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View from the 'ville
Thursday, August 28, 2008

By Al Myatt

ECU running out of running backs

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

East Carolina's running back committee to replace Chris Johnson has diminished in membership during the course of preseason practice. Any further attrition and the Pirates can apply for endangered species status for projected ball carriers.

"One of the biggest areas of concern has been our strength coming into the season with Dominique Lindsay and Brandon Simmons, two seniors, and J.R. Rogers, a junior, at the tailback position," said ECU coach Skip Holtz. "We felt like with three upperclassmen there, we'd be pretty solid."

But Lindsay had a freak collision in a non-tackling drill and sustained a knee injury that will knock him out for the 2008 season. The silver lining is that Lindsay does have a redshirt year available.

Holtz said Monday that the speedy Rogers has turned his ankle and is doubtful for Saturday's noon game with Virginia Tech at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

"Two very unfortunate injuries that we got during camp," Holtz said.

But there has been good news in terms of maladies on the defensive side of the ball.

"We've gotten a lot of guys back in Khalif Mitchell, Linval Joseph and Marcus Hands, who has kind of had an injury-plagued career here," Holtz said. "Having those guys back kind of strengthens your defensive line a little bit."

Brandon Setzer, another defensive lineman, who does not have a redshirt year, has also sustained a knee injury that is expected to keep him out for the season. There would seem to be a possibility for a medical redshirt application for Setzer.

The adversity at running back should be viewed as opportunity for Simmons, sophomore Jonathan Williams and soph Norman Whitley. The Pirates should be well-schooled on what positive things can happen when reserves get a chance to step up.

Circumstances caused quarterback Patrick Pinkney to move from third string to starter in the first two weeks of the 2007 season, a role Pinkney should be much better prepared for going into this year's matchup with the Hokies.

Dramatic booter MIA

Ben Hartman may have lacked a high degree of consistency but he came through when it counted with winning field goals as time expired last season against North Carolina and in the Hawaii Bowl against Boise State.

Hartman is out of action with an upper leg muscle tear for the Virginia Tech game with redshirt freshman Ben Ryan expected to do the placekicking. Ryan connected on field goals of 33, 43 and 44 yards in a scrimmage on Aug. 9 and was good from 25, 42, 50 and 18 yards on Aug. 16. He connected from 32 and 47 yards in a scrimmage on Aug. 22.

Ryan's 41-yard field goal finished the scoring in the weather-shortened Purple-Gold game in April.

Speaking of the weather ...

The advanced forecast for Charlotte on Saturday is calling for isolated thunderstorms with a high of 88 degrees. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent.

The last time the Pirates opened a season in Charlotte was 1999 with West Virginia providing the opposition. A 30-23 win over the Mountaineers came as heavy rain was falling in Greenville, the beginning of a saturation period culminated by the devastation of Hurricane Floyd two weeks later.

ECU got off to a 5-0 start that season with wins at South Carolina, which included Skip Holtz serving as offensive coordinator, and over Miami, 27-23, in Raleigh in one of the greatest wins ever achieved by the program.

Hopefully, ECU – and the weather – will be even better this season.

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08/28/2008 02:22:26 AM


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