East Carolina had hoped to travel up north and make some noise in the American Athletic Conference.
The only noise was one loud thud.
Temple put a choke hold on the ECU offense and cruised to a 49-6 win over the Pirates.
In so many ways it resembled one of last year’s big losses in the American, something the Pirates had hoped was behind them.
“It’s very frustrating,” said head coach Scottie Montgomery at his weekly news conference on Monday. “We didn’t compete at a high level. I can’t see that if you look at the tape, that it was anything like the Pirates of past. I thought our guys, they competed through the echo of the whistle. We’ve got to do a better job of helping them schematically to give them an opportunity. There was no quit in any part of the game. But it’s frustrating because we didn’t go out and execute.”
The big news from Monday’s press briefing was at quarterback. Coach Mo has vowed to open the competition up this week. Reid Herring, Kingsley Ifedi and Holton Ahlers will all get their shot.
The winner of the quarterback sweepstakes will start against Houston.
“I think the passing game has been directed a little bit more towards Reid (Herring) to this point,” said Montgomery. “That won’t happen anymore. The passing game will be directed toward all three of them. They will get an equal amount of reps this week in practice. When you look at 190 yards of offense and about a third of it coming in one play from one player, another good decision coming from another player, and a lot of plays not going how we would have liked from another player, it’s time we paid attention to it.
“The most important detail is that we start fast in practice tomorrow and we need to start fast in the game on Saturday. Then we’ll have a better idea of where we’re going. But this will be a game plan that’s directed in totality toward all three of them and what they can do, versus a passing game and a running game. So, this will be a little bit more toward what all three of them do really well.”
The updated depth chart for East Carolina reflected the change in attitude at quarterback. Reid Herring was listed first, followed by the word ‘OR’, then Kingsley Ifedi, again followed by ‘OR,’ and then Holton Ahlers.
If Ahlers is going to get a shot the Pirates are going to have to open up the passing game. Montgomery and offensive coordinator Tony Petersen have said several times that Holton’s problem is in reading defenses and calling out protections. Both coaches have told me several times that true freshmen just struggle in those areas. It’s not a permanent condition, but one that takes time.
The Pirates may not have that time. At 2-3 on the year, and with AAC heavyweights Houston and Central Florida coming up in back to back games at home, the Pirates need a positive.
I don’t know Kingsley Ifedi but I love his attitude. He has always said that his role is whatever the coaches want him to do. There seems to be no ego at all. If Ifedi’s number is called I think he’ll be ready.
I do know Holton Ahlers. I’ve known him since he was a baby and have followed his career closely. He’s a winner. He certainly can’t do it by himself, but I think he might just give the Pirates their best chance to win a football game.
If Ahlers is the pick, then the coaches have to diversify the offense to include passing the ball down and into the middle of the field. The playbook has been vanilla at best for Ahlers all year.
The Cougars present a very difficult challenge and the Pirates come in on a down note.
It should be an interesting week in the quarterback room.