Bonesville features writer Ron Cherubini
conducted Q&A exchanges with East Carolina
offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley (left) and
Pirate defensive boss Brian Mitchell (right).
The net result: candid
glimpses into the thinking inside the
program heading into next season.
Links to the interviews:
Lincoln Riley Q&A
Brian Mitchell Q&A
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Terry Holland’s decision to play a
basketball game against Appalachian State in Charlotte’s Time Warner
Cable Arena was a curious one.
Hopefully it isn’t the prelude to a
future Queen City matchup with the Mountaineers on the gridiron.
Now that Virginia Tech and ECU have
shifted two of their games to 2016 and 2017, the Pirates suddenly have
an opening on the football schedule over each of the next two seasons.
Given the draw Holland has to both in-state opponents and games in Bank
of America Stadium, you can’t help but wonder if he and App AD Charlie
Cobb already are in discussions about a possible showdown in Charlotte.
If there is one non-conference
scheduling move the Pirates shouldn’t make — aside from another game
against a perennial Top 25 opponent — it’s one that places them opposite
of Appalachian on a neutral field. That, at least to a certain degree,
would create the perception to some that the Mountaineers and Pirates
are on equal footing.
And clearly they aren’t.
It also would generate the potential for
a near-home like atmosphere for ASU. Given Charlotte’s proximity to
Boone, not to mention the number of alums residing in the Mecklenburg
County area, Appalachian likely would outdraw the Pirates, even if by
only a small margin.
Now if ECU is bent on extending more
benevolence Appalachian’s way, then inviting the Mountaineers back to
Dowdy-Ficklen for one of its scheduling vacancies should be the only
choice. Truthfully, though, there is no reason for Holland to take such
an approach considering he already threw the Mountaineers a bone — and
it nearly came back to bite him.
Which is exactly why ECU should avoid
(Granted the Pirates
near-slip against Appalachian in 2009
wasn’t Holland’s fault. He didn’t choose to sleepwalk after ECU sprinted
to an early 24-0 lead.)
Instead of granting the Mountaineers
another chance to build their FBS case, the Pirates should use the
opportunity to schedule a different Football Championship Subdivision
opponent. Old Dominion and William & Mary are much closer, and each
would bring a respectable contingent to Greenville.
Keep in mind
the Tribe’s visit in 2001 drew
the biggest home crowd that season.
Given the Pirates’ over-aggressive
non-conference scheduling philosophy, Virginia Tech’s request to
rearrange future games could be a blessing for ECU. It could certainly
use a breather by filling those slots with home games against
neighboring FCS opponents.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with
occasionally scheduling an automatic win.
And though ECU likely would breeze by
Appalachian — providing the Pirates' don't downshift into neutral —
there is simply no reason to play the Mountaineers at neutral site.
Regardless of the circumstance.
Just a hunch, but I’m guessing East
Carolina will overcome the suspension of Michael Bowman in the opener
against South Carolina. If there is one area in which the Pirates have
an abundance of talent, it is in the receiving corps.
The better question is whether or not
ECU can overcome the loss of cornerback Emanuel Davis. I’m guessing not.
If there is one player on an already
shaky defense the Pirates cannot afford to lose, it’s Davis. He is ECU’s
most veteran and polished defender, and he has by far logged the most
snaps of anyone in the secondary.
Perhaps the biggest talent and
experience drop-off on the entire ECU depth chart is between Davis and
his backup. What’s more, Davis would have drawn the assignment of
covering Gamecocks receiver Alshon Jeffrey, who figures to be one of the
top receivers taken in next year’s draft.
That’s not a good scenario for the