The second half of Paul Troth’s second start at quarterback for East
Carolina left few second thoughts about the future of the Pirates’ passing
game. It’s going to be good.
After going 7 for 18 for 73 yards with three interceptions in the first
half of a 27-22 loss at Wake Forest, Troth regrouped to go 14 of 23 for 200
yards with one pick and two touchdowns in the second half.
That put him at 21 of 41 for the game with four interceptions and two
scores. His numbers compared to his first start in the rain at Duke were
much improved. Troth was 13 for 31 against the Blue Devils for 130 yards
with three interceptions and one touchdown.
The Pirates didn’t have nearly as many dropped passes as in the Duke game
and the ECU passing game in general showed improvement, the absence of
receiver Richard Alston, who didn’t make the trip because of mononucleosis.
Richard Hourigan, a walk-on from Cary, is emerging as a possession
receiver. Hourigan had five catches for 48 yards at Wake, including a
10-yard touchdown catch from Troth.
The turnover/take-away ratio continues to be the difference maker for
ECU. The Pirates have nine turnovers in two games while its opponents have
combined for just one.
“Stop turning the ball over and create turnovers,” said Pirates coach
Steve Logan of the keys for correcting an 0-2 start. “We’re not creating
turnovers. Solve those two issues and we’re going to be something to deal
Generally, Logan was upbeat despite ECU’s fifth straight loss spanning
two seasons. The Pirates haven’t lost that many in succession since the end
of 1993. ECU hasn’t started 0-2 since 1986, when the Pirates were 0-6 before
topping Georgia Southern 35-33.
Still, the Pirates aren’t pessimistic after the narrow loss in
“Our head is way up right now,” Logan said. “They know they’re a good
football team. We’ve had two scrimmages so far (non-conference games) and
we’re going to start conference play next week.”
The Pirates’ performance in 1986, of course, is ancient history and means
nothing as the Pirates prepare this week to host Tulane in their Conference
USA opener. Road losses this season to two ACC teams are also in the past.
Troth’s potential is a much more relevant topic for the immediate future.
“This young man is amazing me,” Logan said as the Purple nation filed out
of Groves Stadium on Saturday night. “In what we’re asking him to do, where
he is now, after these two football games, mentally, is frightening. ...
Opponents better get their licks in while they can, because interceptions
are going to stop.”
ECU’s defense allowed Wake just 163 yards of offense in the second half
and just seven points in the last 27:54 after a blocked punt set the Deacons
up at the ECU 4-yard line.
“We played hard and we played tough,” said Pirates defensive lineman
Damane Duckett. “The thing we need to work on is the turnover ratio. You
can’t win making five turnovers.”
To play close games with the turnover ratio being what it is indicates
the ability of the 2002 team.
“Interceptions are my fault,” Troth said. “I try to force things. I know
the Pirate fans are disappointed in the loss, but I see a new look in their
eyes from last season. They are excited. ... We’ve just got to go out and
win, and it starts with me not making dumb mistakes.
“We have to keep our heads up, and we need to beat Tulane.”
Troth’s second start compares favorably with the second starts of some
other quarterbacks in the Logan era. See chart: