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BYH, have the courage to be disliked....

Pirates fully move to next challenge

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East Carolina offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick, left, talks with quarterback Holton Ahlers after a spring scrimmage on April 6, 2019. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Wednesday was publicly the day that East Carolina’s football representatives were done with talking about the loss to Navy last week.

The Pirates are fully focused on Saturday’s 6 p.m. home kickoff against William & Mary, which for defensive coordinator Bob Trott meant that he mimicked veteran New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick when asked to break down what was glaring from the defense in the Pirates’ 42-10 defeat at Navy last weekend to drop ECU to a 1-2 record and 0-1 in the American Athletic Conference.

“We have moved on,” said Trott, whose NFL coaching experience from the 1990s and 2000s came with the Patriots, Cleveland Browns and New York Giants.

Pirate offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick was more lengthy in explaining ECU’s transition from Navy to the Tribe, which is 2-1 and a Football Championship Subdivision member in the Colonial Athletic Association conference.

“What we’ve concentrated on all week is that you can’t let Navy beat you twice,” Kirkpatrick said. “That is hard to do and it sounds like that makes sense and it’s easy, but it’s hard to do. Either way, if we would have beaten them badly or they beat us badly, we would be doing the same thing on Sunday and same thing on Tuesday and same thing on Wednesday, because you can’t get too high or get too low. You have to go play the next team.”

The Pirates beat FCS opponent Gardner Webb, 48-9, two weeks ago at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

At the forefront of ECU offensive concerns through three games is that quarterback Holton Ahlers has one passing touchdown for the season and one interception in each game. His 2-yard run in the fourth quarter against Navy was the Pirates’ only touchdown, but he was 11-for-23 for 138 yards passing.

ECU punted on four of its first five possessions, including a pair of costly three-and-outs.

“I think he is frustrated a little bit and frustrated in himself because he owns his mistakes, but they are not all his mistakes,” Kirkpatrick said of the sophomore Greenville native QB. “Our problem and the issue is that it is not just one thing. ... It will be one offensive lineman will get beat 1-on-1 and we have a guy open and get pressured so we can’t make the throw. Then the next time, we will block them well and literally the guy would run the wrong route.”

First-year Pirate head coach Mike Houston said veteran players talked to him, as soon as Sunday, about their motivation to rally after the Navy loss and their personal responsibilities to play with better execution. Houston also was pleased with how practices went earlier in the week.

“We had great weather (Wednesday) and guys were zipping around, so we are excited for this game Saturday,” Houston said in his final post-practice comments to the local media for the week. “It is exciting to be back at home. We’ll have a huge crowd here on Saturday.”

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

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