ON PIRATE SPORTS
From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
By Brian Bailey
Young backs jockey for travel squad
All rights reserved.
There’s nothing like a
Saturday afternoon scrimmage to get you in the mood for football.
It happens to me every year.
Okay, it happens every year that the media is allowed to see some of the
scrimmage action. Sometimes in the past, the scrimmages have been totally
This year, Coach Skip Holtz
has agreed to let us videotape the last half hour of the workout, giving us
a chance to show preseason highlights to a Pirate Nation desperate for some
Saturday’s first scrimmage was
all about the younger players. Most of the vets were held out of action.
They’ll get plenty of work over the next couple of weekends.
Those young players included a
couple of former Eastern North Carolina prep stars in J.H. Rose’s Jonathan
Williams and Richmond County’s Norman Whitley.
I’ve seen Williams play for a
couple of years at Rose. He really ran the football well on Saturday. The
word within the team is that Williams is really working hard. Williams had a
reputation for “attitude flair ups” at Rose, but that has not been a problem
at ECU so far.
The big question around
Williams is about his role this season. Will he redshirt? I think the
coaching staff would like to redshirt him, but that may depend on injuries.
Whitley was injured last
season. That redshirt year will pay dividends this season. Whitley is a
little barrel of dynamite. He had a nice run in the scrimmage on Sunday. I
really like watching him carry the football. I think he’ll be especially
effective as a receiver out of the backfield.
“We have a lot of running
backs back there,” said Whitley after Saturday’s scrimmage. “I think if
we’re used right, everybody will be fine. It will let us all stay fresh
throughout the season.”
Whitley carried the football
eight times for 91 yards. Williams had 10 carries for 69 yards. Brandon
Simmons took advantage of his two carries, gaining 46 yards. In all, nine
backs combined for 239 yards on 37 attempts. That’s an average of 6.4 yards
Coach Holtz was pleased with
the young horses in his running back stable.
“I thought Jonathan Williams
ran hard as did Norman Whitley, Brandon Simmons and J.R. Rogers,” Holtz
said. "Those are four guys that are competing for a spot on the bus this
year, and that doesn't include Chris Johnson and Dominique Lindsay. It's
going to be a tough decision over the next few days with all the talent that
we have in the backfield."
Holtz compares scrimmages to
work in spring drills.
“I was pleased with the
scrimmage, effort, attitude and the way they ran around and hit," said
Holtz. “This was like spring practice in that every play there is a winner
and a loser. You get excited about a big play with the offense and then you
say that was our safety that missed the tackle and vice-versa.”
The Pirates have two more
scrimmages planned for the preseason. The squad will work this Saturday in
the stadium and then go again a week from this Friday.
Next week, the veterans will
be on center stage, many trying to earn their spot on the depth chart.
That last scrimmage a week
from Friday will simulate game conditions for Blacksburg.
It’s hard to believe that
we’re getting this close to the football season.
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08/14/2007 02:41:17 AM