ECU News, Notes and Commentary
Wednesday, October 5, 2005
By Bethany Bradsher
Offensive menu grows as new
part of the East Carolina recipe needs a few extra ingredients, it's the
offense. And with every week that passes, the Pirate offensive chefs are
stirring new elements into the stew in a quest for the perfect combination.
trying to get more playmakers on the field," ECU head coach Skip Holtz said.
the five turnovers that crippled the offense during Saturday's loss to
Southern Mississippi, the outing did give ECU a chance to dig deeper into
its toolbox, featuring the first game action for true freshman Jerek Hewett,
an increased role for junior transfer Brandon Fractious and a different
point of view for receiver Robert Tillman.
part of the Pirate leadership's ongoing experiment with their personnel and
their scheme, offensive coordinator Steve Shankweiler said.
happens, it's an evolution of what these kids can do on the field,"
Shankweiler said. "Are we a spread-it-around-and-throw-it team, are we a
line-up-and-pound-you team, are we a combination of the two? And along with
that goes personnel and trying to get the right people in the right spot to
help us identify what we are."
a California native who transferred to ECU from Pima Community College in
Arizona, finished the game with seven carries for 35 yards and one reception
for 15 yards. Those numbers were nearly double his output in the first three
Pirates games combined.
who was technically redshirted before he got into Saturday's game at wide
receiver, has been at the top of Holtz's mental list of the players that
would be activated if they could be difference makers right away. The West
Brunswick high product ended up with three catches for 30 yards — all in the
fourth quarter — and a good first taste of the intensity of the college
good to get back in there," said Hewett, a top-level sprinter who will also
run track for East Carolina. "It's not too much different than high school,
it's just faster and quicker. I had to go out there with a calm head and
just go and do my job."
was excelling at two sports in high school, Hewett was recruited by other
schools but didn't hear much from ECU until the new coaching staff arrived.
But he knew about the program from former high school teammates who had
played at ECU, and he was also swayed by the international reputation of
track coach Bill Carson, he said.
"Everything just fell into place," he said. "So when I saw the two staffs
and I looked at them: Coach Carson is one of the greatest sprint coaches in
the country, and looking at some of the greatest football coaches coming in,
you can't go wrong."
effort to find a spot for Hewett and also to increase Tillman's
productivity, the coaching staff decided to move Tillman to the opposite
side of the field from top receiver Aundrae Allison. Into Tillman's former
spot went Hewett, and sophomore Phillip Henry caught one pass for 16 yards
as the backup to Tillman.
backfield, Fractious stepped in to lighten Chris Johnson's load. As a
newcomer to the East Coast, Fractious suffered some homesickness during
preseason camp, but he has been at ease on the field because the offense is
familiar territory for him, he said.
pretty much the same thing that we ran at the juco, with zone and one back,
so it was the perfect fit," he said.
offensive diversification represents an effort to keep opposing defenses off
balance by employing different types of players, Shankweiler said, even
though Johnson and Allison, almost exclusively, were featured in the first
been some featuring that has naturally occurred because of the course of the
way the games have gone," he said. "But team morale and team productivity is
always higher the more kids you involve, whether it be as a second-team
player or first-team player, whether it be as your go-to guy or just your
decoy. So what we're trying to do is get the best possible alignments for
the kids we have."
fans should expect to see more shuffling on both sides of the ball as the
coaches look for the ideal blend. Some changes are being carefully planned
as the weeks go on, while other developments come on the fly, in response to
the opponent. One example is quarterback James Pinkney's reliance on the
keeper during the Southern Miss game, more than quadrupling his season net
rushing yards from seven going into the game to 45 afterwards.
change was never charted out, Shankweiler said, but it came spontaneously
when the Golden Eagles started dropping eight players back in coverage and
leaving only three to pressure Pinkney.
enough to complete passes against air, but when you drop eight in coverage
that just makes it harder," Shankweiler said. "But when they just rush
three, you've got room to run."
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