NEWS, NOTES &
The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
By Bethany Bradsher
Pirates cramming for Russell
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The East Carolina
football coaches talk convincingly about fundamentals and taking care of the
things they can control, but this week is the ideal time to adopt another
slogan, borrowed from sixth century Chinese war strategist Sun Tzu:
“It is said that if
you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a
N.C. State quarterback
Russell Wilson might not exactly be an enemy, but he is probably the most
dangerous opponent to stare down the Pirates’ defense so far this season.
And as they play a life-size game of Whack-A-Mole, the ECU defenders need to
be ready to strike down as many of Wilson’s tactics as possible.
To frustrate his
effectiveness, ECU defensive coordinator Brian Mitchell said, the Pirates
will have to anticipate what he does and zero in on two weapons
particularly: His long pass and his scrambling yardage.
“Up front, you’ve got to
take something away,” Mitchell said. “You can’t let him run and pass and
have the ability to keep you off balance. The most important thing with him
is to play with leverage.
"In the pass game, it’s
vertical — let’s make sure we’re on top so that we’re not giving up big
plays, and within the run game and his scrambling ability we must keep him
contained, no ifs, ands or buts about it.
“You can’t go in saying,
we’re going to play the perfect game against him and stop every play, not
try to put a blanket over everything, but say, ‘We’re not going to let him
do this,’ and ‘We’re not going to let him do that,’ and throw a jab, throw a
jab, throw an uppercut.”
Wilson is second in the
nation in passing yards, with 1,802. He has thrown 17 touchdown passes,
seven more than any other quarterback in the Atlantic Coast Conference and
the third most in the nation. He is also the Wolfpack’s third-leading rusher
with 59 attempts for 163 yards.
And lest anyone forget in
the bright light of his stats, Pirate defenders who have studied Wilson this
week are quick to point out that he does not work alone.
“Russell Wilson, he’s a
good player, and they’ve got a great offensive line,” said sophomore
defensive tackle Michael Brooks. “I think we’ve got just as good players on
our D Line as they do on their O Line.”
The Pirates have keyed on
the Wilson’s strong supporting cast in practice and film study, said senior
linebacker Dustin Lineback, well aware that if they can poke holes in the
offensive line or the receivers’ rhythm, they can trip up Wilson. They
dissected film of N.C. State’s game against Central Florida, whose defense
held Wilson to just 105 passing yards.
Above all, said senior
defensive tackle Josh Smith, they need to stay locked into their specific
roles even when things start to unravel.
“Everybody’s going to
have to play their assignment, or you’re going to lose containments and it’s
going to get out of hand,” Smith said. “What happens when the quarterback
scrambles like that is people come off of their receivers, and then
receivers start running around all over the field. And you can’t necessarily
cover that if there’s no method to the madness.”
Encouraged by their
scrappy play in ECU’s improbable
second-half comeback against Southern Miss
on Saturday, the Pirate defenders feel like their unit is just getting its
sea legs after preseason injuries to players like Brooks, Antonio Allison
and Jimmy Booth. The bad news is that they will face the Wolfpack without
starting free safety Derek Blacknall, who learned on Tuesday that he was
suspended for one game by Conference USA after a flagrant personal foul
against Southern Miss wide receiver Quentin Pierce.
Wilson’s play has drawn
comparisons to that of Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who threw for
199 yards and two touchdowns
against ECU. But while the game in
Blacksburg might have served as a type of warm-up for Saturday’s Wolfpack
visit, the ECU defensive personnel have noticed that Wilson is quicker to
pass first than Taylor, shorter than his Hokie counterpart and, according to
Mitchell, more talented.
“Tyrod is a good
player, but I think this kid is a better passer, and I think he’s
looking to pass the ball first instead of running,” Mitchell said. “I
think the kid is a student of the game. They can say what they want to
say about him — he’s 5-11, he plays baseball. He’s a great competitor
for one. And two, I think so far he’s the best quarterback we’ve seen,
and may see all year.”
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10/13/2010 02:33 AM