East Carolina hasn't opened a football
season against a football championship subdivision opponent since 1996
when the Pirates defeated East Tennessee State 45-21 in Greenville.
That will change when ECU plays
Appalachian State at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Sept. 5 at noon. The
Mountaineers haven't appeared on ECU's schedule since a 38-21 Pirates
win in Boone back in 1979.
Historically, the Pirates usually have
opened the football season on the road against a formidable opponent.
Since that relative breather against ETSU, which dropped football after
the 2003 season, ECU has opened a season just twice at home — against
Wake Forest in 2001 and versus Duke in 2005.
topped the Blue Devils 24-21 in
2005 in Skip Holtz's first game as ECU head coach.
Since 1996, ECU is 1-7 on the road in
its season openers, 2-0 at neutral sites with wins over West Virginia
(1999) and Virginia Tech (2008) in Charlotte, and 1-1 at home.
ECU and App State used to play
regularly but the two institutions went their separate ways in terms of
competitive philosophy shortly after the Pirates won the Southern
Conference championship in 1976 and opted to move up to the major
college level in football.
The Mountaineers remained in the
Division I-AA classification, as it was formerly called, and won three
straight national titles from 2005 to 2007. Eventual 2008 champion
Richmond knocked Appalachian out of the playoffs last season.
ECU is coming off of a Conference USA
championship season in 2008, its first league title since its Southern
Conference crown in '76.
Whitley, Palmer in workouts
Rising junior running back Norman
Whitley and rising senior offensive lineman Doug Palmer have been taking
part in voluntary summer workouts, a good sign that they will be
welcomed back into the program when players return to campus for
preseason camp on August 6.
Whitley was ECU's leading rusher with
698 yards last season. Palmer was a preseason All-Conference USA pick in
2008 but incurred a shoulder ailment that required surgery and kept him
out of 2009 spring practice. Both Palmer and Whitley had personal issues
that left their status for the upcoming season in doubt.
Not involved in summer workouts
apparently is running back Jonathan Williams, who ran for 380 yards in
seven games last season before running afoul of the law on assault
charges last October.
The boys of summer
ECU strength and conditioning coach
Mike Golden has been conducting summer workouts for the football players
from 2:30 to about 5 p.m. The sessions basically are broken down between
skill position players and linemen, who lift at different times.
Everyone does the running drills together at the end.
"We go in the afternoon to try and get
our guys acclimated to the heat," Golden said. "You don't know what your
going to get (in terms of weather conditions) the first couple of games.
The more they're in the heat, the better."
Golden said the workouts have
"It's been going excellent," said
Golden, who migrated to ECU from South Carolina with Holtz in 2005. "We
have a very good senior class. We have great leadership. This whole
team's work ethic is just bringing it day by day.
"They're not looking ahead. They're not
looking behind. It's just one day at a time. They're trying to do the
best job that they can every single day."
Golden said the Pirates are not resting
on their C-USA title laurels.
"It's like last year never happened,"
he said. "To this team, the way they work, it's like they never won a
game. They're just so hungry and working so hard. It's totally different
from what you would expect.
"They're using it the way they should
use it. You've got a target on your chest, you've got to work a little
Workouts continue through July 28. The
players get a week off before returning for preseason camp.
Stadium expansion evaluation
Plans called for the East end of Dowdy-Ficklen
Stadium to be enclosed at the conclusion of the 2009 season, raising
capacity from 43,000 to approximately 50,000 seats.
A determination on whether the project
was feasible in light of the present economic downturn was to be made
next month. The recent announcement that football season ticket sales
had already exceeded 20,000 would seem to indicate that there will be
financial support for the addition.
ECU has edge in QB experience
[Editor's note: This segment of
Myatt's column contains some inaccuracies and an article by Myatt
setting forth a correction and clarification was subsequently published.
View the correction and clarification.]
East Carolina will not face a returning
starter at quarterback until the third game of the 2009 season when the
Pirates play North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Starter T.J. Yates played in
just seven games during the Tar Heels' 8-5 season in 2008 due to an
ankle injury sustained against Virginia Tech.
Appalachian State will turn to DeAndre
Presley, who showed promise as a run-throw threat in limited playing
time behind Armanti Edwards last season. Edwards threw for 2,902 yards
and 30 touchdowns. He ran for 941 yards and 11 scores as a senior.
ECU will face West Virginia in its
second game of the 2009 season but the Mountaineers will be without the
considerable talents of Pat White at quarterback. White didn't have a
great day in a 24-3 loss in Greenville last season but he finished the
season with 1,842 yards passing and 21 TD's. He also ran for 974 yards
and eight touchdowns. WVU will rely on a defense that returns eight
starters from a unit that was 11th nationally in scoring defense in
ECU, of course, returns sixth-year
senior Patrick Pinkney at quarterback, thanks to a favorable medical
hardship ruling from the NCAA. Pinkney passed for 2,675 yards last
season with 13 touchdowns and should give the Pirates a significant
advantage in terms of experienced offensive leadership early on in 2009.