April 10, 2012
In the third installment of a four-part series that offers an up-close and personal look at the quartet of Pirates competing for the starting quarterback position this spring, staff writer Sam Hickman visits with sophomore Shane Carden. His exchanges with senior Brad Wornick and junior Rio Johnson were presented last week, while redshirt freshman Cody Keith will be featured Friday.
GREENVILLE, N.C. - Shane Carden is familiar with the spread attack.
The California native and Texas prep standout enjoyed a decorated career at Episcopal High School in Houston, where he twice earned all-state honors and helped orchestrate a program revival that included a 10-1 record as a senior. He was also tutored by record-setting former Texas Tech signal-caller B.J. Symons, who thrived in the same system East Carolina has employed under third-year offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley.
Before being edged slightly by Rio Johnson during fall camp in a tightly-contested competition for No. 2 on last year's depth chart, Carden shined during 2011 spring workouts. In three April scrimmages, the competitive right-hander totaled three touchdown passes and completed nearly 70 percent of his tosses.
He was on a similar pace this spring before suffering a right index finger injury during practice on April 2 that temporarily slowed his progress by forcing him to the sidelines for the remainder of drills. Early indications by ECU's medical personnel are favorable for a return to a full-time throwing regimen as early as next month.
SH: Can you offer some insight as to what the coaching staff is looking for this spring as it seeks to name a starting quarterback before fall camp begins?
SC: "Right now, the coaches are looking for someone that is going to lead this offense and take control when the game is on the line. They want someone who will take care of the ball - we can't have turnovers. Coach Riley wants us all to be accountable to the team and to the offense. He wants someone who is there on time and doing what he has to do to win this job. I think those are some of the expectations - there are plenty."
SH: Of course, you're all competitors and want to be named the starter. At the same time, you're all teammates and want to see East Carolina win games. Can you describe that competitive atmosphere and the mental approach you take day-in and day-out?
SC: "We're all friends. We all get along real well off the field. Once practice starts, it's all about competition with those guys. We talk to each other while we're out there to try to pick up on new things. We'll talk about what we see in the defense and things like that. It's just going to make whoever gets the spot that much better since we're pushing each other play-by-play. We're all trying to lead this offense on scoring drives. It's healthy."
SH: Do you draw from the 2011 spring workout period in which you were in a tight competition with Rio Johnson for the No. 2 spot to help you this season?
SC: "Yes, a little bit. Spring ball is very important in developing and what not, but it's not everything. You take what you learn in the spring and carry it into the summer. Then, you take what you learn in the summer and carry it into the fall. When the games start, we have to be ready to go. Decisions will be made for whoever the starter will be, so I can't ever be complacent in my development. I just have to keep working and keep grinding."
SH: What were your individual goals for the practice period before you suffered the injury?
SC: "Last year, I was on the scout team and didn't get a lot of snaps. Now that I had the chance to get those reps, I treated those like game reps and tried to just keep building on that. Every time I went out there, I wanted to learn this offense more and know it like the back of my hand. That was my overall goal for the spring individually. I just wanted to keep competing and getting better at my craft. I couldn't look over and worry about what the other guys are doing without making sure that I was making myself a better player or a better quarterback. The results will take care of themselves."
Extra Points with Shane Carden
Favorite food: Steak
What's on the iPod: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Classic Rock, Rap (a little bit), that's about everything.
Favorite class taken at East Carolina: Sports Psychology. You learn all about the coaching side of things. As players, we learn how the coaches try to prepare and how we should prepare. It's cool finding out more about stress and how it affects us - things like that.
Most memorable football moment: The competition. I'm competing for a Division I starting quarterback job. If you can't get up for this, then something must be wrong.
Most embarrassing moment at ECU: None that I can share.
Thing you miss the most about home: Barbeque, definitely the barbeque.
Lincoln's (Riley) Labels: Competitor, gritty