2009 CFN East Carolina Preview
East Carolina QB Patrick Pinkney
East Carolina QB Patrick Pinkney
Posted Jul 16, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - East Carolina Pirates

East Carolina Pirates

Preview 2009

By Richard Cirminiello

- 2009 CFN East Carolina Preview | 2009 East Carolina Offense
- 2009 East Carolina Defense | 2009 East Carolina Depth Chart
- 2008 ECU Preview | 2007 ECU Preview | 2006 ECU Preview 

Head coach: Skip Holts
5th year: 29-22
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 21, Def. 25, ST 6
Lettermen Lost: 24
Ten Best ECU Players
1. DE C.J. Wilson, Sr.
2, FS Van Eskridge, Sr.
3. QB Patrick Pinkney, Sr.
4. DT Jay Ross, Sr.
5. LB Nick Johnson, Sr. 
6. C Sean Allen, Sr.
7. OG Doug Palmer, Sr.
8. DT Linval Joseph, Jr.
9. WR Jamar Bryant, Sr.
10. WR Dwayne Harris, Jr.

2009 Preview
CFN Prediction:
2009 Record: 0-0

9/5 Appalachian State
9/12 at West Virginia
9/19 at North Carolina
9/26 UCF
10/3 at Marshall
10/10 at SMU
10/17 Rice
10/27 at Memphis
11/5 Virginia Tech
11/15 at Tulsa
11/21 UAB
11/28 Southern Miss

2008 Preview
CFN Prediction:

2008 Record: 9-

8/30 Virginia Tech W 27-22
9/6 West Virginia W 24-3
9/13 at Tulane W 28-24
9/20 at NC State L 30-24 OT
9/27 Houston L 41-24
10/11 at Virginia L 35-20
10/18 Memphis W 30-10
11/2 at UCF W 13-10 OT
11/8 Marshall W 19-16 OT
11/15 at Southern Miss L 21-3
11/22 at UAB W 17-13
11/29 UTEP W 53-21
12/6 Tulsa W 27-24
Liberty Bowl
1/2 Kentucky L 25-17

Put down those power tools for a moment, East Carolina. Your bridge to the glory days is finally complete.

It’s taken some time and a couple of coaching changes, but the Pirate program is once again flourishing like it did when Steve Logan was on the sidelines in the 1990s. In fact, three straight winning seasons and last year’s Conference USA championship under Skip Holtz have the school approaching new heights in its history. In 2008, East Carolina became a nationally-recognized entity after shocking Virginia Tech and West Virginia in successive weeks, and rising deep into the Top 25 before settling back to Earth.

Now, just because the Pirates are sizzling by Conference USA standards does not mean it’s about to become content with last season’s Liberty Bowl berth and enhanced notoriety. No, this program could actually be better in 2009 than it was in 2008. The staff has remained intact, a big deal since Holtz has become an increasingly hot name when jobs open up each December. The offense gets back steady QB Patrick Pinkney for a sixth year and the offensive line is chock full of veteran talent. And no one in the league is going to have a better defense than the one in Greenville.

Now that East Carolina has finally gotten over the hump with last year’s breakthrough season, it fully plans to remain there at least through 2009. And with a schedule that includes trips to West Virginia and North Carolina, and a visit from Virginia Tech, there’ll be plenty more chances to make the kind of splash that reaches well beyond the borders of the league.   

What to watch for on offense
: More from the passing game. What do you get when the quarterback is a steady sixth-year senior, the receivers are deep and talented, and the backfield is in a state of flux? More opportunities than usual for Patrick Pinkney to loosen up his arm and get the most out of playmakers, like Jamar Bryant, Dwayne Harris, Alex Taylor, and Darryl Freeney. No, East Carolina is not about to change its offensive philosophy, but in a league with so few defensive backs, there’s justification for testing the airways a little more in 2009.

What to watch for on defense: The development of the backups. Minor detail, right? Not really, and certainly not if the inevitable injuries crop up throughout the season. Although there are no gaping holes on this side of the ball, that can change very quickly with some bad luck. The Pirates are extremely thin at all three units, which is something that’s going to be addressed in August and beyond. Remember, this is a program that fully plans on playing 14 games in 2009.

This team will be far better if … the offense starts trading some field goal attempts for touchdowns. When eight of your games are decided by six points or less, you’re playing with fire. Now, the Pirates did go 6-2 in those nail-biters, but with a more efficient red-zone offense, some of those games didn’t have to be so precarious. East Carolina had more field goal attempts than offensive touchdowns in 2008, an inefficient output that must see a pendulum shift in the opposite direction.

The Schedule:
It's not that bad if the Pirates can survive the first half with four road games in the first six. The non-conference slate is brutal going on the road to play West Virginia and North Carolina after starting out against the always-dangerous Appalachian State, and then there's Virginia Tech on a Thursday night in early November. The conference slate isn't awful with a home game against Southern Miss to close things out. Playing at Tulsa isn't a positive, but that's an interdivision game. The Pirates shouldn't have too many problems with the East.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Patrick Pinkney. Some players aren’t easily defined by statistics alone. Pinkney is one such athlete. He’s not going to be Houston’s Case Keenum, but then again, he isn’t asked to be a prolific passer, who throws 40 passes a game. No, the staff expects him to be efficient and put the Pirates in the best possible position to win games, which he does as well as anyone in Conference USA. A low-risk playmaker, he brings a calming influence to the offense, especially late in games. In East Carolina’s three huge wins over Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Tulsa, he accounted for four touchdowns and not a single turnover.  

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE C.J. Wilson. Not your typical Conference USA defensive end, who’d be an outside linebacker in other leagues, Wilson is a 6-4, 271-pound pro-in-waiting. One of the country’s premier pass rushers, he also has the size and strength to be a force against the run. He enters his fourth year as a starter with a sparkling resume that includes 135 career tackles, 35 tackles for loss, and 21.5 sacks.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore RB Brandon Jackson. When East Carolina is at its best, it’s stout on defense, making plays on special teams, and running the ball with authority. The latter has become a concern because of injuries and suspensions. Jackson, a transfer from Kentucky, has already shown he’s got ability, but how will he perform if forced into the role of feature back? It could happen if Dominique Lindsay has any complications from last year’s knee injury or Jonathan Williams and Norman Whitley are unable to make it back to the team.  

The season will be a success if
... the Pirates win the Conference USA championship. With the wind at its back and as much talent as any team in the league, there’s no reason to shoot for anything less than another title. Already the class of the East Division, East Carolina will also get UCF and Southern Miss, two of its toughest divisional foes, at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Key game: Nov. 5 vs. Virginia Tech. Was last year’s upset of the Hokies a fluke? The Pirates will get a chance to prove otherwise in Greenville and in front of a nationally-televised Thursday night audience. With so much to gain in terms of national credibility, this will have the potential to be the biggest regular season game in East Carolina history.

2008 Fun Stats:
- Penalties: 82 for 742 yards - 62 for 484 yards
- Fumbles: East Carolina 27 (lost 19) - Opponents 26 (lost 11)
- Interceptions thrown: Opponents 22 - East Carolina 9

- 2009 CFN East Carolina Preview | 2009 East Carolina Offense
- 2009 East Carolina Defense
| 2009 East Carolina Depth Chart
- 2008 ECU Preview | 2007 ECU Preview | 2006 ECU Preview 


Related Stories
2009 East Carolina Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 16, 2009
2009 East Carolina Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 16, 2009
2009 East Carolina Preview – Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 16, 2009

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