Young Pirates Turn In First Scrimmage
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Aug. 11, 2007
GREENVILLE, N.C. - Redshirt freshman Norman Whitley and true freshman Jonathan Williams keyed a hard-charging rushing attack while sophomore quarterbacks Rob Kass and Brett Clay turned in similar performances during East Carolina's first intra-squad scrimmage of preseason camp Saturday afternoon at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
The controlled contest, which was played in pleasant conditions under cloudy skies with temperatures in the upper 80s, consisted of approximately 70 plays solely featuring either underclassmen, newcomers to the Pirate program or lower levels of the program's preseason depth chart.
In addition to participating in a regularly scheduled 60-minute practice prior to the scrimmage, the ECU veterans' only other work came during a pair of two-minute drill possessions held separately from the scrimmage.
"I was pleased with the scrimmage, effort, attitude and the way they ran around and hit," third-year head coach Skip Holtz said. "This was like spring practice in that every play there is a winner and a loser. You get excited about a big play with the offense and then you say that was our safety that missed the tackle and vice-versa.
"This wasn't a scrimmage to find out where our offense and defense is at - 19 guys didn't play today," Holtz continued. "The scrimmage was designed to see who was going to compete for the two-deep. We're going to look at the film and see who we are going to work with and see who's going to redshirt."
Whitley (8-91), Williams (10-69), Brandon Simmons (2-46) and six others combined for 239 rushing yards on 37 attempts, an average of 6.4 yards per carry. Including a combined 13-of-25, 193-yard passing effort by four signal-callers, the Pirates' offensive unit averaged nearly seven yards a play by picking up a total of 432 yards in 62 snaps.
"Just watching, I thought Jonathan Williams ran hard as did Norman Whitley, Brandon Simmons and J.R. Rogers," Holtz added. "Those are four guys that are competing for a spot on the bus this year and that doesn't include Chris Johnson and Dominique Lindsay. It's going to be a tough decision over the next few days with all the talent that we have in the backfield."
Kass guided the first newcomer unit, Clay directed the No. 2 group while junior Patrick Pinkney and redshirt freshman Dwayne Harris each took turns leading the Pirates' third squad. Kass completed seven-of-12 passes for 92 yards and suffered an interception while Clay was five-of-nine for 86 yards and accounted for the game's only offensive touchdown by connecting with junior college transfer T.J. Lee on a 43-yard scoring strike. Both quarterbacks also accounted for a team-high eight first downs each
Other than Clay's scoring pass and a 37-yard Ben Hartman field goal, ECU's defense kept the offense out of the endzone and recorded a pair of turnovers. Senior linebacker Durwin Lamb returned the game's only fumble recovery 19 yards and sophomore safety Van Eskridge netted the scrimmage's only interception and added a three-yard return. Sophomore safety Chris Mattocks also recorded a pass theft, his coming during the separate two-minute drills off a Kass pass which he returned 55 yards for a touchdown.
Sophomore linebacker Lorenzo Osborne led a defensive effort with eight stops while junior linebacker Dalvon Mack added four tackles. True freshman defensive back Matt Thompson and sophomore linebacker Jeremy Chambliss logged the game's only two sacks.
The Pirates will take a day off from the field Sunday before returning to Hight Field inside the Cliff Moore Practice Complex Monday for their second two-a-day schedule of camp. ECU will conduct the pair of workouts beginning at 8:35 a.m. and 8:05 p.m.