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Insights and Observations
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Henry's Highlights
Wednesday, August 30, 2006

By Henry Hinton

Toss aside conventional wisdom for this matchup

Maverick Navy offense complicates the challenge faced by Pirates

©2006 Bonesville.net
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What kind of measurement for the season will the Navy game be for East Carolina? That is an extremely disputed concept.

Many think the opener this Saturday in Annapolis will be a great yardstick for the program.

Is Saturday’s game really a good litmus test? Probably not.

Playing an all option team, particularly one like Navy, presents an unorthodox challenge. Preparation for an offense like this is very different than for other opponents.

It has been said that having additional time to prepare for Navy’s offense is important.

Not so fast my friend!

Ask Colorado State, which had a full month to get ready for the Midshipmen before their meeting in last year’s Poinsettia Bowl. The extra preparation helped CSU hold Navy to a mere 611 offensive yards. Ouch!

Navy rushed for 467 yards in that one and hung 51 points on the board. The silver lining was that the Navy defense gave up 572 yards.

Can you say track meet?

It seems obvious that if you’re going to beat Navy you’re going to have to put up some big numbers. On paper East Carolina looks like a team that should be able to do that.

That makes the ECU offensive line the possible key to victory in this game. The Pirates have the skilled positions covered with an experienced quarterback, running backs and receivers. Good run and pass blocking from an inexperienced crew will be critical.

Defensively, the Pirates will have to play assignment football and watch for the pass.

Wait a minute. Pass?

Yep, Navy is very effective throwing the football. The ECU defensive staff knows that the Midshipmen will lull you into believing they will never pass. But they will and they can be very effective with it.

Navy averaged a respectable 117 yards per game last year throwing the football. Add their 319 per game on the ground and what you have is a very dangerous and unpredictable team.

Will weather play a role in Saturday’s proceedings? With Ernesto still a question mark there is concern that the game could be played in a rainstorm or very wet field. If so, the field turf will be very slippery. The biggest knock on field turf since its inception in the last few years has been the footing problems that take place when it gets a soaking rain.

Advantage Navy? Maybe.

If the rain allows the Pirates to pass, keep in mind that receivers know where they are going and a wet field turf will give the offensive player quite an advantage on a defensive back.

The Pirate coaches are also concerned about Navy’s blocking schemes, which tend to be very low. Coming out of this game healthy, particularly at linebacker where ECU is already thin and inexperienced, is very important.

So, there are some new things for Pirate fans to consider as the season is now just days away from commencing.

A good argument could be made that this game is a good tune-up for the two conference games that come in subsequent weeks at UAB and in Greenville against Memphis.

Looking at the first three games as a mini-season, it would be quite positive to be 2-1 prior to having to prepare for West Virginia.

Of course 3-0 sounds even better.

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This page updated 04/21/08 07:02 PM.
 

 

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