East Carolina Preview 2006 - Defense
East Carolina Pirates
Posted Aug 7, 2006

East Carolina Pirates Preview 2006 - Pirate Defense

What you need to know ... The defense improved by leaps and bounds shaving off more than ten points and 50 yards per game off the average, but there still wasn't any production against the run finishing 113th in the nation against the run. Thee JUCO transfer will push for the starting linebacker jobs, while the front four should have enough experience and size to be better. The secondary will be a strength with the return of safety Jamar Flournoy and the emergence of corner Kasey Ross.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Pierre Parker, 69
Sacks: Marcus Hands, 5.5
Interceptions: Pierre Parker, Kasey Ross, 3

Star of the defense: Junior DE Marcus Hands
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior NG Mark Robinson
Unsung star on the rise: Senior LB Orlando Farrow
Best pro prospect: Hands
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Hands, 2) CB Kasey Ross, 3) DT Brandon Setzer
Strength of the defense: Secondary
Weakness of the defense:
Linebacker experience

Defensive Line
There's enough beef and experience to be far more effective against the run, and there needs to be more of a pass rush from all four spots. The return of Marcus Hands from a shoulder injury will be a big boost, while tackles Brandon Setzer and Mark Robinson should be more effective now that they know their roles. Depth will be an issue early on needing several young players to shine right away.
The key to the unit: Hold up against the run.
If the Pirates allow 218 rushing yards per game again, it'll be the front four's fault.
Defensive Line Rating: 5.5 

Projected Starters
- DE Marcus Hands, Jr. - 21 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 9 TFL, 3 quarterback hurries, 2 forced fumbles
Back after earning a few all-star honors last season, the 6-5, 270-pound junior will be the key man on the D line and one of the team's top all-around defenders. He was one his way to a phenomenal year before suffering a shoulder injury that knocked him out in November. He missed spring ball getting healthy, but he's expected to be back and dominant early on this fall.

- DT Brandon Setzer, Soph. - 28 tackles, 6.5 TFL
This is Setzer's year to shine. He took over the starting role halfway through last year and took his lumps, but showed great promise. At 6-6 and 317 pounds, he's the team's biggest defensive lineman and has all-star potential if he turns into a consistent all-around defender.

- NG Mark Robinson, Jr. - 32 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 broken up passes
Able to play either tackle spot, the 274-pound Robinson has to grow into an anchor. He was effective against the run as one of the team's few consistent run defenders, and he has the quickness to grow into more of an interior pass rusher.

- DE Shauntae Hunt, Sr. - 36 tackles, 4 sacks, 7.5 TFL
Hunt has to take advantage of playing on the other side of Marcus Hands. The 6-5, 262-pound senior has 19 games of starting experience, but he hasn't done enough against the run and has to be more consistent at getting into the backfield.

Top Backups
- NG Dontre Brown, Sr. - 16 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL
Brown has seen more than his share of starting time over his career, but he was a backup last year and will spend this season behind Mark Robinson on the nose. At 309 pounds he needs to be better against the run and use his quickness to get into the backfield more.
- DE Scotty Robinson, RFr.
One of the team's rising prospects, the 6-4, 225-pound Robinson has the athleticism of an outside linebacker and good strength. He'll start out behind Marcus Hands offering a smaller, quicker option.

Thank you JUCO transfers. With a knee injury suffered this off-season by Pierre Bell, there's little to no starting experience returning and no proven D-I depth. Three transfers specifically targeted for each spot will be key backups right away and could take over the starting spots early on this fall. The biggest position to watch is the middle where heart-and-soul Chris Moore will be replaced by 2004 starter Durwin Lame and big Fred Wilson. There's decent speed on the outside, but everyone is going to need a little time to figure out what they're doing.
The key to the unit: Figure out the starting three as soon as possible this fall. It's going to take a little while before everyone works together like they should.
Linebacker Rating: 6

Projected Starters
- Jeremy Chambliss, RFr.
Speed, speed and more speed on the outside. The 6-0, 205-pound Chambliss is strong and fast on the outside taking over for Richard Koonce. He'll be used as a pass rusher and needs to grow into a steady producer if Pierre Bell can't return from a knee injury.

- Durwin Lamb, Jr. - 7 tackles
Lamb was a key true freshman making 25 tackles and getting nine starts in the middle. Moved to the outside last year, he had a hard time getting on the field playing behind Richard Koonce on the outside. With Chris Moore gone, Lamb moved back in the middle where he'll be one of the team's most experienced linebackers.

- Quentin Cotton, Jr. - 2 tackles
A special teamer last season, Cotton came out of spring ball with a starting job on the outside. He's a decent athlete, but more likely than not he'll spend the year rotating with Danny Muhwezi. He'll be a regular on special teams.

Top Backups
- Orlando Farrow, Sr.
The JUCO transfer was a strong pass rusher last year for
Lackawanna College in Delaware, and now he'll be expected to be a key player on the outside with Pierre Bell hurt. At 225 pounds he's a bigger option than Jeremy Chambliss.
- Fred Wilson, Jr.
Finally in the mix after coming over from Georgia Military academy, the pure tackler is the biggest ECU linebacker at 6-2 and 255 pounds. He'll try to help Durwin Lamb replace Chris Moore in the middle.
- Danny Muhwezi, Jr.
Muhwezi joins Orlando Farrow from Lackawanna College where he made 50 stops. He's a good-sized tackler who'll be a regular in the rotation on the outside pushing Quentin Cotton.
- Pierre Bell, Soph. - 28 tackles, 2 TFL, 1forced fumble, 2 interceptions
A spot starter as a freshman, Bell was buried on the depth chart on the outside after missing spring ball thanks to a knee injury. He'll find his way back in the rotation early on, or will likely take over the starting job, if he can return to 100%.

Defensive Backs
One of the best pass defenses in Conference USA should be just as good with the expected return of Jamar Flournoy after being suspended all of last year. Kasey Ross is a nice corner to rely on, while Travis Williams and Steve Walls should do a decent job of holding down the other side. Pierre Parker and Kyle Chase aren't all that big, but they're effective safeties. There's decent depth and a lot of speed.
The key to the unit: Consistency in the lineup. Kasey Ross was the team's only defensive back that started the entire season. There will be lots of movement and shuffling in the lineup with several good backup options, but the starting four needs to be in place as long as possible.
Secondary Rating: 7

Projected Starters
- CB Travis Williams, Jr. - 13 tackles, 2 broken up passes
Williams turned out to be a nice backup and a strong special teamer with a blocked kick against Memphis. He's quick enough to be a punt returner, even though he lost the job midway through last season. He'll have to hold up with passing games staying away from Kasey Ross on the other side.

- FS Pierre Parker, Sr. - 69 tackles, 3 interceptions, 6 broken up passes
Parker saw nine starts last year and finished second on the team in tackles and tied for the lead in interceptions. He's a tough 6-0 and 207 pounds with good enough hitting ability to play strong safety if needed. Even with his experience and playmaking ability, he'll have to battle with Jamar Flournoy for the starting job.

- SS Kyle Chase, Sr. - 36 tackles, 2 TFL, 3 broken up passes
An undersized safety at 5-8 and 190 pounds, Chase was one of the team's top tacklers in 2004 with 73 tackles. He was moved to a backup role with the emergence of Zach Baker, but he still saw three starts. He's tough for his size and decent against the pass; his experience will make him a key starter in the back seven.

- CB Kasey Ross, Sr. - 35 tackles, 3 interceptions, 8 broken up passes
The lightning quick senior started every game at one of the corner spots. He turned into a surprising open field tackler with 32 solo stops in his 35 tackles. A pure coverman, he'll be the main man against the opposing number one receivers.

Top Backups
- CB Steve Walls, Soph. - 8 tackles
A special teamer last year, Walls saw a little bit of time in the secondary rotation. While not all that big at 5-9 and 175 pounds, he has 4.4 speed.
- FS Jamar Flournoy, Sr.
The former linebacker was suspended and missed last year. He was a star in 2004 with 75 tackles and 14 tackles for loss, and was supposed to be a key player in the secondary before the troubles. He's 2056 pounds and very fast. He'll push Pierre Parker hard for a starting spot or could end up at strong safety.
- CB Markeith McQueen, Sr. - 1 tackle
One of the team's fastest players and best athletes, McQueen suffered an arm injury early on and missed the rest of the season. He'll be a key third defensive back and should see plenty of time behind Kasey Ross.

Special Teams
Placekicker Robert Lee and punter Ryan Dougherty form one of the nation's best kicking tandems. Now the return game needs some work after averaging 6.6 yards per punt return and a mere 18.5 yards on kickoff returns. Markeith McQueen should add some punch to the punt returns, while Dominique Lindsay will get more work as a kickoff returner than last year's main man, Chris Johnson. The coverage units have to be far better.
The key to the unit: More pop to the return game. ECU was last in Conference USA in kickoff returns and ninth in punt returns.
Special Teams Rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- PK Robert Lee, Sr. - 17-19 FGs, 30-30 extra points
The star JUCO transfer turned into one of America's best kickers nailing all 15 shots inside 40 yards and showing off nice range hitting a 51-yard bomb against Wake Forest. He'll be one of the leaders in the Lou Groza Award race.
- P
Ryan Dougherty, Sr. - 58 tackles, 2,368 yds, 40.8 ypc, 20 inside the 20
Dougherty has been a sensational weapon over the past three years and should be in the mix for All-Conference honors. His average has fallen over the last three years going from 44.5 in 2003 to 41.8 to 40.8 last year, but his accuracy has improved with 15 kicks placed inside the 20 in 2003 to 18 in 2004 to 20 last year.

Related Stories
East Carolina Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 7, 2006
East Carolina Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 7, 2006
East Carolina Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 7, 2006

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