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If you’re looking for a
defining moment in
East Carolina’s 48-10 blowout loss to South
Carolina Saturday, you won’t find it listed in the
The outcome between the
Gamecocks and Pirates was ultimately decided when the two teams exited
their team buses.
The talent differential
between ECU and South Carolina could not have been anymore stark.
Outside of maybe a couple of positions, the talent gap between the two
teams in Williams-Brice Stadium Saturday was significant.
Pirates head coach Ruffin
McNeill said as much following the loss, all but admitting that the
Gamecocks’ personnel advantage was the difference.
“The better team won this
week,” McNeill said. “We played a Top 10 team, and they came ready to
play. I voted them eighth in the polls last week, and it was an obvious
mismatch for us.
and on special teams they are a very talented team, and against a team
like that you cannot make mistakes on either side of the ball. It was
definitely a game where we faced a Top 10 team and got outplayed.”
The Gamecocks’ speed
advantage was evident on several defensive plays.
Part of the strategy for
combating a furious South Carolina rush was to set up screens to the
Pirates’ stable of running backs. And on numerous occasions, ECU
quarterbacks executed it perfectly, finding their running backs in the
flat and with plenty of room to maneuver.
However the result on each
occasion was a Gamecocks’ defensive lineman or linebacker easily
tracking the ECU runner down, preventing big plays.
The Pirates certainly
didn’t help matters with five turnovers and numerous blown defensive
assignments. But even with perfect execution, it’s hard to envision a
scenario in which this Pirates team could have beaten the more skilled
South Carolina’s talent
was just far too superior to overcome.
We didn’t learn too much
about ECU Saturday, outside of the fact that the quarterback position
remains both a question mark and concern. A more fair evaluation of this
team will come next week at Southern Miss where the talent level will be
far more comparable.
Gamecocks coach Steve
Spurrier obviously saw an area within the East Carolina defense that his
team could easily exploit.
With backup quarterback
Dylan Thompson making his first start on the heels of a poor relief
performance last week against Vanderbilt, and with the Pirates starting
a third string nose tackle, you had to figure the offensive game plan
would be to pound the ECU defense with superback Marcus Lattimore.
But that was far from the
From the opening snap,
Thompson attacked the ECU secondary deep, with junior college transfer
Adonis Armstrong the primary victim. The result was numerous big plays
and a career day from Thompson, who tossed for 330 yards and three
“I asked (offensive line
coach) Shawn Elliot what do you like running,” Spurrier said. “He said,
‘Coach, I’d keep throwing it every down.’ We were getting a lot of yards
per pass attempt and weren’t getting much in run attempts. I like when
the line coach says keep throwing.”
With the heavy load of
pass-first offenses on the Pirates’ schedule, the secondary needs to get
fixed quick. It’s not a positive sign when a team beats you soundly
Holding their own
One of the few bright
spots for ECU Saturday was the play of its offensive line. The Pirates’
front provided solid protection for ECU quarterbacks Shane Carden and
Rio Johnson, limiting the talented Gamecocks front seven to only one
Through two games, that
remains the only sack ECU has surrendered. Perhaps even more impressive
is the fact that the offensive front kept the Pirates quarterbacks
upright without having to hold Gamecocks rushers.
If the offensive line can
remain healthy, Carden and Johnson should have plenty of time to throw
moving forward. That should greatly accelerate the maturation process of