had a good spring. Former Greenville Rose baseball standout Tutu Moye, who played a stint in the minor leagues, has returned home and has emerged as a relatively small but serviceable tight end.

One positive aspect of the injuries to the receivers is that the situation has allowed Wes Herlocker, a punter when he arrived at ECU in 2000, to get a look as a receiver.

“Wes has had a nice spring,” Logan said. “We feel he can help us. We think we’ve found a place for him.”

Troth has seen a revamped ECU defense in spring scrimmages. Pirates defensive coordinator Tim Rose has shifted personnel and adjusted his scheme. Rose, who brought an attacking 3-4 alignment to ECU in 1999, will also use some four-man fronts this season.

“You’re only going to beat Coach Rose once,” Troth said. “Then he’s going to find a way to beat you.”

Ja’Waren Blair, Damane Duckett and Hosea James have collectively had a good spring on the defensive front.

The Pirates can start a fleet of linebackers — including Christshawn Gilliam, John Williamson, Chris Moore and Josh Chisolm — that Logan describes as “wicked fast.”

Vonta Leach, who was considered the successor to Pernell Griffin at inside linebacker, is “cross-training,” Logan said — working to learn outside linebacker responsibilities as well.

Youngsters Richard Koonce and Jemarcus Veal should also figure in the linebacker rotation. Kelly Hardy has moved from corner to safety and Donald Whitehead has been working some at corner.

“The changes are about getting more speed on the field,” Logan said.

The Pirates have also expanded their secondary coverages from three to seven.

“It’s a departure from ‘Do a few things well,’ ” Logan said. “But we’ve really seen an improvement in the learning curve at the end of spring. We’ve got some man coverages, some zones, some traps. It’s something we haven’t done before. It wasn’t looking too good early in the spring, but the last four practices they seem to be jelling.”

ECU was last in average yards allowed in pass defense in Conference USA last season.

“We’ll tie in to what we have to defend and what our players can do,” Rose said.

Kicker Kevin Miller and punter Jarad Preston have been working steadily.

Logan enjoys the teaching aspects of spring and is feeling a sense of relief as the offseason sessions draw to a close.

“I went into spring ball with a lot of anxiety,” Logan said. “Any time you’ve got a quarterback transition, you’re uptight and, obviously, we’re doing a makeover on our defensive model. ... As I sit here, getting ready to go to practice number 14 [Wednesday], I feel really, really good about both of those issues.”

One measure of how good Logan feels would be his response to a fax that arrived in the ECU football office last week. It was a scholarship release from North Carolina for quarterback Darian Durant, who has expressed his intentions to transfer out of the UNC program. ECU offensive coordinator Doug Martin saw Durant play in high school in Florence, SC.

Logan looked at Durant’s release, showed it to some of his staff and discarded it. That might say a lot about Troth’s progress in spring ball.

Hamrick’s Mother Passes Away

Mary Hamrick, the mother of ECU athletic director Mike Hamrick, died Saturday in Houston, TX, where she was undergoing treatment for an extended bout with cancer. Hamrick changed his previous plans to attend ECU’s basketball game in the Conference USA Tournament in Cincinnati to be at the family visitation in Rainelle, WV, on Wednesday. The funeral is today (Thursday).

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02/23/2007 12:58:48 AM

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