Mistakes at Wake call for overhaul at QB
||The post-game slants
and audio bytes, as
penned and digitally
recorded by staff
WINSTON-SALEM After four games, we now have enough by which to gauge.
There have been enough fumbles, interceptions and squandered opportunities
to pass fair judgment.
East Carolina's primary issue on offense is under center and Pirates
coaches seriously should consider making a change.
That's the verdict from last night's 34-16 loss at Wake
Forest, ECU's third straight to the Demon Deacons.
On the other hand, first-year Pirates coach John Thompson has a closer
vantage point and a lot more say-so than this one-man jury.
"We asked a lot out of (quarterback) Desmond (Robinson) tonight,"
Thompson said. "We ran a little power with him, moved him around a little
bit. We tried to stretch the field a little bit. Desmond looks to me like
he's just getting better and better and better every game."
One area in which he isn't improving is the end zone, where the Pirates
seldom visit these days. One-third of the way through the season, East
Carolina has tallied just three touchdowns, one on special teams.
To break it down, that's one offensive touchdown every two games. In the
meantime, there has been no shortage of turnovers.
"It's an easy story when you look at it," Thompson said. "We did some
good things, but when you turn the ball over... turnovers equal touchdowns."
Much of ECU's offensive firepower occurred between the 30's, which is
true to form with the previous three games.
Robinson appears somewhat comfortable in the middle of the field as
long as Terrance Copper is open but he seems to lack savvy and poise in
the red zone. The 5'10" junior doesn't fair much better when the field is
flipped, or when the mood shifts, either.
"We're still in the ballgame then," Thompson said about Deacs receiver
Jason Anderson's 79-yard touchdown catch. "You just have to put that behind
you and come on back.
"I think we did. But then we go right back out there again and turn the
thing over again, and those turn into touchdowns."
In this case, it was the ballgame.
By and large, a team is defined by the play of its field general, who is
the one player who must be relied upon at the time of greatest need.
However, with the game on the line Saturday and the Pirates within striking
distance, Robinson made an ill-advised throw into double coverage, icing the
"We hawk the ball and go after the football pretty good," Deacons coach
Jim Grobe said. "Tonight, the turnovers helped us big-time. Not just from a
score standpoint, it really helped us from a momentum standpoint. It kind of
energized our football team a little bit."
And deflated the Pirates.
Now 0-4, East Carolina is in desperate need of a spark to ignite an
offense stuck in neutral. Though the Pirates definitely were more creative
with their play selection against Wake, that isn't the indelible impression
left by the game.
For the most part, this is a team that is careless with the football, a
direct reflection of the quarterback. To date, Robinson has tossed seven
interceptions and no touchdown passes to go along with a generous
number of fumbles.
At most programs, that would warrant a benching, if for no other reason
than to give the backup a chance.
The burning question these days is the whereabouts of Paul Troth, the
prep All-American and returning starter. Given the offense's struggles, it
seems logical to give him a realistic opportunity to see what he can produce
the second time around.
Yet, the 6'5" junior has not been given enough game-speed reps to develop a
rhythm. In one sense, he has become the forgotten man in a program most
commonly identified by its rich quarterback lineage.
Considering that most quarterbacks make their greatest strides from year
one to year two, it may be time to call his number again.
Robinson, who saw meaningful action last season as Troth's understudy,
worked hard to earn a shot to establish himself as ECU's No. 1 quarterback.
So far, his sustained chance to become the new-age Pirate gunslinger has
widely missed the target.
If unapparent issues have earned Troth an irrevocable
sideline pass, circumstances would seem to warrant that a raw but talented QB further down the depth chart deserves a trial at lifting this team's
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This page updated:
02/23/2007 01:52:11 AM.