Offense Still Finding its Identity
Three games into the 2015 season, East Carolina still has many questions that have not been answered. The option of a second quarterback, a struggling running attack and the return of a playmaker are just a few questions that remain to be resolved. Blake Kemp has thrown for over 300 yards and three touchdowns in his past two starts. He also has turned the ball over five times in two starts. Continuing to learn the offense, James Summers’ chances of playing increase each week. Summers started a couple series against Florida, but did not see the field in Annapolis against the Midshipmen. This week, head coach Ruffin McNeil wants to make an effort to get Summers in the game, but offensive coordinator Dave Nichol still does not know how they will use the him. “Not sure yet,” said Nichol “But he’s continuing to rep a little bit and is just getting through what maybe would be a fall camp. But not really because you practice every day in camp and during the season it gets a little condensed. But he’s doing fine.” The progress of the two quarterbacks has been stunted by the lack of a running game to support them. Since the four touchdown performance in the season opener against Towson, the Pirates have combined for a total of 67 rushing yards the next two weeks. Running backs coach Kirk Doll is getting back to the basics with his running backs. “We have to improve a lot in understanding where the ball is supposed to be run and making the right cut, but they’re working hard at it,” said Doll. Even if the Pirates improve rushing the ball, the results may not be obvious. Virginia Tech’s defense brings many challenges to the running game. Despite scoring 28 points last season against Virginia Tech, ECU only mustered 75 yards on the ground. Another challenge Virginia Tech’s defense brings is the talent in its secondary. Kendall Fuller is the last of his brothers to play cornerback at Virginia Tech. Like his brothers, he is also a highly touted corner. Nichol believes that Fuller and the rest of the secondary may be the best they play all season. “Probably the best we seen,” said Nichol “Hargreaves obviously didn’t play against us in Florida, but those guys are really good. Fuller is a really good player for them and I think he compares with Hargreaves in Florida. Last year in pregame looking at them, they’re long, physical guys. They’ll, if not the best group we play this year on the back end, be equal [to Florida].” But facing a tough defense, like Virginia Tech, is nothing new for the Pirates. The defenses of Navy and Florida are both ranked in the top 25 in points allowed per game. Now ECU will have to face a historically good Virginia Tech defense. “We’re looking forward to it,” said Bryce Williams. “Seeing something different, we like challenges and were not going to worry about anything. We’re just going to go out and play our game.” Williams and Isaiah Jones have been carrying the load through the air combining for 38 receptions for 395 yards and four touchdowns. This week the Pirates will get back the 6-foot-3 Trevon Brown. Suspended for the first three games, Brown has returned to the practice field and is competing with the other receivers for playing time. “We’ll see how the competition goes this week,” said Nichol. “We have a bunch of guys step up in his absence, so we’ll definitely see how that plays out.”
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