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View from the East
Friday, April 27, 2012

By Al Myatt

Al Myatt

Casting a wary eye on 2012 opponents

A Look at the Foes: Part I of IV



Part III: Mem, UAB, Navy

Part IV: UH, Tulane, Mar

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

View the Mobile Alpha version of this page.


Casting a wary eye on 2012 opponents: Part I
Heels prevail on 10th-inning single
Pirates' long pursuit of Ashley pays off
A salute to those who stay the course
Rainy day with the radio
Pirates fend off 7th-ranked Rice
Recruiting Thumbnail (Malcolm Ashley)
Tenth-inning blast sinks Pirates
Reckling outduels Brandt with one-hit gem
Smithmyer heats up Pirates' stove for Rice
Smithmyer buys time for Bucs to awaken
Statesville star Mumford goes with his heart

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.

Appalachian 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 season.

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 championship.

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 receivers.

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 on 105.

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, Sept. 8

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 Pirates.

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 interceptions.

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, Sept. 15

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 Carolina.

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 preseason camp.

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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05/11/2012 01:51 AM


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