Sunday night television used to revolve
around The Ed Sullivan Show and Bonanza but East Carolina goes on
display in the non-traditional time slot for college football this week
The Pirates get one more day of
preparation following an open date as they apparently will return to a
ECU coach Skip Holtz indicated earlier
this week that he wasn't sure how playing time would be split at
quarterback for the Pirates on Sunday night at Central Florida.
Whether Patrick Pinkney or Rob Kass
plays the majority of snaps, ECU got a boost when receiver Dwayne
Harris' status was upgraded from questionable to probable. Harris, who
had dinged a shoulder, is the team's top receiver with 45 catches for
The Pirates were already without second
leading receiver Jamar Bryant, who was suspended from the team prior to
the Virginia game.
Pinkney won the starting job in spring
practice after splitting time with Kass for much of an 8-5 season in
2007. But with the offense struggling and the Pirates mired in a
three-game losing streak, Kass came in to provide a spark in the second
half of a
30-10 Conference USA win over
Memphis at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Oct. 18.
Kass completed nine of 17 passes for
167 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions against the Tigers.
"They'll both play," Holtz said. "We
are in a very fortunate situation to have two quarterbacks who have a
lot of experience under their belts. They've both played and been in
"I said it after the game I thought
Rob Kass did a really nice job of going in and managing the game last
week. I thought he took what the defense gave him, made some nice reads
and made some nice throws. I thought he did a nice job and we were able
to put some points up on the board.
"Rob needs to play, but their strengths
are different. Right now I don't think there is a lot of difference
between the two as far as productivity. I think they're both doing some
good things. Until one really emerges as the difference maker, I think
both of them have some strengths that we're going to have to utilize,
especially against the defense we're playing this week."
The Pirates are back to playing poker
with opposing defensive coordinators, making them prepare for the entire
range of attack capabilities that Pinkney and Kass present.
Kass played most of the way against the
Knights last season in
a 52-38 Pirates win in
Greenville on Oct. 6. Pinkney was three for four passing in that game
for nine yards. Kass was 12 for 23 for 201 yards with three touchdowns.
Chris Johnson provided the big plays with a 72-yard scoring reception
from Kass and a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Johnson, of course, is having a very
good rookie season for the Tennessee Titans, who are looking wise for
making him a first-round draft choice. Johnson had 19 carries for 77
yards, including an 18-yard scoring run in a 31-21 win over the
Indianapolis Colts on Monday night. Tennessee is 7-0, the only remaining
unbeaten team in the NFL in 2008.
Central Florida also had some
significant offensive voids to deal with as running back Kevin Smith and
quarterback Kyle Israel are missing from last year's 10-4 team. Smith
ran for 2,567 yards as a junior last season before opting for the NFL,
including 147 yards on 29 carries against ECU. Israel completed 28 of 45
for 313 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in Greenville
The Knights have struggled on offense
in starting 2-5 overall and 1-2 in league play. UCF is averaging 17.9
points per game, last among the 12 teams in C-USA.
"They've been through some question
marks right now, as they're trying to find a little bit of their
identity and who they are," Holtz said. "When you look at the experience
they have on defense, they're just the opposite on offense."
The Knights also have played two
quarterbacks, Rob Calabrese and N.C. State transfer Michael Greco.
"They have a young quarterback who had
to come in and has played five games for them so far this year," Holtz
said. "They're going back and forth between the two quarterbacks and
they have four freshmen tailbacks. They do not have a receiver who is a
junior or senior, they're all sophomores or younger.
"On the offensive line, they only have
one offensive lineman who had started more than six football games up
front. They don't have a lot of experience as an offensive football
team, but they do have some talent.
"Right now I think they're continuing
to work just to find that rhythm, what their identity is, what they're
going to be and where they're going to put their saddle as an offensive
football team. But they do have some talent there."
ECU needs a win to keep pace with
Marshall in the
C-USA East Division race. The
Thundering Herd topped Houston 37-24 in Huntington on Tuesday night,
wearing green helmets for the first time since 1985 in improving to 3-1
in the league. ECU is 2-1 in C-USA.
Marshall will get significantly more
time to prepare for its visit to Greenville for ECU's homecoming on Nov.
8 than the Pirates will have to get ready for the Herd.
ECU has had ample time to focus on this
Sunday night's game compared to the Knights, who took a 49-19 loss at
unbeaten Tulsa this past Sunday night.
"It buys you an extra day," Holtz said
of ECU's schedule. "It won't affect us as much in this game as it will
the week after. If it were a Friday night game it would shorten this
week, which really wouldn't bother us coming out of an open date. It
kind of gives us an extra day this week to prepare, but it's going to
take away a day away from us next week as we prepare for Marshall.
"I think it's going to be a bigger
factor next week than it will be this week. Probably my biggest concern
is what I'm going to do with them Friday night because that's Halloween.
Normally we're traveling on Friday and they're in a hotel room, so
that's probably my biggest concern.
"I think the extra day is going to buy
us more time this week and it won't be a negative or a distraction. I've
never played on Sunday night, so it's going to be a new experience for