Four Downs: Navy

Annapolis, M.D. -- East Carolina falls to Navy in the conference opener. Inside ECU Sports provides the game's four biggest story lines.

First Down: Triple-Option Proved to be too much

As expected Navy’s triple-option came out of the gate strong against East Carolina Saturday afternoon. In total, Navy’s offense gained 456-yards. 415 of those yards came on the ground as Navy’s fifth year senior Kennan Reynolds lead the way with 153-yards and five touchdowns.

Defensive coordinator Rick Smith felt like his team was well prepared for the quick paced offense and felt that his team could make the in game adjustments they needed. In the third quarter ECU did record back-to-back stops and held the Midshipmen to 75 rushing yards in the quarter, the fewest of the four quarters but was not enough to stay in the game.

Navy’s well known offense has defeated the Pirates in four of the five games between the two schools dating back to 2006.

Second Down: Kemp’s Leadership is there

Coming into the third game of the season Blake Kemp’s ability to the lead the Pirates was highly questionable. Although the team suffered their second straight loss, Blake Kemp showed that he was the leader on the field.

In post-game interviews Kemp took responsibility for the loss and said that he didn’t make all of the plays he had to make to win the game. Ruffin McNeill noted that Kemp’s leadership has shinned since he has taken the starting role and that he holds himself accountable for the entire team and he is learning from all of things that have happened.

Kemp recorded 36 of 49 pass attempts but for the second week in a row, Kemp threw one interception. It was again on a pass attempt to his 6-foot-6 target Bryce Williams but under-threw him. With Kemp’s arm strength in question he did record multiple passes of 15-yards or more.

From the eyes perspective looking across the field it was clear that this games was Kemp’s to win or lose. James Summers who saw limited action last week in Florida did not warm up on the sideline at any point in the game.

Third Down: Receiving core shows up

With the team’s leading rusher Chris Hairston struggling to get in a groove for the second week in a row the pressure fell on the receiving core.

Lead by junior Isaiah Jones, who recorded ten catches, ECU’s receiving core proved that the bread and butter of ECU football would remain the passing game. Bryce Williams also showed his versatility once again, rather in the slot, on the end of the line or in a back position as a lead blocker Williams had success all game long.

McNeill said in his post-game comments that Jones and Williams are playing like “man-child’s” at a higher level.

Although ECU dropped multiple passes in the game that could have caught, overall the receivers played well and were able to run their routes to create space and get open. Catching the passes should be taken care of as the season progresses and more chemistry is built but the foundation is there for ECU receiver’s to have a breakout year.

Fourth Down: Get ready for more tough opponents

Facing a uniquely talented Navy team ECU struggled to find a stop to Navy’s offense while the offense didn’t capitalize on every opportunity they had in the game. ECU will turn around as they head home for the first home game in three weeks to host another talented school.

The schedule will only get tougher in week four as Virginia Tech coming to Greenville looking for revenge from the Pirate’s road victory in Lane Stadium last season. After Virginia Tech, ECU will have back-to-back road trips to different time zones. SMU was able to put 37 points on the board in a loss against No. 3 TCU this weekend while the BYU Cougars fell on the road at UCLA.

With two more tough non-conference opponents ECU will learn a lot more about themselves in the next three weeks.

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