If Rob Kass stands up to real blitzes as
well as he did that of the media when reporters converged on the Murphy
Center prior to the start of August football practice at East Carolina,
then any concerns about the sophomore quarterback's capabilities should
be greatly reduced.
East Carolina sophomore quarterback Rob Kass,
facing his first start in the Pirates' 2007
opener at Virginia Tech on Sept. 1, saw action
in five games last season, including extensive
duty versus South Florida in the PapaJohns.com
Bowl. (ECU SID photo)
He has a
presence and speaks with an authority that are highly desirable in team
Kass's major is communications and his
skills in that area probably help make him a good interview. His
relative inexperience at a key offensive position make make him pivotal
to ECU's hopes of meeting the challenge of a highly-charged 2007
His first start will come in 16 days at
Virginia Tech on national television against a unit which returns eight
starters from the nation's top-ranked defense. At this point Kass's
confidence is ahead of his experience.
He played in five games as a redshirt
freshman in 2006 in a back-up role to James Pinkney. Kass completed 14
of 30 passes for 184 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. His
best numbers came in a 24-7 bowl loss to South Florida in which the
Longwood, FL, product completed 10 of 19 passes for 138 yards.
His first postseason pass was hauled in
by Brandon Fractious for a 26-yard gain. His longest career completion
came later as he connected with Bobby Good for 29 yards on a fourth down
The ECU media guide lists Kass as
6-foot-4 and 247 pounds but he's actually a little lighter. He started
preseason practice around 238 pounds.
"I've lost some weight," he said.
"Probably by the end of camp I'll be in the low 230's. Coach (Todd)
Fitch (offensive coordinator) and Coach (Skip) Holtz, we all thought it
would be good. I'll be a more effective player at a lighter weight
because I'll have that extra step. At 250 pounds in the fourth quarter I
would be too tired.
"At a lighter weight, I'll be quicker
and handle the fourth quarter better."
It might appear that the Pirates plan
for Kass to become a ball carrier more often than anticipated.
"I'm more of a pocket passer," he said.
"But I'd like to get the opportunity to show my running ability off. I
might not be the fastest guy but I'm a pretty tough guy to take down
with the ball."
On seven carries last season, Kass
didn't evoke any comparisons to David Garrard, whose fullback/tight end
running style put defenders on the defensive. Kass netted minus-23 yards
on the ground, with his longest foray — seven yards — coming in the bowl
game against the Bulls.
Obviously, Kass is in a new role as he
has emerged from the shadows after a season as Pinkney's understudy.
"Last year I was taking reps a little
bit with the first team, some with the second team and some with the
third team — whatever it may have been," he said. "This year taking all
the reps with the ones will be a great experience. You get that hands-on
experience. You feel more confident knowing that you have run play after
play with repetition and understanding the offense.
"Another year in the program and
another year in the offense, you feel a lot more confident going into
Fitch's arrival from Iowa State before
spring practice has helped Kass along the learning curve. If his
football intelligence is on the same level as his classroom performance,
then Fitch has a capable student with which to work. Kass has been on
athletic director Terry Holland's honor roll since he arrived in
"Coach Fitch has brought that little
wrinkle here and there," Kass said. "He's been a great asset to us. This
past summer I kind of picked at his brain. I called him all the time,
text messaged him and met with him.
"He had a great quarterback in Bret
Meyer out at Iowa State. He passed for a ton of yards and accumulated a
ton of yards of offense. I really feel like Coach Fitch truly helped
Bret Meyer out because of his knowledge. Going into a game situation, I
would imagine that Bret would have felt prepared.
"I truly feel like I'll be prepared
going into September first at Virginia Tech."
Kass comes from a football family. A
grandfather played quarterback at Hofstra and his dad, Dave, another
quarterback, started his career at Wake Forest before transferring to
New Hampshire. His versatile father once played five positions in a
"They're always there to support," Kass
said. "My family is always there in good times and in bad. My dad's
biggest thing is to 'Always keep your head up' — to not get too high
when you're doing well and not get too low when you're doing bad.
"After a touchdown pass, celebrate with
your teammates, enjoy it but forget about it and go do your job. If an
interception happens, forget about it. You have to be able to lead this
offense not only on the first play of the game but when it gets down to
the nitty-gritty in the fourth quarter."
Kass may not have a go-to receiver with
the talent of Aundrae Allison that Pinkney used to advantage in the
first two seasons of the Holtz era.
"Aundrae was a great player," Kass
said. "He's getting an opportunity to play in the NFL. He obviously
showed what he can do. A guy like Steven Rogers might not have that
blazing speed but I feel confident in what he can do. He understands
this offense. I know Steven Rogers is going to be where he needs to be
on every snap. If I throw a ball out there, he's going to come down with
"A guy who will have that blazing speed
is Jamar Bryant. Like he had an opportunity to show in the spring game,
Jamar runs very crisp routes. He's not afraid to get in there and knock
somebody out, too, but he's able to run away from people.
"I feel like Aundrae was a great player
but in two years of working with Jamar, and for the next three years
hopefully, I feel like we'll have a great opportunity to play well
Kass studied tape of Virginia Tech
during the summer. Despite the caliber of the opposition that the video
portrayed, Kass has confidence that the Pirates can compete in their
"We broke down what we did in the
spring and after that we went into Virginia Tech," Kass said. "Tuesdays
and Thursdays were our film days as quarterbacks.
"That defense is incredible. They have
great team speed but ... we feel like as long as we continue to play in
the system it will give us a good opportunity to win the game."