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Verity, Pirates kick through pressure

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East Carolina's Jake Verity (9) kicks against Houston at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium last season.

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BY RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Friday, March 22, 2019

Operation time by the East Carolina football specialists was put to the test Friday.

From long snappers to traditional offensive linemen and field goal holder Jonn Young and starting kicker Jake Verity, the Pirates have pressured that group this week, especially Friday. Coach Mike Houston said the group succeeded under the circumstances.

“I was real pleased at the end with how we competed with our field goal and field goal block, when it was live,” Houston said of Friday morning’s workout for ECU to complete a full week of five spring practices. “I was disappointed with the way we went after it Wednesday, because what we are trying to teach them is to go after each other and if our defense does not come after that kick hard, then our protection is not being tested.

“We have to stress each other and push each other as hard as we can. Otherwise, we are getting false evaluations and thinking we are doing a great job in protection. ... That is one example of one thing we did better today.”

Another kicker in spring camp is Patrick Nations, who signed with East Carolina in December out of Walhalla (S.C.) High School. He is expected to redshirt behind rising senior Verity.

“He had one day where he was a little off, but other than that, he has been really solid,” Houston said of Verity this spring. “I thought Jake did an excellent job today against a live rush. With the operation time that we had today, it was almost impossible to (block) the kick off the edge.”

In addition to serving as the holder, Young is returning as ECU’s top punter.

Return men during practice have included shifty receiver Tyler Snead, who will be a redshirt freshman this year after making a difference in four games late in the season in 2018. 

Verity was one of the AAC’s top kickers a year ago in his junior season, finishing 19-for-21 on field goals with a long of 52 yards. He was a perfect 7-for-7 during the team’s four nonconference games.

The Pirates will hold an important practice Saturday. The team will shift to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for a practice that will include officials.

“There will be some live competitions and I want to see progress,” Houston said of what to expect in Dowdy-Ficklen, which is still in its remodeling stage on the south side of the stadium. “We have not done inside run and team competition since Monday, because we really focused on a lot of fundamental work and tackling and blocking on Wednesday and today. Tomorrow we will get a chance to evaluate ourselves again, and I’m excited to see how we do.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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