Game No. 13: Maryland 51, ECU 20
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
By Denny O'Brien
Setback will be forgotten in
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WASHINGTON, DC — There will be
better days for Dominique Davis, afternoons that are more consistent with
the ones he typically enjoys in an East Carolina uniform.
My hunch is we'll see more
performances like his debut against Tulsa, where he threw for 383 yards and
five scores. And I'm betting there will be more heroic efforts like we
witnessed against N.C. State, when he calmly cruised the Pirates down the
field for a fourth quarter tie and later provided the winning touchdown in
That's the Dominique Davis
with whom we're most familiar. Not the one who was indecisive and largely
ineffective in a 51-20 loss to Maryland in Wednesday's Military Bowl.
If there is one consolation
the Pirates can take away from their loss to the Terps, it's that Davis's
performance couldn't have been more uncharacteristic. Odds are it will
remain the exception and not the rule for the remainder of his already
Especially when weapons like
receiver Lance Lewis (11 catches, 137 yards, 1 TD) — the Pirates' offensive
star against the Terps — return next year. His presence, along with the
return of several others, ensures that ECU will have one of the nation's
more dynamic offenses in 2011.
At least that should be the
expectation given the Pirates' productivity this fall. Now that ECU has a
full year within the new system under its belt, there is no reason to
believe the Pirates won't demonstrate significant offensive improvement.
“Dominique will have a spring
(practice),” Pirates coach Ruffin McNeill said. “Can you imagine? He didn't
have a spring, or quality summer, or anything like that with Lincoln
“Now he gets an offseason,
spring, summer and another camp with Lincoln. He'll be better.”
Make that infinitely better
than he was Wednesday.
The otherwise accurate
marksman struggled to hit targets, often throwing over, past, and behind
open receivers. He appeared uncomfortable in the pocket and rushed throws
while under the duress of a furious Maryland rush.
“The time off might have hurt
us just a little bit,” McNeill said. “Our timing (was off), even though
we've gone speed on speed in practices.
“We probably could have
executed better. That's one of the things that I talked about was execution.
The blitzes that Maryland showed were great. We saw them on film. They did a
So good that Davis and the ECU
offense appeared three steps slower than the Terps' aggressive defense. The
month-long layoff obviously applied a thick layer of rust onto the Pirates'
offense, and Davis and his teammates were unable to knock any of it off.
Some of that can no doubt be
attributed to Maryland's multiple blitz packages, which certainly disrupted
Davis' rhythm. It consistently flushed him from the pocket and prompted him
to check down to underneath receivers well short of the first down marker.
The Pirates struggled to
consistently move the chains as a result. Even so, it's not like Davis was
the sole contributor to the Pirates' offensive woes.
On several occasions when the
Pirates developed promising drives, they derailed them with penalties (15
for 120 yards) and turnovers (four). It reached a point during the game when
it seemed as if each ECU first down came at the cost of a procedure
To some degree, the Pirates'
inability to click offensively was understandable. The new offensive system
has so many moving parts, and even the slightest glitch can be enough to
sabotage a play for a significant loss.
Given that ECU is still
relatively inexperienced in the new Air Raid offense, along with the lengthy
layoff, the Pirates have hardly reached a point where they can run it on
autopilot. Add to that the fact that ECU played with its third-team center,
and you can understand some of the communication lapses that occurred along
the offensive front.
As for Davis, odds are we
won't remember his Military Bowl performance this time next year. He's too
good and too much of a film room junkie for anything similar to occur again.
If other teams try to
duplicate Maryland's defensive approach, expect a better effort from the
Against the emotionally
charged Terps, we likely saw the worst we'll see of Davis. And despite his
record-setting season, my guess is we've yet to see his best.
a message to Denny O'Brien.
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12/30/2010 06:36:14 AM