East Carolina could certainly use a midseason “off” week and now the Pirates are going to get one, courtesy of Hurricane Matthew.
ECU’s home game this Thursday night against the U.S. Naval Academy was postponed on Monday, and rescheduled for November 19th at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Under the circumstances, it was really the only solution, especially with both teams open on November 19th.
Unfortunately, that means the Pirate Nation won’t see this team at home again until Halloween weekend. Still, it was the best decision that could have been reached.
“Based on the latest information and projections we have received regarding the rising water level and subsequent adverse travel conditions in eastern North Carolina the remainder of the week, we feel it is necessary to ensure the safety of everyone involved,” ECU Director of Athletics Jeff Compher said. “We are thankful for our colleagues at the U.S. Naval Academy for their compassion and understanding to assist us with this situation. Additionally, we are appreciative of American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco and his staff for their support throughout this process.”
So the Pirates get a much needed break and will now have extra time to try and figure out how to snap their four-game losing streak, which is the longest since the 2004 season. Next up is a Cincinnati team that has lost three of its last four and stands 0-3 in the American Athletic Conference East standings.
For now, the Pirates have to deal with issues off the field. Some players have already been moved because of the flooding. Others will surely have to move before the waters start to recede.
“The main concern right now is we’re going to work around the clock to get our guys put in safe situations,” said head coach Scottie Montgomery at his weekly news conference. “We don’t want any parents to be worried about their kid, whatsoever. We have some kids that were here over the weekend and are at their parent’s houses right now. They don’t have the ability to get back on campus.”
The Pirates normally have Monday off but had scheduled a practice session in trying to get ready for the Thursday game. Pushing back the game to November also cancelled that practice session.
The unplanned break couldn’t come quick enough for some of the banged up Pirates. Quarterback Philip Nelson will especially benefit from the extra time off.
Still, the ECU coaching staff was impressed with Gardner Minshew in his second appearance.
“We also had a situation where we lost our quarterback in the game,” said Montgomery about the Saturday contest at South Florida. “But we were really pleased with the way Gardner [Minshew] came in and competed. You could tell that he had a full week of work with the first team and receivers. His timing was much better than the first game. He took care of the football in most situations outside of the one [yard line] where we had to start throwing every single down.”
Another positive from the loss to USF was the special teams play and ball security. It was still not worthy of the term “special” but much improved, nonetheless.
“I thought our special teams came back to be an asset for us in the game,” said Montgomery. “We did a lot of work on that. Also, ball security, I know we’ve talked about it quite a bit, but we thought James [Summers] did a good job protecting the football and protecting the quarterback at times at the running back position.”
The USF game changed when a Pirate interception was brought back for a targeting penalty. I’m all for players being protected, but someone has to explain to me just what Colby Gore did wrong. He led with his shoulder, he aimed for the opponent’s shoulder and that opponent lowered his own head. It was great hit and should have been a game-changing play.
Coach Montgomery said, as a receiver himself, he would much rather be hit in the chest area then around the knees. The rules, however, indicate you have to go low. It may take a couple of devastating knee injuries for common sense to take over.
Either way the targeting rule needs some work.
The Pirates are now off this weekend as we deal with the floods. Hopefully everyone will get through this newest challenge.
There is still plenty of football to be played and it all now starts with a trip to Cincy next week.