March 30, 2012
GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina officially completed preparations for the program's first intra-squad scrimmage of the season with a shells-only workout on Hight Field inside the Cliff Moore Practice Complex Friday afternoon.
The session was ECU's seventh of the spring period and leaves just eight more to go, including the annual Purple-Gold Spring Game set for April 14.
Unlike the majority of past spring contests, third-year head coach Ruffin McNeill is planning to keep Saturday's version short with only 40-to-50 scripted plays to address situational work. The Pirates will observe a split schedule in the morning, conducting individual and special teams drills at the practice complex before moving over to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for a skeleton segment and the scrimmage. On the other hand, the game will feature a full officiating crew and game-day head-set communication from the pressbox to field level between McNeill, coordinators Brian Mitchell (defense) and Lincoln Riley (offense), and other coaches similar to previous seasons.
"Our continued development with an emphasis on fundamentals and schematic installation has been our top priority and objective so far this spring," McNeill said. "With that said, I feel this particular team has benefitted significantly from that approach and those elements remain critical to our growth.
"While I'm looking forward to seeing us play in a live competitive environment, we're at a stage where fundamental attention on all three sides of the ball and the continued installation, most notably on our special teams unit, need as many reps as possible."
During the Pirates' 11-on-11 team session Friday, where focus was placed on first down calls for both the offense and defense, junior Rio Johnson stepped back into the quarterback rotation and completed 12-of-16 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Shane Carden connected on all six of his pass attempts and recorded the longest toss of the afternoon by finding Derrick Harris with a 23-yarder.
ECU's defense kept the pressure consistent as freshmen linemen Johnathon White and Terrell Stanley, along with junior outside linebacker Derrell Johnson and senior outside linebacker Chris Baker, each recorded stops that resulted in lost yardage. Johnson also netted the day's only turnover, recovering a fumble during the early stages of the action.
After the completion of Saturday's scrimmage, which is closed to the public, ECU will take Sunday off before opening its third week of work Monday, April 2.
NOTES: Freshman IR Donte Sumpter (right knee), freshman OLB Montese Overton (illness) and senior ILB Daniel Drake (illness) will be sidelined for Saturday's scrimmage ... Sophomore DE Chrishon Rose's (ankle) status is questionable after missing the last three workouts ... Over 100 coaches representing high school programs in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia arrived on campus Thursday night to participate in ECU's three-day coaching clinic, which feature offensive, defensive and strength/speed presentations by all members of the Pirate staff, including Assistant AD for Strength and Conditioning Jeff Connors ... In addition to observing Friday's practice, the high school coaches will also be in attendance during Saturday's contest.
EAST CAROLINA'S 2012 SPRING PRACTICE SCHEDULE
Next Workout: Saturday, March 31 (10:30-11:30 a.m./practice complex, 11:30-12:45 p.m./Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium)
Remaining Workouts: April 2, April 4, April 6, April 7 (scrimmage), April 9, April 11 and April 14 (Purple-Gold Game, 2:30 p.m.)