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I got the surprise of my life when people were complaining about a DR editorial. You mean the BYH column is not the...

Ahlers uses summer months to prepare, watch film

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ECU quarterback Holton Ahlers, back, looks downfield during a spring scrimmage.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Many East Carolina football fans know what Holton Ahlers will be doing in August and the ensuing months as the Pirates’ sophomore projected starting quarterback.

Others fans might have noticed the Greenville native was an ardent ECU baseball fan in June, but in July, he and other Pirate leaders are often seen in the Murphy Center or on ECU practice fields directing unique summer workouts.

“It’s kind of like the off month for the coaches to be in and out and doing stuff, so it is mostly player-run,” Ahlers said of July. “We lift and run in the morning, then will watch film together and go out there and do 7-on-7 and 1-on-1 stuff. It can be just like practice, but there are no coaches and we are running it.”

ECU begins preseason camp on Aug. 2 under first-year Pirate coach Mike Houston after a winning three-year stint at James Madison.

In addition to scheduled workouts, Ahlers said the summer is an ideal time to prepare for the preseason by watching game film. That film, however, is not strictly limited to Pirate games from 2018.

“Every day, you are trying to learn more and more through the offense, so I am watching a lot of JMU from last year and seeing how they ran plays and seeing protections,” Ahlers said. “I do also watch myself a lot from last year, just to pick up on new things and a lot of coverage. I’ve watched N.C. State, because obviously that is our first (opponent), but I just change it up every day and learn something every day.

“Some days, like if I’m focusing on protections, I won’t even watch the play but I’ll look for pre-blitz pick-ups and what I would do and stuff like that.”

The Pirates’ first four games are at N.C. State, versus Gardner-Webb, at Navy and home against William & Mary. They will be looking for a solid start to a new season to help shake off three straight 3-9 records from 2016-18 and plenty of struggles in the American Athletic Conference. Many summer projections call for UCF and Cincinnati to be the leaders in the AAC East Division for the second straight year.

Houston came to East Carolina in December with an 80-25 career record from his years at Lenoir-Rhyne, The Citadel and JMU.

ECU’s new coach and seniors Alex Turner and Deondre Farrier will be in Rhode Island on Monday and Tuesday for American Athletic Conference media days.

“(Houston) is intense and he doesn’t let a lot of stuff, or anything, get through,” Ahlers said. “He’s intense and he focuses on the details, which is what we need here.”

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

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@HumansofGville

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

ECU

August 24, 2019

Here’s our East Carolina beat writer Ronnie Woodward’s shot at ECU football’s starting lineup against N.C. State. First-year Pirate coach Mike Houston should be releasing the team’s Week 1 depth chart Tuesday during his news conference.

Here it is:

OFFENSE

QB -- Holton…

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August 24, 2019

First-year East Carolina football coach Mike Houston has mainly established his starters and is in the fine-tuning phase of August as the noon kickoff against N.C. State in Raleigh is exactly one week away.

ECU was established as a 17-point underdog to the Wolfpack and has the task of trying to…

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August 24, 2019

East Carolina begins its first season under coach Mike Houston one week from today and is aiming to finish better than its three straight 3-9 records from 2016-18. The Pirates haven’t had a winning record since going 8-5 in 2014 under Ruffin McNeill.

Where are the wins in this year’s…

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August 24, 2019

New East Carolina football players reported to preseason camp on Aug. 1, about eight months after athletics director Jon Gilbert and football coach Mike Houston reported to Greenville as instant leaders of a new era of Pirate athletics.

It is in many ways still a rebuilding project, which Gilbert…

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August 22, 2019

East Carolina’s first athletic event of the academic year started and stopped and continued again and stopped again, then was canceled because of inclement weather.

ECU’s women’s soccer team was not able to finish Thursday night’s match against George Mason, even with the…

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August 22, 2019

First-year East Carolina defensive coordinator Bob Trott and first-year Pirate football head coach Mike Houston were similar with their words Wednesday that they think they know what to expect from N.C. State's offense, but they said preparing for an opponent during Week 1 of the season is…

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August 21, 2019

Many intricacies and focuses for East Carolina football players have changed with Monday's start to the fall semester and the N.C. State game a little more than a week away, but Pirate coach Mike Houston had no plans of intensity dipping with the transition from preseason workouts to in-season and…

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August 20, 2019

No more waiting for Holton Ahlers or the rest of the East Carolina football team or Pirate fans.

With next Saturday’s noon kickoff at N.C. State getting closer and closer, first-year Pirate coach Mike Houston officially announced after Tuesday’s practice that Ahlers will be his…

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August 20, 2019

Quarterback Holton Ahlers led East Carolina’s football team in rushing last season with 592 yards and six touchdowns on 119 carries.

New offensive principles are in place at ECU under a new coaching staff, leading to some intrigue about Ahlers and his run availability. Would this staff, led…

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August 19, 2019

East Carolina first-year football coach Mike Houston described the Pirates' No. 1 center, Branden Pena, as a "tough joker" on Saturday.

The football-centric praise showed how far the relationship has come between Pena and Houston since December.

"Branden Pena is a guy that I didn't know his name…

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