Pirates evaluating at halfway point
By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector
Monday, October 7, 2019
Halfway through its season and with all American Athletic Conference games remaining, East Carolina’s football team is 3-3 overall and will use a bye this week in part to evaluate personnel and schemes.
The Pirates hosted Temple last Thursday night, losing 27-17, and do not play again until a league game at UCF on Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. ECU is 0-2 in the AAC, losing to Temple and Navy, defeats that first-year Pirate coach Mike Houston wants to use to help create winning results during the second half of the year.
“Coming into this fall, the only thing I had seen and our staff had seen was us against us,” Houston said Monday during the AAC coaches teleconference. “Now we are six games in, two in the American conference, and we have seen our personnel performing against some of the better personnel in this league. Now I think we have a better idea of what we can and can’t do.”
ECU scored first against Temple, receiving the opening kickoff and using 12 plays to march 90 yards and get into the end zone on Holton Ahlers’ 14-yard pass to C.J. Johnson. Ahlers also connected with Johnson for a fourth-quarter TD.
Ahlers and the ECU offense played a turnover-free game, but the Owls (4-1, 1-0) rode 490 yards of offense and a 17-point second quarter to beat the upset-minded Pirates.
Temple quarterback Anthony Russo finished 23-of-34 for 208 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. Ahlers was 19-for-39 for 229 yards and two TDs, his longest pass a 37-yarder to Jsi Hatfield. Johnson and Hatfield are both freshmen.
“(Ahlers) played a pretty solid game against Temple,” Houston said. “He will see the film this afternoon when we watch as a team after the Thursday night game and fall break. He still has to stay in there and play within the scheme at times ... but I do think he played better last Thursday night than he did the previous Saturday.”
After traveling to UCF, the Pirates will play South Florida and Cincinnati, which is ranked No. 25 by The Associated Press this week, at home.
“I am pleased with some of the progress we continue to see from week to week, and I do think we are improving,” Houston said. “We were facing a (Temple) team that obviously is playing at a very high level. We just made too many mistakes to win the ball game, but in this league every week we are going to see a very talented roster and a tremendous challenge. The bye week comes probably at a pretty good time, six games in sitting at 3-3.”
Contact Ronnie Woodward at email@example.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.