Insights and Observations
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
By Henry Hinton
Toss aside conventional
wisdom for this matchup
Maverick Navy offense
complicates the challenge faced by Pirates
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What kind of measurement
for the season will the Navy game be for East Carolina? That is an extremely
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
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
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
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
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
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
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This page updated
04/21/08 07:02 PM.