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Game No. 10: East Carolina 54, UAB 42


Game Slants
Thursday, November 11, 2010

By Denny O'Brien

Davis in league of his own

By Denny O'Brien
All Rights Reserved.

BIRMINGHAM, AL — The 2010 season will likely be remembered as the greatest ever by an East Carolina quarterback. At least until next year.

That's when Pirates trigger man Dominique Davis will shatter ECU's single season passing records— the ones he is setting this year.

In a 54-42 shootout victory over UAB Thursday night, Davis established himself as the most prolific single season passer in Pirates history. And that's in a lineage of quarterbacks that includes Jeff Blake, Marcus Crandell, and current NFL standout David Garrard.

Pretty good company to say the least.

It was Blake, the maestro behind the Pirates' memorable 1991 season, whose records Davis erased Thursday. He did it with arguably the best performance of his brief ECU career, a 331-yard, five-touchdown effort that brought his season totals to 3,077 yards and 31 scores.

“Dominique is the epitome of a quarterback in this offense,” Pirates coach Ruffin McNeill said. “He doesn't even have the hang of it yet. Trust me.

“He's only been a part of it since August 6th. This off-season and spring, he'll get even better. I think he'll even tell you that, too.”

That perhaps is the most intriguing detail about Davis' performance to date, the fact that three months ago there were questions about his ability to fit within the Pirates' new system.

Widely regarded as a dual threat tailored more towards today's pistol formations, many doubted he could handle the demands of an offense designed so heavily around the pass.

During stops at Boston College and Fort Scott Community College, he didn't possess the level of accuracy typically required to make his current system a success. And given that most quarterbacks within this system have been generally confined to the pocket, it seemed as if much of Davis' skill set would go to waste.

But that hasn't been the case thus far.

Davis has proven himself adept at reading defenses, running through his route progressions, and delivering the ball on target. His wheels have also enabled offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley to expand the playbook to include roll-outs like the one he called with 53 seconds remaining before the half.

That's when Davis, rolling to his right, found Jonathan Williams alone on the far sideline for a 77-yard gain that led to the Pirates taking the lead at the break.

“It was a little bootleg,” Riley said. “They were a pretty aggressive defense. We thought we would get them flowing with Dominique.

“We just wheeled Jon after we faked it out of the backfield. Sometimes they don't always turn out the way you draw them up, but that one did.”

Davis would be the first one to tell you that his career hasn't gone exactly the way he envisioned. He also is humble to the point where he deflects praise and credits his offensive linemen and receivers for much of the heavy lifting in the offense.

They certainly have played a part in this record-breaking season. A big part. The line has kept him off the turf, while the receiving corps has found openings and extra yardage after most catches.

But the fact that Davis has been unanimously chosen as a team captain in eight of the Pirates' games this season tells you where he stands among his teammates. It also demonstrates that Davis has the intangibles to match his ineffable skills.

After ten games, there is more than enough evidence to give Davis a fair evaluation. Considering his accuracy, mobility, and aptitude at reading defenses, there is only one conclusion you can draw: he is the total package.

He's also the most prolific passer we've ever witnessed at ECU in any given season, and he has two regular season games and likely a bowl remaining. That means a lot of snaps to create separation between himself and Blake.

But wherever the final tally ends in 2010, it will probably be in jeopardy next fall.

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11/12/2010 03:53:37 AM

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