Game No. 6: ECU 35, Memphis 17
Saturday, October 15, 2011
By Denny O'Brien
Davis, Pirates exorcize their
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MEMPHIS — East Carolina needed
a game like this, an evening when there wasn’t a numeric ranking preceding
the name of its opponent.
So did Dominique Davis, the
once prolific Pirates passer who had suddenly become as embattled at
quarterback as anyone in recent memory. His propensity for engineering
comebacks had seemingly been replaced by a sudden inability to connect with
Enter Memphis, the perfect
paper Tigers for an ECU team riding a humbling 2-9 stretch. They were a
needed welcome mat for a redeeming performance from Davis, who exorcised
some recent demons with a 307-yard, three-touchdown performance in
a 35-17 win that was more lopsided
than the final stats.
That’s because it took an
entire half for Davis and the offense to find their rhythm. But one half of
solid play proved more than enough to tame the overmatched Tigers.
Davis, to his credit, remained
confident throughout the week and within the early stages of the game that
East Carolina would bounce back.
“I was just staying positive
and excited about playing the game,” Davis said about his game week
preparation. “The whole week of practice, everyone looked each other in the
mirror and we figured out what we need to do to be successful. That was the
“I had a bad game (against
Houston). I just had to come back as the leader of the team.
All I’m trying to do is overcome adversity and be as good as I can for my
For most of Saturday’s game,
Davis was more than just good. He engineered a 524-yard explosion by
distributing the ball proficiently to eight East Carolina receivers. He
demonstrated better pocket awareness, ran through his progressions, and was
discerning when opportunities were there to run.
He did all this behind a
patchwork offensive line that took an entire half before it finally gelled.
When it did, the East Carolina offense began clicking much like it did
during the first half of 2010.
Even so, what can’t be
overlooked is that Memphis is among the worst teams within the NCAA’s
Football Bowl Subdivision. That’s true by almost every measure.
So it’s too soon to conclude
that East Carolina has completely righted a ship that a difficult early
schedule had knocked off course — or that the offense is completely back on
There were enough discouraging
details in the first half to think otherwise, and it briefly appeared that
this again would be a game in which ECU would be unable to get out of its
own way. The turnovers, penalties, drops, and missed tackles that have
become an unfortunate characteristic were very much the theme before
ECU’s first half play was so
sloppy that you could virtually hear the collective groan from Greenville in
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. The Pirates gave Memphis a 7-point freebie on
Davis’s fumble at the one-yard line, and several drives were thwarted by
holding calls and dropped passes.
Any attempt to mount a running
game was seemingly met with a two- or three-yard loss. To say it was a
frustrating display of offensive football would be overselling the Pirates’
first half productivity.
But credit East Carolina’s
adjustments and the resilience of its resurgent quarterback for the second
“Dominique is playing with a
young offensive line,” Pirates coach Ruffin McNeill said. “I wish you could
be around him as much as I am. He’s still as humble as can be. The team
“He’s been voted the captain
of the team unanimously (this year). He never blamed anyone, and I
appreciate that from Dominique. Dominique is one of the best leaders I’ve
been around in 31 years.”
That much should be evident by
the senior QB's demeanor alone. If nothing else, Davis has remained steady
through a turbulent storm and has not allowed the peripherals to become a
That’s the type of character
you want in the huddle. And on Saturday, Davis showed why he’s still the man
to lead the Pirates.
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10/16/2011 03:37:19 AM