East Carolina's running back committee
to replace Chris Johnson has diminished in membership during the course
of preseason practice. Any further attrition and the Pirates can apply
for endangered species status for projected ball carriers.
"One of the biggest areas of concern
has been our strength coming into the season with Dominique Lindsay and
Brandon Simmons, two seniors, and J.R. Rogers, a junior, at the tailback
position," said ECU coach Skip Holtz. "We felt like with three
upperclassmen there, we'd be pretty solid."
But Lindsay had a freak collision in a
non-tackling drill and sustained a knee injury that will knock him out
for the 2008 season. The silver lining is that Lindsay does have a
redshirt year available.
Holtz said Monday that the speedy
Rogers has turned his ankle and is doubtful for Saturday's noon game
with Virginia Tech at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
"Two very unfortunate injuries that we
got during camp," Holtz said.
But there has been good news in terms
of maladies on the defensive side of the ball.
"We've gotten a lot of guys back in
Khalif Mitchell, Linval Joseph and Marcus Hands, who has kind of had an
injury-plagued career here," Holtz said. "Having those guys back kind of
strengthens your defensive line a little bit."
Brandon Setzer, another defensive
lineman, who does not have a redshirt year, has also sustained a knee
injury that is expected to keep him out for the season. There would seem
to be a possibility for a medical redshirt application for Setzer.
The adversity at running back should be
viewed as opportunity for Simmons, sophomore Jonathan Williams and soph
Norman Whitley. The Pirates should be well-schooled on what positive
things can happen when reserves get a chance to step up.
Circumstances caused quarterback
Patrick Pinkney to move from third string to starter in the first two
weeks of the 2007 season, a role Pinkney should be much better prepared
for going into this year's matchup with the Hokies.
Dramatic booter MIA
Ben Hartman may have lacked a high
degree of consistency but he came through when it counted with winning
field goals as time expired last season against North Carolina and in
the Hawaii Bowl against Boise State.
Hartman is out of action with an upper
leg muscle tear for the Virginia Tech game with redshirt freshman Ben
Ryan expected to do the placekicking. Ryan connected on field goals of
33, 43 and 44 yards in a scrimmage on Aug. 9 and was good from 25, 42,
50 and 18 yards on Aug. 16. He connected from 32 and 47 yards in a
scrimmage on Aug. 22.
Ryan's 41-yard field goal finished the
scoring in the weather-shortened Purple-Gold game in April.
Speaking of the weather ...
The advanced forecast for Charlotte on
Saturday is calling for isolated thunderstorms with a high of 88
degrees. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent.
The last time the Pirates opened a
season in Charlotte was 1999 with West Virginia providing the
opposition. A 30-23 win over the Mountaineers came as heavy rain was
falling in Greenville, the beginning of a saturation period culminated
by the devastation of Hurricane Floyd two weeks later.
ECU got off to a 5-0 start that season
with wins at South Carolina, which included Skip Holtz serving as
offensive coordinator, and over Miami, 27-23, in Raleigh in one of the
greatest wins ever achieved by the program.
Hopefully, ECU – and the weather – will
be even better this season.