What you need to know ...
The Skip Holtz/Steve Shankweiler offense was surprisingly
consistent and effective last year with a dangerous passing game
that kept the chains moving. With seven returning starters
including most of the top skill players, there's hope for things
to really shine. However, three starters on the line need to be
replaced, and the top wide receiver (Aundrae Allison) and
running back (Chris Johnson) are coming off big injuries.
Quarterback James Pinkney should be in for a huge year with the
weapons around him to put up big numbers.
Passing: James Pinkney
2222-366, 2,773 yds, 14 TD, 8 INT
Rushing: Chris Johnson
176 carries, 684 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: Aundrae Allison
83 catches, 1,024 yds, 7 TD
Star of the offense: Senior WR Aundrae Allison
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior OG
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman OT Terence
Best pro prospect: Allison
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Allison, 2) QB James
Pinkney, 3) RB Chris Johnson
Strength of the offense: Receivers, skill players
Weakness of the offense:
Experienced offensive line depth, number two quarterback
It's a strange situation for East Carolina. James Pinkney
is the unquestioned starter and should be in for a huge season
after playing well in the new coaching staff's first season,
while still wet-behind-the-ears Brett Clay needs more work. In a
pinch, few teams in America have more emergency quarterbacks
with Pat Dosh (fullback), Kort Shankweiler (fullback) and Davon
Drew (tight end) all still playing somewhere on the offense.
The key to the unit: No interceptions. ECU went 2-4
when James Pinkney threw a pick and 3-2 when he didn't. If he
can up his completion percentage from 61% to around 65% and
boost up his touchdown total just a bit, the offense will roll
through Conference USA..
Quarterback Rating: 6.5
- James Pinkney, Sr. - 222-366, 2,773 yds, 60.7%, 14 TD,
8 INT, 95 carries, 193 yds, 2 ypc, 7 TD
Pinkney returned from off-the-field issues (he didn't enroll in
classes) to be one of Conference USA's best quarterbacks. He was
a steady producing passer averaging 252 yards per game while
showing a surprising command of the offense. Now that it's his
second year in the system, and with a loaded receiving corps to
work with, he should put up even bigger numbers. While not a
true runner, the 6-3, 209-pound senior will take off for
positive yards and won't be a statue.
- Brett Clay, RFr.
While not nearly the physical specimen that James Pinkney is,
the 6-0, 194-pound Clay has a nice arm and knows the offense.
He's a smart decision-maker, at least in practice, who can run a
The Pirates have several effective backs and should do
more with the running game if Chris Johnson returns healthy from
a neck problem. The coaches weren't afraid to split up the
workload last year, and they're do it again with the quick
Dominique Lindsay and Edwin Burke each certain to get plenty of
carries. Pat Dosh and Kurt Shankweiler are former quarterbacks
looking for playing time in the system at fullback.
The key to the unit: Chris Johnson needs to be
healthy the ground game has to be more effective. 3.8 yards per
carry isn't good enough; the offensive will truly sing if the
production gets up to close to 4.5.
Running Back Rating: 6.5
- Chris Johnson, Jr. - 176 carries, 684 yds, 3.9 ypc, 6
TD, 35 catches, 356 yds, 10.2 ypc, 2 TD
The multi-talented Johnson does a little of everything well
leading the team in rushing for the second straight season while
also showing off good receiving skills. He had two 100-yard
rushing games, but his most productive day was as a receiver
catching six passes for 129 yards against Rice highlighted by an
81-yard score to seal the win. He's not huge, but he can move
with the speed to be used as a kickoff returner. He'll be back
after missing this off-season recovering from surgery on his
- Fullback Pat Dosh, Sr.
The former star quarterback prospect was moved to linebacker and
then to fullback, and could still move back to the defensive
side. He's 6-3 and 238 pounds with a phenomenal arm and good
athleticism, but he was never able to put it all together under
center. Now he'll use his physical blocking ability to open
holes for the running game and be a decent receiver.
- Dominique Lindsay, Soph. - 41 carries, 210 yds, 5.1 ypc,
1 TD, 2 catches, 18 yds
Lindsay got the bulk of the work this spring with Chris Johnson
out, and now he looks to play more than just a backup role. He
got into the mix late last season and made a big of an impact
when he got meaningful carries. While he's not all that big at
5-10 and 175 pounds, he can stop and start on a dime.
- Edwin Burke, Jr.
The former walk-on didn't do much of anything last year, but he
has a little bit of experience as both a running back and a
receiver. He's fast with the jets to be a dangerous third-down
back if Chris Johnson isn't 100%.
- Brandon Fractious, Sr. - 47 carries, 261 yds, 5.6 ypc,
2 TD, 4 catches, 27 yds
The team's second leading rusher came over from the JUCO ranks
and had a few nice moments highlighted by a 107-yard, two
touchdown day against UCF. However, he's all but out of the
rushing mix because he can't hang on to the ball and isn't a
- Fullback Kort Shankweiler, Sr. - 1-1, 2 yds
Part quarterback, part fullback, the 6-2, 217-pound son of
offensive coordinator Steve Shankweiler has played various roles
for the team over the years. Mostly he'll be a special teams,
but he should be an interesting offensive option more as a
receiver than a blocker.
The expected return of Aundrae Allison from a
knee injury, along with most of last year's top targets, should
help make the ECU passing game shine. There are plenty of deep
threats to go around in the four-wide formats, and several
options to play around with. Allison is the key needing to take
the heat off of everyone else. Now that the veterans know what
they're doing in the Skip Holtz offense, they should be able to
exploit one-on-one coverage a bit more.
The key to the unit: Developing a reliable tight end
would be nice, but the passing game revolves around Aundrae
Allison. If he's not a star again, or if he's less than 100%,
ECU needs to find a sure-thing number one target.
Receiver Rating: 7.5
- Aundrae Allison, Sr. - 83 catches, 1,024 yds, 12.3 ypc, 7 TD
Expected to return from a knee injury, Allison will look
to return to the form that made him one of Conference USA's most
dangerous receivers. He started off the season like an
All-American with 28 catches for 444 yards and four touchdowns
in the first four games and while he cooled off, he remained
consistent. A fantastic route runner with big hands, the former
JUCO transfer can do a little of everything well.
- Kevin Roach, Sr. - 11 catches, 145 yds, 13.2 ypc
At 6-4 and 217 pounds, Roach is a big, physical receiver who saw
his production dip dramatically last season after catching 26
passes in 2004. He was a spot starter last season coming on late
in the year, and now he'll play more of a role as the number two
target used as a possession receiver.
- Philip Henry, Jr. - 28 catches, 428 yds, 15.3 ypc, 1 TD
The former walk-on fit the new offense like a glove finishing as
the team's second-best wide receiver and a good deep threat with
an 80-yard play against SMU. He won't start every game, but he
has the speed to be a dangerous fourth wideout able to make
plays as a runner as well as a key receiver.
- Steven Rogers, Jr. - 4 catches, 48 yds, 12 ypc
He saw a little bit of time in three-wide sets getting a few
starts. He's not that big, but he has 4.5 speed and needs to get
the ball on the move more.
- Tight end Jay Sonnhalter, Jr.
A back up and special teamer all of last year, he's mostly a
blocker for the return team. At 6-5 and 257 pounds, he's the
biggest tight end option and should be used more this season as
- Bobby Good, Sr. - 15 catches, 292 yds, 19.5 ypc, 3
The backup extraordinaire returns after finishing fifth on the
team in receiving and first in yards per catch. He led the team
in 2004 despite a knee problem, and had issues with his
hamstring early on last season. He's a rock-solid veteran who
can occasionally be explosive, like he was in the season finale
against UAB catching five passes for 104 yards and two
touchdowns highlighted by a 55-yard scoring play.
- Juwon Crowell, Jr. - 3 catches, 31 yds, 10.3 ypc
Mostly a special teamer, Crowell has nice size at 6-2 and 181
pound and saw a little bit of work on offense. As one of the few
experienced reserves, he'll see time behind Kevin Roach.
- Tight end Davon Drew, Soph.
The former quarterback moved over to tight end once James
Pinkney came back, but missed much of last year after getting
suspended. Drew bulked up to 237 pounds and should grow
into a good target over the next few seasons. Even with his
size, he was always a great running quarterback. If he improves
his blocking, he should become a solid weapon.
turned into a strength last year, but now it needs to be
rebuilt with only two returning starters and no appreciable depth. It's
a big group that should excel right off the bat at run blocking led by
big Eric Graham at one tackle and emerging star Terence Campbell on the
other side. Pass protection will be an issue after only allowing 21
sacks last season.
The key to the unit: Stay healthy and keep the same
lineup as long as possible. Consistency would be nice, but it'll be
enough early on to just be productive. The coaching staff doesn't appear
to be worried.
Offensive Line Rating: 6
- OT Eric Graham, Sr.
The team's top offensive lineman last year and a starter over the last
22 games, the 6-6, 324-pound senior is a crushing run blocker who's the
anchor on the line. Versatile enough to start at either tackle position,
or even guard, he'll play where needed.
- OG Matt Butler, Jr.
The 6-4, 308-pound junior went from being a top reserve to a good
starter. Now he's one of the team's few experienced linemen and should
be one of its most consistent. He'll benefit by playing next to Eric
- C Tom Wingenbach, Sr.
He'll have to battle to keep the starting job he took out of spring
ball, but at 6-6 and 300 pounds, he's by far the biggest of the three
options. He's able to play tackle with good athleticism and a little bit
- OG Josh Coffman, Jr.
The former tight end stepped in on the offensive line last season and
saw a little bit of time as a backup. However, he's far from a polished
product. At 6-7 and 285 pounds, he's a tall, athletic blocker who'll
need to prove he can be steady in the running game.
- OT Terence Campbell, RFr.
A star-in-waiting, the 6-5, 325-pound Campbell is a good athlete with
the toughness of a defensive lineman. He's one of the team's biggest
offensive lineman, and he should play like it.
- T Lance Neisz, Sr.
The former defensive lineman has had injury issues, but not he'll be a
key backup behind Eric Graham. He's a tough, strong blocker with good
- C Fred Hicks, Jr.
Hicks got into better shape over the last year and should
push for time in the middle. The former defensive lineman is a strong,
physical blocker who can play guard if needed.
- C Drew Sutton, Sr.
Mostly a special teamer last year, Sutton came out of spring ball in
2005 as the starter. Now he's pushing just to get a little time in the