Loading...
Bless the heart of Bill Redding, who stood up at the public hearing on rezoning lots for parking spaces east of ECU...

SUMMERS: Youth being served

111217ECUfootball-3.jpg

East Carolina's Hussein Howe, right, runs the ball during their game against Tulane on Nov. 11, 2017. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

Loading…

By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Monday, November 13, 2017

What began when the weather was still raging hot with early September sun continued into the first true November chill on Saturday night for East Carolina football.

But for the first time since the season began in that summer steam with an upset loss to James Madison, this eighth setback of a painful season hurt in a new and different sort of way. The two-win Pirates were making their own steam as they walked, shocked, off the field in the cold after a 31-24 overtime loss to Tulane.

The Green Wave's defensive front turned tsunami on the last of a dizzying amount of pivotal fourth down plays in the game, crashing into the ECU offensive line on fourth-and-goal from the 1 and washing over freshman running back Darius Pinnix to end the game just one step away from another shot at a third win.

That's right. A true freshman had the ball with the game on the line in overtime. And while the up-the-gut play call might be up for argument among postgame pundits, putting the game in the hands of a rookie was very likely the right call.

Within a few confused seconds, Tulane's on-field celebrations were audible as another small ECU crowd left in a rush. As the lingering smoke from another empty-sounding postgame cannon blast echoed across Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and the steam from another night lost for the ECU players drifted skyward with it, this team's true identity was revealed.

The problems are many, but the possible solutions are equally abundant.

While it is certain to be a final season of disappointment for senior players who were asked to invest themselves into two very different coaching philosophies during their careers, the inevitable influx of freshmen and sophomores into prominent roles has already changed the face of the team.

Whether or not they too get lost in transition is on them.

Smartly, dynamic sophomore tailback Hussein Howe and the powerful Pinnix have largely taken over the ECU rush the second half of the season, part of a crew of now 24 first-time starters for the Pirates.

They are the immediate future of ECU football.

Howe authored one of the only moments of athletic brilliance the team has seen in the run game this year. His hard right turn into the middle of the field and gravity-defying balance in breaking a tackle before collapsing into the end zone for the team's second touchdown was a picture in determination that bodes well for his future and maybe his team's also.

No matter what changes, or not, the offseason will bring to the team now adrift in a three-year bowl absence, the underclassmen steadily taking the reins will be asked to carry the team for a while.

In a sense, this rendition of Pirates was also lost in transfer.

Part of the Pirates' solution that is also part of their problem is the high level of short-term players brought in to fill specific needs but who are a costly gamble if they don't work out right away. Some, like linebacker Cannon Gibbs, have proven their worth right away. Others have proven to still be works in progress, possibly limiting the growth of younger, potentially long-term players.

Those four- and five-year players are the only chance the Pirates have in recreating themselves as a winner, so they might as well know what it's like to have the game in their hands. More players like Howe and Pinnix must play their way into prominence at their positions, and quickly.

The passage of time can seem cruelly quick in college sports. Even with youth on their side, players like Howe already are nearing the midway point in their careers.

The clock is always ticking and the ECU football team is in desperate need of a long-term identity.

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com, 252-329-9595 and follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

ECU

August 14, 2018

Dave Hart’s role as special athletics adviser to East Carolina Chancellor Cecil Staton has been extended through football season, in part because of the difficulties the Pirates are facing financially as they prepare for another scholastic and athletics year.

Hart’s original six-month…

081518HART-1.jpg

August 14, 2018

A theme from Saturday’s East Carolina football scrimmage continued Tuesday when the Pirates began their final week of preseason camp and coach Scottie Montgomery said the defense was overall more productive than the offense.

Part of it was because of the defense winning a lot of battles in…

081218ECUfootball-1.jpg

August 14, 2018

Jack Reinheimer is with the New York Mets, giving East Carolina two former players currently on active Major League Baseball rosters. Pitcher Mike Wright (Baltimore Orioles) is the other player.

Former ECU pitcher Jharel Cotton is on the Oakland Athletics’ 40-man roster, but not active as he…

021613ecubaseball4_0.jpg

August 14, 2018

Of all the statistics that doomed East Carolina’s football team in 2017, and on defense in particular, a glaring disparity was that ECU scored 31 points off turnovers and opponents finished with 121.

Third-year head coach Scottie Montgomery has stressed for ECU defenders to be more aggressive…

081218ECUfootball-7.jpg

August 13, 2018

East Carolina connecting on deep passes Saturday during a preseason scrimmage was sometimes directly tied to quarterback scrambles.

There were no quarterback-designed runs as suggested by the coaching staff to protect the passers from injury, but the ECU trio of Reid Herring, Holton Ahlers and…

081218ECUfootball-4.jpg

August 11, 2018

It remains difficult for East Carolina’s offense to run against the ECU defensive front, which led to the team airing it out Saturday during the first scrimmage of the preseason.

Defensive backs and receivers battled for the football often to highlight the 100-plus play scrimmage at Dowdy-…

081218ECUfootball-9.jpg

August 11, 2018

There is no question that Trevon Brown is East Carolina’s best receiver, and big production will be needed out of him again for the Pirates to reach their goal of making a bowl game, but opportunity also remains behind Brown.

Brown is a senior and bound to see double-teams and plenty of…

080818ECUfootball-11.jpg

August 10, 2018

ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton has requested an independent audit of the university’s athletic department in hopes of putting to rest continuing concerns raised about the financial health of the Pirates’ sports program.

Staton told The Daily Reflector in a conversation Wednesday he…

100817ECUfootball-5.jpg (1).jpg

August 10, 2018

It is not only Kendall Futrell’s frame or his bulging upper-body muscles or his speed that has East Carolina football coaches excited about Futrell’s junior season.

There is the factor of new defensive coordinator David Blackwell and his schemes, but also head coach Scottie…

091717ECUfootball-9.jpg

August 08, 2018

Peyton Winstead and Garrett McGhin are often directly beside each other to the form the right side of the top offensive line during East Carolina football practices.

They can blend together at times with their similar frames and more similar hairstyle of dark curls flowing out of the back of their…

080818ECUfootball-6.jpg
180 stories in ECU. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 18
        Next Page»   Last Page»