Insights and Observations
Monday, May 30, 2005
By Henry Hinton
Football edging back toward
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Happy Memorial Day! It’s
the unofficial first day of summer, which means thoughts can turn to some of
our favorite pastimes — swimming, fishing, golfing and wondering how the
Pirates will do this fall.
While Randy Mazey’s team
may still have some baseball left (depending on the announcement of NCAA
pairings today), most people begin to think about football Saturdays in
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium about now.
In our state, there is a
great opportunity during the summer to compare notes with some of our
friends to the west about which of our schools will have the best football
It wasn’t that long ago
when East Carolina fans could stick out their chests with pride and make the
claim that the Pirates were the “best in the Carolinas” … remember that?
Seems like a long time ago. Could the program get back to that lofty status
The Wolfpack has not
fired a shot since the departure of Phillip Rivers two seasons ago and the
Tar Heels are still trying to “find themselves” in the shadow of a rebuilt
Duke and Wake Forest can
also play the game. Jim Grobe has turned the fortunes of the Deacons around
in Winston-Salem and the Blue Devils may also be on the verge of something
Ted Roof has a very
strong nucleus of skilled players returning to Durham this fall, and if he
can find an offensive line the Devils might generate the most noise they've
made since Steve Spurrier left town.
In fact, ECU must open
with Roof’s Devils on Labor Day weekend in Dowdy-Ficklen. The second-year
head coach was in Greenville this week for golf with some area Iron Dukes
and an after-dinner speech. He was giving the expected pre-season spiel
about how the Pirates were going to be much better and very tough this
But does he really
The truth is that Skip
Holtz is still trying to find a way to put together a high-powered spread
offense with no quarterback. He does not have an active player who has taken
a snap in a real college football game. How that turns out in fall practice
will determine everything about East Carolina’s season.
There is still some hope
that last year’s starter, James Pinkney, will return after flunking out in
the spring. However, Pinkney will have more than his poor performance in the
classroom to overcome if he is going to play for a new coaching staff.
He will also have to earn
the coaches' trust and make them believe he truly has turned a new leaf and
can be counted on to attend class and redeem himself for his rocky off-field
performance of last year.
With Pinkney, ECU could
be competitive this season. Without him, it will be mid-season before one of
the other young QB's will have the chance to blossom. That will clearly mean
Holtz will have to re-build the program more slowly.
With the offensive-minded
philosophy Holtz has employed in the past, having a young, inexperienced
quarterback grasp a difficult offensive game plan will take time.
Remember when David
Garrard took over as the starter at ECU in the mid 90’s? Going through the
progression of finding five different receivers took time. Then, all of a
sudden after several games, he seemed to get it.
The same will be true for
any of the quarterbacks in Holtz’s new system. Having Pinkney back could
speed that process simply because of his on-field experience and his
talented throwing arm.
So, enjoy the summer.
September 4th will be here before you know it. Just be careful what you say
to your ACC friends this year. The incubation period on the changes Terry
Holland has made in the Pirate football program is just beginning. Making
any claims about how ECU football is back may be a bit premature.
Maybe next summer.
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