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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
By Brian Bailey

Pirates put on good spring show

By Brian Bailey
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I was really expecting an afternoon of “three yards and a cloud of dust” at this year’s spring football game for East Carolina.

I really expected a very vanilla offense to have trouble moving the football against a talented Pirate defense.

The defense certainly did have its moments, but Robb Kass stole the show. Kass is big step closer to being named the Pirate opening day starter against Virginia Tech after throwing for 231 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game. The starting quarterback job is his to lose.

Kass doesn’t have the athleticism of a Patrick Pinkney or even a Brett Clay. But Kass does have a cannon, and he showed off that strong arm when he was given time to throw.

That may have been the biggest negative of the game. The offensive line looked overmatched at times. Pirate coach Skip Holtz says it is a work in progress. The good news is that ten to twelve players will battle for five spots this fall. The bad news is that there certainly aren’t ten offensive linemen ready to go, just yet.

Back to the quarterback situation, where Holtz wasn’t quite ready to name Kass the opening day starter, just yet.

"As for the quarterback situation, I thought Rob Kass really, really played pretty well today," Holtz said. "I don't think any of the three did any really foolish things.

“I thought the quarterbacks really played well today, but I think Rob really separated himself. He really played well today and it's good to see him get in front of a crowd like that and play as well as he did. He made a couple of really nice throws and I believe he was the quarterback on all three touchdown drives."

After his performance, I asked Kass if he thought he had won the quarterback job.

“That’s something that the coaches will determine after they look at the film,” said Kass. "I know that I gave it my best today. I just want the offense to continue to get better and better.”

On defense, linebacker Jarrett Wiggins led all tacklers with 12. Wendell Chavis had ten tackles, but the star of the show was C.J. Wilson.

Wilson had two big sacks and forced to fumbles. He blasted the quarterback early in the scrimmage in one of the day’s biggest plays.

Holtz knows there is plenty of work to do before Labor Day weekend. He also knows that the September schedule leaves little time to adjust to game week.

“I'm encouraged,” Holtz said. “I think we are better in so many positions, but I'm still not satisfied. We're not ready to play; in fact, we're a long ways away from being ready to play.

"I'm encouraged because we are making some plays, we're throwing, we're making some strides, but still a long way away from being where we need to be in order to be competitive against the schedule we have, especially early in the season."

The only bad thing about the spring game is that we now have to wait over four months for another game. Still, just hearing the pads pop will help us all make it to September!

Gridiron Classic a classic

For the fifth straight year former Pirate Kevin Monroe organized a "Gridiron Classic" basketball game featuring former ECU football players.

Monroe is as good as they get as far as former Pirate football players are concerned. Monroe’s White team slipped by the Gold 58-54 in the game.

Vonta Leach played for the White squad. Leach had a big smile all weekend long, courtesy of that big contract he signed with the Texans during the off season.

Troy Smith was named the game’s MVP.

Former tight end J.J. McQueen kept things light. He saw me using the camera behind the basket as he lined up a free throw. We usually don’t show a free throw as a part of the highlights, so I was just casually watching.

“Where’s the love for me, B.” McQueen asked, looking to make the highlight package.

“We don’t shoot (with the camera) free throws,” I yelled back.

He then clanged one off the rim.

“From the looks of things, you don’t either,” I joked back.

Everyone on the free throw line cracked up. McQueen later buried a three-pointer that I made sure made the highlights package.

It was great to see many of the former Pirate football players, even though they were playing a different sport.


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04/21/2008 07:06:41 PM


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