Make no mistake about it. The average fan and media member has a hard time trying to evaluate a scrimmage.
At East Carolina, the media doesn’t get to watch. Pirate Video provides a couple of plays on both sides of the football to area television stations, but that’s pretty much it.
I’ve had a chance to see several of the scrimmages through the years, and it’s really difficult to figure out what you are seeing.
If the offense shines, does that mean the defense is struggling? Or if the offense stutters, does the defense get the credit?
The video is where the coaching staff will see what they are looking for — where guys line up and did the players give maximum effort. Those are two key variables as the team moves forward.
Still, ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery seemed relatively pleased after scrimmage number one on Saturday.
“We’re really pretty prepared right now to play,” said Montgomery. “We’re in a really good spot. We’re further ahead than we’ve been in the past.”
The Pirates struggled with the running game, rushing for just over two yards per carry. That’s exactly half of what Coach Montgomery wants to do this season. That stat may be a bit misleading, because quarterbacks were given a quick whistle to help protect them from injury.
Those quarterbacks each had a shining moment or two. Reid Herring continues as the starter. He was 16-for-26 for 265 yards with three scores. True freshman Holton Ahlers was 8-for-19 for 104 yards, and redshirt freshman Kingsley Ifedi was 9-for-16 for 229 yards and a touchdown.
“We’re really good at quarterback,” Montgomery said. “Usually when the defense makes a mistake or there’s a breakdown on defense, in the last few years we haven’t taken advantage of it. Those guys did a good job today.”
On defense, linebacker Aaron Ramseur led the team with eight tackles and one pass breakup. Nolan Johnson had six tackles in the workout.
First-year defensive coordinator David Blackwell really liked how the early part of the day went.
“I thought the first half of the scrimmage was as dominating a performance defensively as we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Blackwell said. “I thought the second half of the scrimmage the offense made some plays. We have to be able to get off the field on third down. The offense was able to convert a couple of third-and-long situations, and defensively we have to be able to get off the field. We’ll go back and look at the film and grow from there.”
The Pirates have struggled running the football for several seasons now. The offense is much more dynamic when it can move the football on the ground.
The offensive line is one of the spots where the Pirates have to try and build some depth.
“That’s something we have to continue to work at,” said offensive coordinator Tony Petersen. “We have to be deep on the offensive line and we’ve got a ways to go.”
The Pirates were off on Monday and are scheduled to get back to work this morning.
Montgomery knows that every practice, every rep for that matter, is key leading into the start of the season on September 1st.
“We have to find out who the players are,” Montgomery said. “We have to find out who the playmakers at every position are. We’ve done a good job of putting ones and twos out there. But the biggest thing is we have to find the right guys, off of this tape that we watch today, to play together.”
The Pirates will work this week and scrimmage again this coming Saturday. Expect this next scrimmage to be more game-like in nature to try and prepare this team for the real thing.