Insights and Observations
Monday, August 8, 2005
By Henry Hinton
Holtz applying his mark,
sizing up his assets
the comments of Skip Holtz from ECU's
Football Media Day:
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the archives of last week's Talk of the Town
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The Skip Holtz era has
begun at East Carolina with the opening of fall practice.
The new Pirate
skipper met with the media on Saturday and addressed a number of
topics of more than passing interest.
why you won’t see players’ names on jerseys this season, talked
about the return of James Pinkney and made note of the excitement
some of the incoming freshmen are bringing to the program.
Holtz spoke to a
group of approximately 50 members of the press on Saturday during
the annual ECU media day event.
“We’ve waited for
this a long time,” Holtz said, alluding to the official start of
preseason camp. “Everything we’ve done for the last nine months,
with the exception of 15 days of spring practice, has been without a
Holtz has been
particularly impressed during the first few days of drills by a
select group of newcomers to the program. He singled out former West
Brunswick track and football star Jereck Hewett.
coordinator Greg Hudson and secondary coach Rick Smith attempt to
strengthen a porous defense from the last several years they are
hoping Hewett can step in at cornerback and have an impact on the
captured the individual national championship title in the 100-meter
dash at the USA Track and Field Championships last week with a time
of 10.43. He was also part of a national champion 4x100 relay squad
which finished with a time of 40.00.
But it’s not only
Hewett's speed that has the coaching staff excited about what they
have seen in the first few days of camp.
"He has a
combination of size, speed and athleticism,” said Holtz. “I’m still
anxious to see him when we put on pads, because as athletic as he is
I want to just make sure he is not allergic to leather before we
take him out there and say that we’re going to play him a whole
The only other
true freshman Holtz mentioned by name in his opening comments was
quarterback Rob Kass, a 6’4" 240-pound newcomer from Longwood, FL,
who reportedly has turned some heads in early drills.
Holtz said many
other incoming rookies have been impressive but stopped short of
saying they will make a huge early impact.
“There are quite
a number of these freshmen that are going to play for this football
team and have a chance to help us win,” he said. “I don’t want to
turn everybody loose and throw them to the wolves right away. I
would love to red-shirt them all but if they have a chance to help
this football team as freshmen then we’re going to play them.”
biggest break for Holtz has been the return of quarterback James
Pinkney, who missed spring practice due to academics. After finally
getting a chance to be side-by-side on the field with last year’s
starter, Holtz likes what he sees early.
paid a price during the spring semester by working here in town. He
bussed tables,” said Holtz. “I told him when this thing happened
that he had two choices. He could stay here and try to stay focused
on what he had to do or he could go home. He said he wanted to be
here. He wanted to stay in Greenville and wanted to be around this
“He came back and
did a phenomenal job this summer,” said Holtz. “I’m really pleased
with the commitment he has made to be where he is right now. He’s
been given a second lease on life and I certainly hope he makes the
best of it. On the football field James Pinkney can make us a better
football team. You can see his talent, the way he carries himself on
"I’ve said from
the beginning until he turns and earns it I can’t give it to him
right now, until he learns it mentally. But I definitely think he
has the chance to make us a better offensive football team and I’m
certainly glad that we have him.”
fans will notice when ECU opens with Duke on September 3rd is the
absence of players' names on the backs of the jerseys. Holtz
indicates he believes the team is “buying in” to what the coaches
are trying to sell in terms of a new culture and attitude much more
quickly than when he was involved in starting turnarounds at UConn
and South Carolina.
The removal of
individual names is making a statement that Holtz wants the team to
“One of the
players said, 'Coach, we’ve always had our names on our uniforms,' ”
said Holtz. “I said no, we’ve got the one on the front. That’s the
only one we need to worry about right now. Until we’re proud of the
one on the front I don’t care about the one on the back.”
With 26 days
remaining before the season opener with Duke at Dowdy-Ficklen
Stadium, Holtz seems cautiously optimistic about what he has seen in
the first few days of practice.
How good does he
believe this team can be?
“I’ve said all
along that I don’t know how good we can be because I haven’t played
anybody on our schedule, but I look at it and realize that there
isn’t anybody on our schedule that we have beaten in the last three
years,” he said. “So I don’t know how we compare to everybody, but
the way this team is working I think they have a chance to be
competitive. I’m anxious to see how we grow as a football team as we
go through camp.”
The first full
week of practice is in full swing and the coaches will continue to
evaluate their personnel. For the moment Holtz sounds like a guy who
believes there is a lot to build on after just being on the field
with the players for a few days.
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