Last week we looked at the first six
opponents on East Carolina's 2008 football schedule and some of the
issues each program faced in spring practice. We continue the tour of
spring camps today with the remainder of ECU's 2008 opponents.
Oct. 18 vs. Memphis (Greenville)
With the Tigers basketball team gearing
up for the Final Four this week, it's a safe bet that Coach Tommy West's
football program has been conducting its offseason workouts in relative
At the top of West's to-do list are
finding a quarterback to replace Martin Hankins and shoring up a defense
that yielded 32.2 points per game. Hankins threw for 292.7 yards per
game and 25 touchdowns as Memphis went 6-2 in Conference USA and 7-6
The quarterback candidates include
senior Will Hudgens, transfer Arkelon Hall, sophomore Matt Malouf and
redshirt freshman Dallas Walker. Hudgens is devoting his spring efforts
to pitching for the baseball team and is enough of a prospect that he
may have to weigh his options if he were to be drafted in June. That has
left Hall and Malouf competing in spring camp.
The Tigers' running game has struggled
since DeAngelo Williams left. West would like to see Miguel Barnes or
T.J. Pitts step up and take some pressure off the passing game.
Fullback Stacy Jones has returned to
the team after a bout with cancer. Jones missed last spring and the 2007
season while undergoing treatment.
"It is great to have him back," West
said. "Stacy has been through so much. He can tell these guys how
thankful they should be to be able to be out here."
Receiver Duke Calhoun is missing spring
as he rehabs from knee surgery but the Tigers will have their top seven
New defensive coordinator Tim Walton
comes from Miami and the Tigers have added defensive backs coach Lytrel
Pollard from Jeff Bowers' former staff at Southern Miss.
Memphis' spring game is April 12 at the
Nov. 2 vs. Central Florida (Orlando)
The Knights program was dealt an
emotional blow prior to the start of spring workouts when redshirt
freshman wide receiver Ereck Plancher passed away from complications at
the conclusion of a conditioning session.
Plancher's death came a day before
spring practice was scheduled to start. Workouts were then delayed until
after Easter weekend.
Plancher did not appear in a game
during UCF's run to the Conference USA championship last season but
coach George O'Leary praised his character and potential.
Nine returning starters on a defense
that recorded 24 interceptions and 39 sacks project as a strength for
The offense has just five starters
back. Running back Kevin Smith, who led the nation in rushing with 183.3
yards per game, opted for the NFL after his junior season and
quarterback Kyle Israel also must be replaced.
The quarterback competition should be
intriguing with sophomore Joe Weatherford, the younger brother of
Florida State quarterback Drew Weatherford, and junior run-throw threat
Michael Greco the primary contenders for the starting job.
The spring game will be played April 12
for the first time at the new Bright House Networks Stadium on campus.
Nov. 8 vs. Marshall (Greenville)
The Thundering Herd disrupted East
Carolina's bid for its first conference championship since 1976 with a
26-7 defeat in Huntington in the 11th game of the season in 2007.
Thankfully for the Pirates, the Herd
star that day, Bernard Morris, who ran for 126 yards and threw for 238
more, was a senior. All C-USA center Doug Legursky also has departed.
This may be a pivotal season for coach
Mark Snyder, who has just 12 wins in three seasons. He's revamped his
staff, bringing in John Shannon from Toledo as offensive coordinator and
former Cincinnati coach Rick Minter as defensive coordinator.
Projected stars include running back
Darius Marshall, who made the All C-USA freshman team last season,
defensive end Albert McClellan, who was the league's defensive player of
the year in 2006, but sat out last season with torn knee ligaments, and
All C-USA safety C.J. Spillman. Linebacker Maurice Kitchens returns
after making 90 tackles and four sacks as a junior.
Tight end Cody Slate plus wide
receivers Darius Passmore and Emmanuel Spann provide capable targets for
a group of quarterback hopefuls which include Georgia Tech transfer
Jonathan Garner, redshirt freshmen Mark Cann and Chris Smith, and 2007
back-ups Brian Anderson and Wesley Beardain.
Marshall's spring game is April 12.
Nov. 15 vs. Southern Miss (Hattiesburg)
The Golden Eagles probably won't be
sending their tailback off tackle 30 or more times per game now that
Larry Fedora has succeeded Jeff Bower as Southern Miss coach.
The program is making the transition to
a spread passing attack. Southern Miss still has an outstanding running
back, Damion Fletcher, to utilize when defenses are stretched by the new
The development of quarterback
Martevious Young in the new system this spring will be an important
factor in a successful start for the new coach.
There also are voids to fill on the
defensive side as all four members of the starting front are gone.
Fedora will put his new product on
display at the spring game on April 12.
Nov. 22 vs. UAB (Birmingham)
With just two wins in his first season
with the Blazers, Coach Neil Callaway went for immediate help and signed
11 junior college players.
Four returning starters on the
offensive line give UAB realistic hope to improve an anemic ground game
that was the least productive in C-USA. Running back Aaron Johns, a
transfer from Alabama, appears to have resolved the academic issues that
sidelined him a year ago.
Joe Webb should move into a starting
role at quarterback after backing up Sam Hunt in 2007. Webb saw action
in 11 games last season, completing 65 of 117 passes for 679 yards with
five touchdowns and one interception. He also ran the ball 67 times for
There's also work to be done on the
defensive side as the Blazers yielded 487.6 yards per game and an
average of 35.1 points.
UAB's spring game is April 12.
Nov. 29 vs. Texas-El Paso (Greenville)
When it comes to the need for defensive
improvement, the Miners are in much the same boat as UAB. Actually,
UTEP's boat may be a little leakier. The Miners yielded 37.1 points per
game last season and an average of 504.8 yards.
ECU was right on that average in piling
up 507 yards of total offense in a 45-42 overtime win last season in El
Paso in which Pirates quarterback Rob Kass performed some late-game
Coach Mike Price has a new defensive
coordinator, Osia Lewis, who has brought a novel 3-3-5 alignment from
New Mexico. After a pair of eight-win seasons, UTEP has had two losing
Quarterback Trevor Vittatoe may be in
the position of having to outscore opponents if Lewis can't get things
tightened up on defense.
UTEP just started spring practice on
Tuesday and has the last spring game in C-USA on May 2.