ECU News, Notes and Commentary
Saturday, September 10, 2005
By Bethany Bradsher
Secondary operating under
been a lot of talk from the new East Carolina coaches about the players
“buying into” their system. But spend just a minute with secondary coach
Rick Smith, and you realize what a substantial purchase he is asking his
athletes to make.
kind of credibility earned from 34 years coaching at eight different
Division I schools, Smith isn’t just selling determination or even just
excellence. His standard for his players is perfection.
just trying to help them understand that if you want to be successful in
life, you’ve got to do everything right,” he said. “If you want to be a man,
then you’re going to be treated like one. A man does what he’s supposed to
do, when he’s supposed to do it, how he’s supposed to do it. And if he
doesn’t he’s going to pay the price.”
Duke game is any indication, the safeties and cornerbacks are indeed buying
in. Senior strong safety Zach Baker pulled in two interceptions, and
sophomore Pierre Parker, who won the starting free safety job just two weeks
ago when Jamar Flournoy was suspended for a rules violation, recorded
another one. Parker and junior cornerback Kasey Ross each had three pass
break-ups, and the collective effort of the defensive backfield helped ECU
to its first season opening victory in five years.
secondary was certainly one of the brightest spots in a defense that showed
considerable progress over last year’s model. But when asked what makes his
backfield special, Smith was quick to quench too much early-season praise.
know if they’re special yet; they’ve only done it one time,” he said.
“They’re special if they do it every week, over and over and over.”
already issued a warning to his players: It’s just going to get harder as
future opponents see ECU film and identify weaknesses in Pirate coverages.
Each week, the players will have to get sharper to stay ahead of that curve,
watching the Duke film, Smith was pleased with the team’s three
interceptions but identified several pass break-ups that should have been
interceptions, he said. He doesn’t just want to lead the turnover margin in
future games: He wants to dominate it.
“I try to
be fair with them on film: If you drop an interception, was it a difficult
interception, or was it one that you should have made?” Smith said.
the athletes listed as either first or second-string in the secondary are
juniors and seniors, and the combined experience is one of the reasons that
the unit is operating so efficiently. Even the juniors, players like Kasey
Ross and Erode Jean, came in and contributed right away when they were
freshmen, so they have plenty of game-time experience, Ross said.
been playing since we were freshmen,” Ross said. “We’ve got a lot of
experience back there.”
group with talent, too, but even the most experienced and talented player
can founder without proper leadership. That’s where Smith comes in. With
credentials that include defensive coordinator and secondary coach posts at
LSU, Kentucky, Tulane and Cincinnati, he is pouring his nearly 35 years of
coaching into teaching his secondary to do the things that winners do.
genius,” Baker said. “I can’t tell you how much he’s made me better, how
much I’ve improved just from listening to him and soaking up all his
Pirates in the Pros
the April NFL draft, nine Pirates were listed on professional rosters. This
week, with the season opener just days away, that number has been whittled
down to six on active rosters and one on a practice squad.
Coleman is the only ex-Pirate with a starting job at this point, listed as
the first-string defensive tackle with the Atlanta Falcons. But four
different ECU products are second on their depth charts: Damane Duckett with
the Giants, Brian Rimpf with the Ravens, David Garrard with the Jaguars and
Jeff Blake with the Bears.
Copper is listed as third at one of the Cowboys’ wide receiver spots, behind
Keyshawn Johnson and Peerless Price.
Leach, who spent most of last season on the Packers’ practice squad before
being activated in late November, was cut from the team over the weekend and
then re-signed for a second stint on the practice squad.
Alston, who made a splash with the Browns when he returned a kickoff for a
touchdown in his first NFL game, was cut from the team on Monday, and the
Cardinals released Devone Claybrooks with an injury settlement on August 19.
Placekicker Kevin Miller, who played for the Berlin Thunder in NFL Europe as
part of the Seahawks organization in the spring, was cut from the Seattle
roster on August 3 and quickly returned to his other love: golf. Miller was
caddying for friend and Greenville native Will MacKenzie at last weekend’s
Deutsche Bank Championship PGA Tour event.
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