Preview 2008 - Offense
2008 CFN East Carolina Preview |
2008 East Carolina
2008 East Carolina
2007 CFN East Carolina Preview |
2006 CFN East
need to know:
One player won’t be enough to replace current Tennessee Titan RB
Chris Johnson. As good as he was running the ball, he may be
missed more as a kickoff returner and a receiver out of the
backfield. Fortunately, the Pirates are well-stocked at the
position, returning letterwinners Dominique Lindsay, Jonathan
Williams, Norman Whitley, and Brandon Simmons. The budding star
is Williams, a 6-1, 210-pounder that averaged almost seven yards
a carry in limited action as a true freshman. After using three
different starters a year ago, Skip Holtz would prefer to have
one quarterback for the entire season. Patrick Pinkney is the
dual-threat. Rob Kass is the strong-armed pocket passer. After
needing emergency heart surgery and missing all of 2007,
behemoth T Terence Campbell resumes his career with an eye on
bolstering a line that’s missing two starters.
Passing: Patrick Pinkney
121-200, 1,358 yds, 11 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: Patrick Pinkney
79 carries, 306 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Jamar Bryant
48 catches, 704 yds, 6 TD
Star of the
Junior WR Jamar Bryant
Player who has to step up and become a star:
Senior RB Dominique Lindsay or sophomore RB Jonathan Williams
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Dwayne Harris
Best pro prospect: Bryant
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Bryant 2) Senior TE
Davon Drew 3) Junior RG Doug Palmer
Strength of the offense:
Two starting quarterbacks, the starting receivers
Weakness of the offense: Lack of a true feature back,
Projected Starter: Senior Patrick Pinkney
and junior Rob Kass split time last season, starting five
and seven games, respectively. In the spring, they shared snaps
once again. In Skip Holtz’s ideal world, one quarterback pulls
away and the revolving door stops. In the event that doesn’t
happen, the coach has remained open to using both again this
fall. At 6-0 and 198 pounds, Pinkney is the more mobile player,
a quality athlete capable of beating defenses on the ground or
through the air. He showed a knack for sparking the offense,
throwing for 1,358 yards and 11 touchdowns, while rushing for
306 yards and a score. He was named the most improved
quarterback of the spring, a possible sign of things to come in
While Pinkney is the dual-threat, the 6-4, 255-pound Kass is a
pure pocket passer with modest mobility. He has a good grasp of
the offense and, by far, the strongest arm on the roster. There
aren’t many throws he can’t make, though he’d benefit by
exercising more touch on his passes. He was inconsistent as the
starter, going 96-of-175 for 1,164 yards, nine touchdowns, and
four interceptions, saving most of his highlights for just two
Projected Top Reserves: However the pecking order
winds up, Pinkney and Kass will occupy the first two slots. The
only other quarterback with experience is 6-0, 210-pound junior
Brett Clay, who actually started the opener with Virginia
Tech before sinking down the depth chart. He wound up attempting
just 13 passes, a number he’ll surpass only in the event of an
Watch Out For… Pinkney to get the nod for the
opener with Virginia Tech. While there isn’t much separation
between the quarterbacks, Pinkney has a special quality of
lighting a fire under the offense and making defenses pay
attention to his feet. His play in the Hawaii Bowl upset of
Boise State was emblematic of what he means to the program.
Strength: Two starting quarterbacks. Yeah, it’s a
headache at times, but Pinkney and Kass provide the staff with a
luxury, a pair of very distinct hurlers with experience running
the offense. For situational purposes or in the event of an
injury, East Carolina is in good shape at the position.
Weakness: Consistency. There’s a reason no one has
padlocked this job and ended talk of a controversy—neither has
shown the sustained excellence to pull away. Holtz is still
waiting for either Pinkney or Kass to build separation and not
Outlook: Although Holtz will have to delicately
manage and massage two egos, his situation at quarterback is
better than it looks. Pinkney and Kass offer completely
different skill sets and have had success at this level. Plus,
the competition in August should bring out the best in both
Pirates. Ideally, the coach wants one player taking the majority
of the snaps, but recent history indicates that may not happen
Projected Starters: Someone will succeed Chris
Johnson. No one will replace him. The Pirates will move forward
on offense without one of the most dynamic players in school
history. Although no clear-cut favorite emerged in the spring,
seniors Dominique Lindsay and Brandon Simmons
built some separation on a deep field of contenders. At 5-10 and
210 pounds, Lindsay is a tough inside runner with three seasons
of experience. The primary backup to Johnson a year ago, he
carried 66 times for 205 yards and five touchdowns, adding nine
catches for 58 yards and another score.
Simmons is the most physical back on the roster, a 6-1,
223-pound bulldozer, who’ll be used for more than just
short-yardage carries. He runs hard and with good vision, making
him a natural in the red zone. In two seasons since transferring
from Elizabeth City State, he’s scored five times on just 53
Sophomore Kevin Gidrey is a quality athlete at 6-2 and
260 pounds, who can be used as a blocking fullback or as an
H-back. In his first season with the Pirates, he only played on
special teams, but that’s going to change this fall.
Projected Top Reserves: Providing a little more
dash than Lindsay and Simmons is 6-1, 196-pound sophomore
Jonathan Williams, the school’s best blend of power and
quickness. He shook off an ankle injury as a freshman to rush
for 150 yards and a score on 22 carries, and enjoyed one of the
best springs among the backs.
Hopes are still high for 5-9, 187-pound sophomore Norman
Whitley, despite the fact that he’s done little so far and
is coming off a second shoulder surgery in the last two years. A
shifty cutback runner with good hands as a receiver, he has a
high ceiling if he can shed the injury-prone tag.
Watch Out For… Whitley. In a backfield currently
being led by bruising 200-pounds, he’s the one back most likely
to conjure up images of Johnson. Recruited as the heir apparent,
he needs to get healthy in order to inject some flash into the
Strength: Power backs. In Lindsay, Simmons, and
Williams, East Carolina has three big backs who are capable of
moving the chains and wearing out a tired defense late in the
second half. In short yardage, there’s no shortage of viable
options for keeping drives alive.
Weakness: Lack of a gamebreaker. Unless Whitley
begins to fulfill his vast potential, the Pirates will be
without the type of back who can get outside and jet down the
sidelines for a big chunk of real estate. That explosiveness
from the running game is what really made the offense go last
Outlook: To replace Johnson’s production as a
runner and a receiver, East Carolina will use the services of
multiple backs. Lindsay has the inside track on being the
workhorse, but keep an eye on Whitley, the one back in the
stable capable of supercharging the running game.
Projected Starters: Junior Jamar Bryant
stepped up last season and did a nice job of succeeding all-star
Aundrae Allison, leading the Pirates with 48 catches for 704
yards and six touchdown catches. A physical 6-2, 208-pounder,
he’s an asset in traffic and as a downfield blocker. Originally
a Georgia Bulldog, he has the all-around talent to follow
Allison into the NFL in a couple of years.
Joining Bryant in the starting lineup will be 6-0, 198-pound
sophomore Dwayne Harris, who lived up to expectations in
his first year of action. The Pirates’ most versatile receiver,
he was as a pass-catcher, runner, and punt returner. Dangerous
in the open field, he caught 26 passes for 246 yards and two
touchdowns, rushed 20 times for 197 yards and another score, and
even threw a touchdown pass. The staff will continue looking for
ways to get the ball in his hands.
Back for a third season as the starting tight end is senior
Davon Drew, a skilled pass-catcher and honorable mention
All-Conference USA selection. A transplanted quarterback, he’s
bulked up to 6-4 and 254 pounds, and enjoys a significant
advantage in athleticism when matched up with most linebackers.
As a junior, he caught 19 passes for 196 yards and two
Projected Top Reserves: When the Pirates shift to
a three-wide set, talented junior Alex Taylor is likely
to come off the sidelines. In two seasons, he’s yet to catch a
pass, but at 6-4 and 207 pounds, has the size and vertical
skills to deliver a breakout year. Still relatively new to the
sport, he’s liable to explode once he gains some relevant
Junior Reyn Willis was one of the breakthrough players of
the spring, earning the job at the A receiver when the Pirates
go four-wide. A transfer from Alabama, he’s a 6-3, 215-pound
possession receiver, who’ll flourish when matched up with
smaller defensive backs. While not a blazer, he could still be a
vertical threat, playing above defensive backs on jump balls.
Watch Out For… incoming freshman Dayon
Arrington. One of the top recruits from the latest
recruiting class, Arrington has great size, good speed, and a
good chance to contribute in his first fall in Greenville.
Strength: The starters. In Bryant, Harris, and
Drew, the Pirates have one of the best starting trios in
Conference USA. All are reliable pass-catchers, each offering a
unique skill and attribute to the offense.
Weakness: Depth. After the three starters, the
drop-off in talent and experience is precipitous, especially at
wide receiver. Coming out of spring, the only backup with a
letter was senior T.J. Lee, and he caught just five
passes a year ago.
Outlook: The receivers have regrouped nicely since
losing Allison, a dynamite playmaker in his short time with the
program. Bryant has star qualities of his own, Harris is a
multi-dimensional threat, and Drew is one of the league’s best
pass-catching tight ends. The key will be for these three to
stay healthy and increase their output because the reserves have
yet to prove they’re capable of excelling in an expanded role.
Projected Starters: For the first time in the Skip
Holtz era, East Carolina can boast an offensive line that goes
two-deep with experienced players. Leading the way from his
right guard spot is 6-3, 300-pound junior Doug Palmer, a
13-game starter who earned honorable mention All-Conference USA
honors. After bouncing between offensive and defensive line
since arriving, he’s finally going to stay put. The most
physical of the blockers, he gives the unit a presence,
especially on straight-ahead running plays.
The coaching staff is hoping that the other guard position can
be locked down by 6-2, 317-pound junior T.J. Harper, a
junior college transfer who already took part in his first
spring in Greenville. Very strong at the point of attack, he’ll
need to prove he has the quick feet and good hands to handle the
league’s faster pass rushers.
Taking over at center is junior Sean Allen, a key reserve
the last two seasons getting his first chance at a regular role.
He moves well for a 6-3, 307-pounder and can shift seamlessly to
left guard if Harper can’t handle the job. The Pirates have
plenty of depth at the pivot, which could have Allen on the
The tackles shape up as 6-5, 282-pound senior Stanley Bryant
on the left side and 6-6, 324-pound D.J. Scott over
on the right, each of whom started eight games a year ago.
Bryant has the agility and footwork of a former tight end,
making considerable progress in his first season in the lineup.
Despite being on the light side, he was second to Matt Butler
with 40 knockdown blocks.
Scott was a pleasant surprise in his first season, getting in on
605 snaps and earning a spot on the Conference USA All-Freshman
team. Already one of the strongest members of the program, he’s
a devastating run blocker, who could eventually shift inside and
be a force at guard.
Projected Top Reserves: The big news in the
offseason centered on the return of junior tackle Terence
Campbell, who sat out 2007 after undergoing emergency heart
surgery. Before the ailment, the 6-5, 320-pounder was on his way
to becoming the foundation of the offensive line. The key will
be to get him back in game shape and back to dominating the
other team’s ends.
Junior Stephen Heis started eight games at center a year
ago, sliding into the lineup after starter Fred Hicks was
lost for the season with an ankle injury. A rugged, blue-collar
worker at 6-5 and 285 pounds, he’ll continue his battle with
Allen when practice resumes in August.
The 6-0, 306-pound Hicks was playing well when he suffered his
season-ending injury. A former letterwinner at defensive tackle,
he gets good leverage on his blocks and is tough to shake when
he locks on to a defender. He sat out the spring to continue his
rehabilitation, but will be back in the hunt for a starting job
in the summer.
Watch Out For… line coach Steve Shankweiler to do
a lot of juggling before deciding on his five best linemen.
Palmer and Bryant are pretty much set, but the battles at left
guard, left tackle, and center could rage on right up until the
Strength: Depth. Holtz has been working toward a
day when he had both experience and talent filling out the
two-deep. That day has arrived, with six linemen having started
games over the last two seasons.
Weakness: Pass protection. After allowing 26
sacks, a few more than the staff would’ve liked, the Pirates are
faced with not having a sure thing at either tackle position.
Bryant, Campbell, and Scott have upside to go along with an
equal amount of question marks.
Outlook: By Conference USA standards, this is a
solid offensive line that could extend beyond that if Campbell
can return to the form that made him such an exciting young
player two years ago. With a number of players expected to move
around in the early going, it could take a few weeks before this
unit completely gels.