Offensive Line Lacks Stability

Against Virginia Tech, East Carolina had its first 100-yard rusher since the opening game against Towson. Although the offensive line showed improvement, injuries continue to plague the Pirates upfront.

In two games, against Florida and Navy, East Carolina totaled 67 yards on the ground. Against Virginia Tech the Pirates rushed for 182 yards. While all the attention went to the 169 yards rushing of quarterback James Summers, players and coaches gave plenty of credit to the offensive line.

Although the offensive line was coming off two poor rushing performances and battling injuries, they bounced back with a good game against Virginia Tech. The Pirates averaged 4.2 yards-per-carry and scored three touchdowns on the ground. Head coach Ruffin McNeill and Summers praised the offensive line after the game.

Heading into Dallas, Texas to play against Southern Methodist, ECU will potentially be without two of their opening-day starters on the offensive line. Center C.J. Sturyk is already declared out for this weekend and right tackle Donate Levingston is questionable.

Brandon Smith started in place of Levingston against Virginia Tech and will start his fourth straight game at right tackle if Levingston cannot participate. But there is still some uncertainty who will play center against the Mustangs.

J.T. Boyd practiced at center during the summer but has been at right guard so far this season. With the injury to Sturyk, Boyd will move to center. Christian Matau is penciled in to be the right guard again this week but could also play center. After missing almost two full seasons because of a left knee injury, Matau has found a spot in the rotation.

“Everybody earns their way, he’s earned it,” said McNeill. “At practice and in games he continues to earn it. He can play center and guard, and you might see him at center this week. But he’s earned it.”

Making a transition from guard to center, Boyd will be taking on more responsibilities at center. Boyd was practiced at center his redshirt year and did some work there over this past summer. His technique will need to change but Boyd is comfortable at center.

“I did that my redshirt year and practiced it some over the summer too,” said Boyd. “So it isn’t too much of a shock but I just have to switch my technique up in the run and pass game.”

Boyd is also comfortable with the other four lining up next to him. The offensive line has not had much stability the past few weeks but Boyd feels good about the starting five.

“We’ve looked good,” said Boyd. “We’ve been working on it every day, everybody’s getting better every day. Coach Davis is doing a great job in getting our fundamentals and technique working every day. We’re using our individual periods to the maximum and we’re getting ready day-by-day attacking the process.”

This weekend the Pirates will face a much easier rush defense. The Mustangs are ranked 124th out of 127 teams in rush yards allowed per game so far this season.

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