CAROLINA & CONFERENCE USA
View from the East
Friday, April 27, 2012
By Al Myatt
Casting a wary eye on 2012 opponents
A Look at the Foes:
Part I of IV
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With East Carolina's
spring football practice in the books, it's time to take a look at the
2012 schedule and do some offseason scouting of the upcoming opposition.
We'll tackle the first
quarter of the 2012 schedule this week. That includes the season opener
at home against Appalachian State on Sept. 1, a trip to South Carolina
the following week and the Pirates' Conference USA opener at Southern
Miss on Sept. 15.
The Mountaineers are
retooling after failing to win or share the Southern Conference
championship for the first time since 2004. South Carolina had 15
seniors on an 11-win team a year ago. Southern Miss will open the Ellis
Johnson coaching era at Nebraska on Sept. 1 and has an open date before
matching up with the Pirates.
State at ECU, Sept 1
The start of the 2012
football season will be a contrast to the outset of the 2011 campaign
for East Carolina. Last year, the Pirates were pitted against
Southeastern Conference force South Carolina in Charlotte to get the
season under way. ECU competed with the Gamecocks until the insertion of
USC quarterback Jeff Garcia and Pirate turnovers combined to create
a 56-37 win for South Carolina.
In terms of sheer numbers
of scholarship players that ECU will face to start the 2012 season,
Appalachian State appears to give the Pirates a competitive break
compared to coach Steve Spurrier's program. That is, until you factor in
the Mountaineers' 34-32 mega-upset of Michigan to kick off the 2007
This will mark the second
time in four seasons that Appalachian has journeyed to Dowdy-Ficklen
Stadium in Greenville. ECU took
a 29-24 win to start the 2009 campaign
and the Pirates went on to win their second straight Conference USA
There has been some
transition on the ASU coaching staff. Former Pirate Dwayne Ledford is
the new offensive line coach. Ledford, who moved from defense to offense
during his ECU career from 1995 to 1998, is working with a young group
which includes a walk-on, Alex Acey, at center. Former ASU quarterback
Scott Satterfield has returned to the program as offensive coordinator
after a stint at Toledo. Satterfield will further groom quarterback
Jamal Jackson, who threw for 2,001 yards last season.
There is promise at the
skill positions including running backs Steven Miller, who gained 380
yards on the ground last season, and Quarterrio Morgan, a transfer from
Western Kentucky. Andrew Peacock and Bobo Beathard project as top
Like ECU, the Mountaineers
made the change to a 3-4 defense last year. Senior defensive end John
Rizor had 65 tackles last season and linebacker Jeremy Kimbrough was in
The Pirates will switch
roles from a year ago when they looked to stun South Carolina. ASU will
fill the underdog's role in Greenville on Labor Day weekend.
ECU at South Carolina,
The Gamecocks will lead
off their 2012 season at Vanderbilt with a Thursday night game on Aug.
30, which will give them a couple of extra days to prepare for the
Among the personnel South
Carolina must replace are a pair of first-round draft choices,
cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who was chosen by the Buffalo Bills with the
10th pick on Tuesday night, and outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, who
went to the San Diego Chargers with the 18th selection.
Spurrier said that the
production of the passing attack in the spring game might have indicated
the need for an improved pass rush and better coverage in the secondary.
"I guess it was nice for
the offensive guys," Spurrier said after the tone of the Garnet and
Black game was set by a 70-yard touchdown from Conner Shaw to Damiere
Byrd on the first snap.
Shaw, who played last
season against ECU when the Pirates
were establishing an early 17-0 lead,
finished 6-for-7 in the spring game for 128 yards and two touchdowns.
Six USC quarterbacks
completed 39 of 54 passes for 511 yards and six touchdowns with two
An ECU defense, which held
the upper hand for much of its own spring practice, figures to be
tested, especially with a pair of first-year cornerbacks.
ECU at Southern Miss,
League losses to Marshall
and UAB were the only blemishes on a 12-2 ledger for the Golden Eagles
in 2011. USM stunned host Houston 49-28 in the Conference USA
championship game and topped Nevada 24-17 in the Hawaii Bowl. The
accomplishments of an 18th straight winning season and 10th consecutive
bowl trip raised the coaching stock of Larry Fedora, who left for North
Finding a replacement for
quarterback Austin Davis was a challenge for the incoming staff of new
coach Ellis Johnson. Redshirt freshman Ricky Lloyd helped himself in the
battle to identify Davis' successor as he completed 14 of 28 in the
spring game for 199 yards. Junior Chris Campbell connected on 12 of 18
attempts for 167 yards. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Arsenio Favor
went out in spring with a knee injury.
It appears the Golden
Eagles will continue to rely on the throwing philosophy that Fedora
brought to the program although new offensive coordinator Ricky Bustle
plans to incorporate running backs Desmond Johnson, Kendrick Hardy,
Jamal Woodyard and Tracey Lampley.
Campbell may have the
inside track for the starting job but the competition will continue in
The Golden Eagles are
retaining the 4-2-5 defensive scheme that helped them to
a 48-28 win in Greenville last
season. That outcome included two interception returns for scores, a
punt return for a touchdown and a blocked punt for a TD.
Those big plays helped USM
overcome ECU's 420-299 lead in total yardage.
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