It is finally game week at East Carolina. The Pirates will host defending FCS national champion James Madison on Saturday night to kickoff the 2017 college football season.
We got back just in time for game week. Greenville North State’s exploits in the 2017 Little League World Series has put our ECU game preparations a little behind.
Still, Greenville’s run in Williamsport featured several Pirate ties.
North State manager Brian Fields pitched at East Carolina in 1997. He went 7-4 while appearing in 17 games. His pitching expertise was on display in Williamsport as his staff opened play with a perfect game, a no-hitter and then a one-hitter.
Fields appreciated all of the backing from the Pirate Nation.
“We’ve gotten support from all over,” said Fields. “But we know many at ECU are watching.”
ECU head baseball coach Cliff Godwin and his staff flew up to support the North State team this past Wednesday night.
“What a fabulous place,” said Godwin. “And these guys are really playing great baseball on the biggest of stages.”
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Godwin knows a thing or two about a big stage after coaching in the College Baseball World Series with Ole Miss in 2014 and LSU in 2008.
Even Pirate football coach Scottie Montgomery took time out to praise the Greenville little leaguers.
“We are so proud of you,” said Montgomery. “Can’t say how proud of you we are. You are already heroes, not only for young kids but you are heroes for people like me that would like to relive the dream of playing in the Little League World Series.”
Montgomery certainly has other things on his mind to start the week because his team faces a very good JMU squad on Saturday night.
ECU has a 25-game winning streak against FCS opponents. This, however, isn’t your typical FCS program.
“We’re talking about a team that had won their final 12 games and the only game that they lost was to UNC,” said Montgomery. “You know that you are dealing with a talented team and a well-coached football team.”
For ECU to win on Saturday the Pirates have to do two things that they struggled at miserably last year. They must take care of the football and create turnovers.
It sounds like a simple plan but it was a plan that escaped this team last season in so many different games.
Montgomery says his offense has stressed ball protection all throughout camp.
He also says his defense will be able to create those turnovers.
“We have added some different pieces to the puzzle that gets us to the football a little quicker,” said Montgomery. “With our front we think that we have added some depth, the ability to pass-rush that will get it out of his hands a little quicker, but we have a challenge and that is one of them.”
This will certainly be a challenge. JMU has suspended six players for the game with ECU. That will limit the Duke’s depth, which is usually the biggest difference when comparing FBS programs with FCS programs.
Still, this is a James Madison program that would like nothing more than to pull off a victory in Greenville.
The challenge is upon them. Game week will slowly evolve into game day on Saturday.
Thank goodness it’s football season!