Purple-Gold Spring Game | Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium | Attendance: 7,322

Inside Game Day | Photo Gallery... | Post-game Audio Clips...

Inside Game Day
Saturday, April 16, 2016

By Al Myatt

Pirates building for the future

Audio Clips

             • Scottie Montgomery...
             • Trevon Brown...
             • Kurt Benkert...
             • Philip Nelson...
             • DaShaun Amos...
             • Jeff Compher...

Junior running back Anthony Scott looks upfield after hauling in a short pass during ECU's Purple-Gold Spring Game on Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

(Photo by W.A. Myatt; Game day gallery...)



Pirates building for the future

Al MyattGREENVILLE — Whether it was the product that new football coach Scottie Montgomery and staff are developing on the field or the recently-formulated plans to renovate the south side of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, which were unveiled Saturday on the big scoreboard screen at halftime of the Purple-Gold game, it's obvious that East Carolina has launched into a significant building mode. ... More from Al Myatt...

First-year East Carolina head coach Scottie Montgomery addresses the team prior to the Purple-Gold Spring Game. (Photo by W.A. Myatt; view Game Day photo gallery...)

Post-game Audio Clips...



Pirates clinch series at Memphis

An 8-2 win at Memphis on Saturday afternoon assured an American Athletic Conference series win for East Carolina. Parker Lamm followed up on a six RBI performance in an 8-1 Pirates win on Friday night by going 4-for-5 with a run driven in and scoring twice ... More...

Next: ECU at Memphis | Sunday, 1 pm



Pirates go on public display

Al MyattPirate Nation will get its most meaningful look to date at the football program since the coaching transition that followed the 2015 season when East Carolina holds its Purple-Gold scrimmage at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday at 2 p.m. ... More from Al Myatt...



Baseball is a frequent flyer

The ECU baseball team left early Thursday morning for an AAC series that starts at Memphis at 7:30 tonight. Last weekend, the Pirates jetted off to New Orleans for a series with Tulane. ... More from Al Myatt...



Pirates prevent sweep with 7-3 win

NEW ORLEANS — Parker Lamm had a two-run single as East Carolina scored five times in the sixth inning of a 7-3 win Sunday that kept Tulane from sweeping a three-game series. Lamm went 4-for-5 with three RBIs as ECU improved to 21-11 overall and 3-3 in the American Athletic Conference. ... More...


Tulane takes series with 3-0 win

NEW ORLEANS — Tulane's 3-0 American Athletic Conference win over East Carolina on Saturday had some similarities to the Green Wave's 5-3 win over the Pirates on Friday night. ... More...


Tulane walks off on three-run homer

NEW ORLEANS — An outstanding pitching effort by East Carolina junior left-hander Evan Kruczynski went unrewarded as Tulane rallied for a 5-2 American Athletic Conference win Friday night. The Green Wave scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, ending the game with a three-run homer by Hunter Williams. ... More...



Nova executed ECU script

Al MyattVillanova's 77-74 win over North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament final in Houston on Monday night bore a strong resemblance to East Carolina's 77-74 win at Weber State three years and two days beforehand in the title game of the CIT ... More from Al Myatt...



Pirates win wild one in 11th

ELON — East Carolina scored two runs on a pair of wild pitches in the top of the 11th inning for a 7-5 win at Elon on Tuesday night. Travis Watkins, Eric Tyler and Bryce Harman all walked with one out in the final frame to load the bases ... More...



Pirates face eight-game road stretch

Chalk up another series win for East Carolina as the Pirates took two out of three from American Athletic Conference preseason favorite Houston. In a battle of nationally-ranked teams the Pirates took the first two games of the series before falling on Sunday. ... More from Brian Bailey...

Audio: The Brian Bailey Show
The Brian Bailey Show airs on Pirate Radio 1250 on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. Brian's guests this week were ECU baseball coach Cliff Godwin (left) and WNCN sports anchor Todd Gibson (right): Replay show...

By Al Myatt
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Post-game audio clips...

Postgame photo gallery...

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GREENVILLE — Whether it was the product that new football coach Scottie Montgomery and staff are developing on the field or the recently-formulated plans to renovate the south side of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, which were unveiled Saturday on the big scoreboard screen at halftime of the Purple-Gold game, it's obvious that East Carolina has launched into a significant building mode.

A $55 million renovation of the press box side of the Pirates' gridiron home since 1963 is planned for completion in time for the 2018 season, when the incoming freshmen are juniors.

The facility upgrade will greatly enhance the game day experience for those willing to commit financially for premium seating.

The perks are numerous with cable television hookups available in an exclusive parking area, just the thing for tailgaters who want to see what's going on around the country on game day.

Athletic director Jeff Compher said all 14 suites planned for the project have already been sold. A significant chunk of the $15 million to be raised has already been pledged. Bonds will finance the remainder.

A crowd of 7,322 saw Kurt Benkert open the momentous occasion with a 75-yard touchdown pass to Trevon Brown on the first snap.

Benkert, who said he is about "80 percent" from a knee injury that kept him out of action during a 5-7 season in 2015 (3-5 AAC), had Brown and Jimmy Williams play rock, paper and scissors to see who would be his initial target.

"Brown won," Benkert said.

Who will win the starting quarterback job wasn't settled on a sunny day that completed the spring workouts. Benkert and Minnesota/Rutgers transfer Philip Nelson are competing like Batman v Superman, without the ill will.

"They both played clean," said offensive coordinator Tony Petersen. "They made good decisions with the ball. They didn't put the ball in danger. ... Today, I didn't see anything that would sway it one way or another. They both had a great spring ball. They were right there together. I would say that will carry through the summer and into camp. We'll have to figure out what we're going to do there."

The numbers from the offense vs. defense format included 447 passing yards, a good afternoon even by the standards of quarterback Shane Carden and offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley from two seasons ago.

Benkert completed 12 of 25 for 216 yards with the score to Brown and an interception that DaShaun Amos brought back 38 yards. Nelson connected on 13 of 24 attempts for 231 yards.

Benkert's Purple team outscored Nelson's Gold unit, 17-13.

"I liked the tempo of our offense, but we have to clean up the mental errors and penalties,” Montgomery said in his general appraisal. “The defense felt the tempo today for the first time in a long time and we have to tackle better. Coach (Jeff) Connors (assistant athletic director for strength and conditioning) has us in great shape and I'm looking forward to the offseason now."

Petersen said a decision will eventually have to be made as to who directs the offense. All things equal, it would make sense to go with Benkert, who is a junior, over Nelson, a senior, because Benkert could give ECU experience going into 2017.

All things are not equal though.

"There is some difference in those quarterbacks," Montgomery said. "Anybody can see that. They have their positives. Both of them are tremendously talented from the standpoint of leadership. That's what makes a quarterback in the end.

"When they walk into a meeting room, either one of them, when they walk into a meeting room, everyone is quiet. Everyone. When they walk in there, they have command of the team. ... Athletically, they're different. One is arm talent. One is complete generalship. It's going to be hard deal."

ECU developed into a two-quarterback team last year with Blake Kemp, who has since left the program, and James Summers, who gained eight yards on four carries as a running back Saturday.

Montgomery acknowledged that Duke used two quarterbacks in a season during his time on the Blue Devils coaching staff.

"We've been in it at Duke, of course," Montgomery said. "We would have preferred to have one guy to lead the program."

Nelson became interested in ECU through Dave Kass, the father of former Pirates quarterback Rob Kass. Nelson's family knew Dave Kass in Minnesota. Coincidentally, perhaps, Rob Kass split time with Patrick Pinkney in 2007.

Petersen said that John Jacobs, a freshman quarterback who redshirted last season, did not participate in spring practice. Jacobs was not hurt. Ray Smith took third team snaps in the spring.

While the offense accumulated 573 yards on 86 snaps, the defense had its moments, too.

"We got some third down wins defensively and a fourth down win," Montgomery said.

The offense didn't appear drastically transformed from the system Riley developed after arriving from Texas Tech.

"The difference is in the details," said returning running back Anthony Scott, who ran 10 times for 47 yards with a 15-yard touchdown that drew the Gold within 17-13 on left-footed Caleb Pratt's conversion kick.

Davis Plowman and Pratt are competing for the placekicking assignment. Plowman hit a 28-yard field goal and a 27-yarder after the pick by Amos. Pratt, who boomed kickoffs last season, was true from 23 yards. Incoming scholarship freshman Jake Verity will be joining the kicking competition.

There were enough big plays to be entertaining offensively, enough big plays to cause concerns for the other side of the ball, but that is the nature of an intrasquad scrimmage.

Those in decision-making positions obviously feel good enough about the program's potential to launch the latest building plan.

The proposed south side tower would include 1,000 premium seats through a new club level, loge boxes and suites. A modern press box is planned. There also will be improvements to spaces for athletes in the Ward Sports Medicine Building and Scales Field House. New hitting facilities for the baseball and softball teams are planned, too.

The existing press box was erected in 1978. Its days are apparently numbered.

"It will be a great kind of finishing touch for our entire athletics complex," Compher said. "This is the one thing that doesn't go with the rest of everything we've done here, whether it be the Smith-Williams Center (basketball practice facility) or baseball, softball, track, soccer field — all of that. This will finish it off really into a first class athletic village on our campus that indicates our commitment to athletics at the highest level.

"Coach Montgomery is especially excited about it. He knows what it will mean for his recruiting but also the other enhancements that we're doing."

The training rooms and locker rooms as well as team meeting areas are due for upgrades. A team lounge is planned.

"All of those things will really impact his program," Compher said.

Montgomery took a microphone on the field to present individual awards for spring ball at halftime to the applause from fans for each recipient.

That was something new.

There will be a lot of new things in store for the ECU program, including one that will rise well above Saturday's scrimmage on Bagwell Field.

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04/17/2016 05:14:53 AM