In last week's column we examined how
spring football practice was going for the first six teams East
Carolina will face on its 2007 schedule.
Let's briefly revisit those first six
programs for subsequent developments and take a look at the last six
teams on the Pirates schedule in a little more depth:
At Virginia Tech (Sept.1)
Following the campus rampage on
Monday which left 32 victims dead as well as the gunman from a
self-inflicted shot, the Hokies canceled the remainder of their
spring football workouts.
Virginia Tech utilized 12 of its 15
practices allowed under NCAA guidelines, scratching two workouts and
the spring game which was to have been this Saturday.
North Carolina (Sept. 8)
The Tar Heels played their spring
game on Saturday with redshirt freshman quarterback T.J. Yates
completing 10 of 15 passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns before
a crowd of about 10,000.
Yates tossed a 65-yard swing pass
to Hakeem Nicks for the first score and added touchdowns of nine
yards to former quarterback Joe Dailey and 32 yards to Richie Rich.
Southern Miss (Sept. 15)
Mother Nature kept Southern Miss
from playing its spring game this past Saturday as Golden Eagles
coach Jeff Bower called off the final scrimmage in favor of a
practice session on Monday because of high winds and rain in
Most improved players of spring
practice were wide receiver Ralph Turner and defensive back Michael
McGee, according to presentations from Bower.
At West Virginia (Sept. 22)
Gold (offense) defeated Blue
(defense) 58-30 in the Mountaineers' spring game on April 7. Gold
got one point for a first down, six points for a touchdown and one
point for a conversion. Blue got two points for a stop, three points
for a three downs and out, and three points for a turnover.
Gold had 525 yards of total
offense, including 380 yards passing. Pat White was 6 of 14 for 69
yards. Jarrett Brown completed 14 of 17 passes for 146 yards. Adam
Bednarik, coming off shoulder rehab, completed 8 of 13 for 118 yards
and a touchdown.
At Houston (Sept. 29)
Houston played its spring game on
April 7. The Cougars' depth chart listed both sophomore Blake Joseph
and redshirt freshman Case Keenum as first team.
Central Florida (Oct. 6)
Defense was dominant in the spring
game last Saturday. The unit forced four turnovers, collected three
sacks and allowed only 80 yards of rushing.
Senior linebacker Blake Carter and
sophomore cornerback Emery Allen each had seven tackles. Carter also
had one of two interceptions. Freshman Darin Baldwin had the other.
Now, let's take a look at the last
six opponents on ECU's 2007 schedule:
At Texas-El Paso (Oct. 13)
ECU wasn't the only team accenting
its tight ends this spring. In its most recent scrimmage, UTEP tight
ends Jonny Moore and Jake Sears combined for nine catches for 101
yards as each scored a touchdown.
UTEP's dueling quarterbacks, James
Thomas and Trevor Vittatoe, had comparable numbers with Thomas
completing 7 of 8 for 75 yards with two TDs while Vittatoe connected
on 11 of 14 for 92 yards.
Coach Mike Price believes strongly
in airing it out on offense as his club ranked fifth nationally in
passing last season and 116th (out of 119 teams) in rushing.
Still, tailbacks Terrell Jackson
and Marcus Thomas combined to run for 119 yards on 27 carries last
Saturday. But maybe that's because nine starters are gone on
Wide receiver/returner Johnnie Lee
Higgins was a big time talent who won't be easily replaced. The
quarterback competition is for the sport left vacant by Jordan
UTEP's philosophy will be to
outscore its opponents, including ECU which makes its longest trip
ever for a conference game. The Miners defense allowed 31 points per
game last season and may not be as good this season.
The Miners play their spring game
on Friday night at the Sun Bowl.
N.C. State (Oct. 20)
ECU's second ACC opponent of the
2007 season will lack the coaching continuity of Virginia Tech. Tom
O'Brien is the new man in charge in Raleigh and said the Wolfpack
was a work in progress during the spring.
O'Brien continually addressed
execution during the course of the offseason workouts but there were
seven turnovers in the spring game last Saturday.
But based on the product O'Brien
put on the field at Boston College, there is reason to believe that
the Wolfpack will be more disciplined than in recent years.
Quarterback Daniel Evans started
last season and threw a touchdown in the spring game with 16 seconds
left to give the Red team a 35-31 victory. It was eerily reminiscent
of BC's loss at State last season when O'Brien was on the other
Junior Toney Baker gained 163 yards
and scored two touchdowns on 23 carries for the White team.
Classmate Andre Brown, who split time between the Red and White
teams, totaled 112 yards on his 11 carries. Jamel Eugene totaled 168
yards on 15 carries.
The Wolfpack will reportedly play
more zone coverage in its pass defense in trying to improve on a 3-9
record in 2006 that included a seven-game losing streak to end the
season. But six of those losses were by eight points or less.
The Chuck Amato era ended in
similar fashion to that of his predecessor, Mike O'Cain — with a
loss to ECU. The matchup in Greenville marks the Wolfpack's second
trip to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Right now, the Pirates are farther
along in the rebuilding process than the Pack, an advantage they
will try to maintain during the upcoming season.
UAB (Oct. 27)
The Blazers are also making the
transition to a new coach as Neil Calloway has followed Watson Brown
as coach at UAB.
Although the Blazers handed ECU a
heartbreaking loss the second game of the season, they went on to
drop five games by a touchdown or less. Calloway moved the spring
game from 1 p.m. last week up to 8:30 a.m. on Saturday to beat the
approach of incoming foul weather.
Calloway was concerned about too
many turnovers by the offense and too many big plays allowed by the
defense. The No. 1 offense and No. 2 defense edged the No. 2 offense
and No. 1 defense in the last scrimmage by a 22-16 margin.
The quarterback competition between
Joseph Webb and Sam Hunt will continue into fall camp. Rashaud
Slaughter ran for 97 yards on 12 carries in the spring game that
included a 60-yard pick-up. His brother, T.J. Slaughter, ran 12
times for 49 yards.
UAB has had good success against
ECU over the history of their matchup in C-USA. Regardless of the
result in its rivalry with the Wolfpack the previous week, the
Pirates will need to be refocused and ready for Calloway's
first-year team the following week.
UAB leads the series with the
Pirates, 4-2. The good news is that the 2007 game is not in Alabama,
where ECU has never won a college football contest.
At Memphis (Nov. 3)
After losing at ECU last season,
Tigers coach Tommy West dismissed defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn
but there is still a lot of work to be done on that side of the
Eight starters are back on that
unit, however, and the Tigers have nine starters back on offense.
In Memphis' spring game, Martin
Hankins completed 14 of 19 passes for 219 yards with two touchdowns.
The Tigers scored on four of the spring game's last five possessions
after the defense had been stronger in the earlier stages.
Henry Harris was the leading rusher
with nine carries for 37 yards and a touchdown.
The Tigers were 2-10 last season.
Although ECU leads the series 9-6, only two of the Pirates wins have
come in the last six meetings.
At Marshall (Nov.10)
Marshall completes its spring
practice with its annual intrasquad game on Saturday. The Thundering
Herd has been searching for a replacement for Ahmad Bradshaw, who
ran for 1,523 yards and had a total of 21 touchdowns last season.
Chubb Small ran for 193 yards on 42
carries as Bradshaw's back-up.
With quarterback Bernard Morris and
wide receiver Emmanuel Spann back in green, the Herd may get more
pass happy in 2007. Center Doug Legursky is highly regarded.
Defensive end Albert McClellan
leads seven returning starters on defense.
ECU has beaten the Herd twice since
losing 64-61 in double overtime in the 2001 GMAC Bowl and the
Pirates lead the series 6-2.
Tulane (Nov. 24)
ECU's only open date in 2007 comes
the week before the Pirates take on Tulane.
Bob Toledo took over the Green Wave
program from Chris Scelfo and is expected to give the offense a
boost. Scott Elliott has a degree of experience at quarterback and
back Matt Forte can do a lot to take pressure off the passing game.
Toledo has said during the spring
that the team needs to be able to maintain its intensity to improve
on last season's 4-8 record. The Wave will also need to improve on a
minus-11 turnover ratio.
Tulane returns to the ECU schedule
after an absence since 2004. The Pirates lead the series, 6-2, with
the Wave's wins coming during its perfect season in 1997 and during
ECU's perfect mess in 2003.