ECU's 2010 SCHEDULE
As East Carolina goes through spring
football practice making adaptations with a new coaching staff and its
systems, programs around the country are preparing for the 2010 season
with offseason workouts.
It's a good time to check on the teams
the Pirates will face next season and see the issues they are dealing
with in their own spring sessions. This week, we'll examine six
programs, the first half of ECU's upcoming regular season schedule. Next
week, we'll plan to
take a look at the last half of the Pirates' foes
for the 2010 season.
East Carolina will open its 2010
schedule on Sunday, Sept. 5, at 2 p.m. against Tulsa in newly-expanded
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in a Conference USA contest so let's start with a
look at the Golden Hurricane.
Tulsa (Sept. 5, in Greenville), 2009
record: 5-7 overall, 3-5 C-USA. 2009 result: East Carolina 44, @ Tulsa
G.J. Kinne emerged from the quarterback
competition in last year's spring practice to complete nearly 61 percent
of his passes in 2009 for 2,732 yards with 22 touchdowns and 10
interceptions. One problem for Tulsa was its ground game as Kinne also
was the leading rusher with 399 yards.
The Golden Hurricane managed just 30
yards on 31 rushes in a home loss to the Pirates on Nov. 15 last season
in a rematch of the 2008 league championship game. ECU had a commanding
517-266 lead in total yardage.
Kinne, a transfer from Texas, is
working with new co-offensive coordinator Chad Morris this spring.
Morris was a highly-successful high school coach in Texas, contributing
to the development of college quarterbacks such as Jevan Snead of Ole
Tulsa will carry the C-USA banner into
South Bend on Oct. 30 for a non-conference game at Notre Dame. The
Golden Hurricane started spring practice on March 10 and will conclude
with its spring game on April 17.
Memphis (Sept. 11, in Greenville),
2009 record: 2-10 overall, 1-7 C-USA. 2009 result: East Carolina 38, @
The Pirates can quickly establish
themselves as contenders for a Conference USA three-peat with two league
games to start the season. The Tigers are in much the same position as
ECU with a new coaching staff trying to learn and shape personnel during
the spring sessions.
Incoming Tigers coach Larry Porter will
no doubt concern himself with some troubling areas during the 2009
season, the first being overall defense and the second being pass
efficiency. Memphis was 11th and next to last in C-USA in both
categories last year, allowing opponents 457.5 yards per game on offense
while struggling to move the ball through the air.
Like the Pirates, the Tigers are in the
midst of quarterback competition. Miami transfer Cannon Smith appears to
be the leader with Tyler Bass, who has some starting experience, junior
college transfer Andy Summerlin, redshirt freshman Will Gilchrist and
true freshman Ryan Williams in the mix. Porter's staff is installing a
pro set attack.
Another Miami transfer, Jermaine
McKenzie, has looked good among a new wave of receivers. Porter credited
the defense's play in a scrimmage last Friday. The Tigers have their
spring game on April 17.
Virginia Tech (Sept. 18, in
Blacksburg), 2009 record: 10-3 overall, 6-2 ACC. 2009 result: Virginia
Tech 16, @ ECU 3
The Hokies hang their helmets on their
defense, which returns six starters from a unit that was ninth
nationally last season in average points allowed. Coach Frank Beamer's
staff has moved some personnel to fill some voids on that side of the
Redshirt freshman Jake Johnson has been
shifted from linebacker, where he made 55 stops last season, to
defensive end. James Hopper has been moved from cornerback to rover.
Sophomore Lorenzo Williams has been relocated from safety to whip
The most noteworthy move on the
offense, which returns seven starters, sends Josh Oglesby from tailback
to fullback. The most compelling competition this spring shapes up at
the tailback spot where Ryan Williams will try to keep the starting job
in a battle with Darren Evans, who was out last season with a torn ACL.
Virginia Tech took a hit on special
teams with the losses of punter Brent Bowden and placekicker Matt
Waldron. The Hokies hold their first scrimmage on Saturday and will
conduct their spring game on April 24.
North Carolina (Oct. 2, in Chapel
Hill), 2009 record: 8-5 overall, 4-4 ACC. 2009 result: @ North Carolina
31, ECU 17
The Pirates will get a week off after
their trip to Virginia Tech, which should be of value considering the
physical style of the Hokies. North Carolina has a demanding schedule
before the ECU game, playing LSU in Atlanta on Sept. 4, Georgia Tech at
home on Sept. 18 and venturing to Rutgers on Sept. 25.
More immediately, the Tar Heels are
making a big push to create fan involvement in their spring game which
will be televised this Saturday at 3 p.m. on ESPN. Admission will be
free plus there are numerous promotions designed to attract spectators
and keep the cameras from showing too many empty seats at Kenan Stadium.
It has already been a high profile
spring for the North Carolina gridders, who heard motivational remarks
from former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy in March.
With the basketball program coming off
a down year, the timing may be right for the football program to get an
offseason bounce from the fan base on Saturday. Senior T.J. Yates, who
has passed for 5,959 yards in his career, will quarterback the Blue
team. Redshirt freshman Bryn Renner will direct the White.
A.J. Blue, who occasionally took snaps
last season in a Wildcat set, is among those expected to sit out due to
injury. Running back Ryan Houston, the team's top rusher last season
with 713 yards, has not participated in spring workouts so that he might
concentrate on academics. Houston had scoring runs of one and five yards
in the ECU game last year.
Tar Heels tailback Shaun Draughn has
recovered from a shoulder injury and has refined his running technique
in training sessions with the track team. Draughn had 19 carries for 84
yards against the Pirates in 2009. There are 10 starters returning on a
defensive unit that limited ECU to 192 total yards in last season's
contest in Chapel Hill.
Southern Miss (Oct. 9, in
Hattiesburg), 2009 record: 7-6 overall, 5-3 C-USA. 2009 result: @ ECU
25, Southern Miss 20
The Golden Eagles also had a notable
speaker this spring as alumnus Brett Favre, who most recently starred as
quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings, showed up at practice on Monday.
"He was just talking about what it was
like to play here and what it meant to play here, on that practice field
and in that stadium," said Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora. "You
could've heard a pin drop out there. Everyone was glued in and listening
to what he had to say. You don't get many opportunities like that to get
to listen to the greatest quarterback that ever played the game. He said
a lot of things that were on his heart. It was good."
Southern Miss was the first C-USA team
to start spring ball and will be the first league program to hold its
spring game this Saturday. The Golden Eagles have already scrimmaged
twice off campus at Ocean Springs High on the Gulf Coast and Clinton
High to the north.
Quarterback Austin Davis, who missed
the last eight games last year with a foot injury, has been limited in
the spring. His replacement, Martevious Young, has thrown for over 400
yards in the two off-campus scrimmages. The Eagles must replace running
back Damion Fletcher. Tracey Lampley ran for 108 yards on nine carries
in the first scrimmage. Mookie Assad had a 96-yard kickoff return for a
score at Ocean Springs.
V.J. Floyd has run for 92 and 63 yards
in the two scrimmages. Senior linebacker Martez Smith is expected to be
a leader on a defense which returns nine starters. Senior center Cameron
Zipp is the lone starter back on the offensive line. Only four starters
are back on offense. Fedora was unhappy with fumbles in the scrimmage at
Clinton and also was disappointed with the number of big plays allowed
by the defense.
Southern Miss opens its 2010 season at
South Carolina on Sept. 2. Steve Spurrier has announced he will be
calling plays for the Gamecocks next season.
N.C. State (Oct. 16, in Greenville),
2009 record: 5-7 overall, 2-6 ACC. 2009 result: Did not play.
The Wolfpack will return seven starters
on offense and five on defense in 2010. The biggest void going into
spring may have been at running back where mainstays Andre Brown, Toney
Baker and Jamelle Eugene exited the program.
Competing as ball carriers in their
absence have been Curtis Underwood, James Washington and Brandon Barnes.
Russell Wilson is a proven quarterback
although he has been involved in baseball this spring. Redshirt
sophomore Mike Glennon is getting the bulk of the reps with the first
unit. He completed 12 of 25 for 179 yards with two touchdowns in the
Linebacker Nate Irving, out last season
from injuries sustained in a car accident, is expected to renew the
defense with his return. He had eight tackles in the first scrimmage.
Cornerback Gary Grant is out this spring with an abdominal injury.
The Wolfpack will conduct the Kay Yow
Memorial scrimmage as its spring game at Carter-Finley Stadium on April
17. The event raised over $20,000 last year and fourth-year Pack coach
Tom O'Brien is hopeful of exceeding that total this year in honor of the
late ECU alumnus who coached the Wolfpack women's basketball program.
View "Time to check on
the other guys, Part II