Confidence Booming in ECU Secondary

The Pirates have depth across the board in the defensive backfield. There has been no shortage of confidence in the minds of the players but when the season finally kicks off, the secondary will have to prove itself.

GREENVILLE, N.C. — With the season opener just one week away, East Carolina’s defense is beginning to take shape.

Similar to the way its been in past years, ECU’s front seven stands as the main strength and stopping the run remains top priority. But the secondary is beginning to find its way and while fall camp was riddled with position battles, the smoke seems to be clearing and starters have moved into their positions.

Defensive coordinator Rick Smith confirmed that seniors Josh Hawkins and Rocco Scarfone will man the field and boundary corner positions respectively. On safety Terrell Richardson is manning the strong position while senior Domonique Lennon and sophomore Travon Simmons continue to fight for the free spot.

“There’s competition everywhere, we have coach (Rick) Smith as a coach,” Lennon said with a laugh. “Everyone is fighting for a job and that’s what makes everyone better is that competition, we all push each other.”

The depth in the sceondary, with the likes of Corey Seargent, Bobby Fulp, DaShaun Amos, Travis Phillips and more backing the starters up, is a far bigger strength this season than last year.

“I don’t want to have to those starters play eighty plays like last year,” Smith said. “I’d like the starters to play about 60 snaps and the backups play 30. It’s just hard to play the way offenses are where they have you all spread out and run the deep routes. You have to have four corners ready to play.”

There hasn’t been a lack of confidence in the players’ minds and while Smith is never quick to dish out praise, the always self-assured Hawkins sees improvement as the beginning of his final collegiate campaign draws ever closer.

“We’re really fast on the back end,” Hawkins said. “We have a good amount of depth, we have some great corners that are ready to fill in at any moment. I believe in the back end we’re pretty good.”

The senior Scarfone echoed the assessment of Hawkins and once again, depth remains the biggest strength in the ECU secondary in the mind of the players.

“We have some ball players back there,” Scarfone said. “We’re going to make a lot of plays we’re going to play smart. This year we have a lot of depth that we haven’t had in a while.”

Lennon added, “We’re very good. We’re really fast at the corner and safety position and we’re deep as well. As a core I think we’re looking really good but we’ll see when it comes to be game time.”

Last season, the Pirate defense finished 98th in the nation in passing yards allowed, which isn’t entirely surprising given the increased attention to stopping the run, but the secondary struggles culminated in the senior night-spoiling Hail Mary allowed to UCF. But the Pirates haven’t lost much in the defensive backfield and an influx of senior experience could lead to a new and improved looking pass defense.

“We have to make plays,” Lennon said about key improvements that need to be made. “We were in a good position last year to make plays and sometimes we made them and other times we didn’t so I think that’s going to be the key for us.”

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