Carden continues to growPublished 3:56pm Tuesday, December 11, 2012
GREENVILLE — East Carolina’s season started out with major questions surrounding the quarterback position, but as it draws near the end the only question left is just how good can Shane Carden be.
Carden, the Pirates 6-2, 218-pound redshirt sophomore, began the year not even sure if he would ever step on the field as he lost a hotly contested preseason battle to junior Rio Johnson. Fast forward a few months and Carden has thrown for 2,838 yards and 21 touchdowns and received honorable mention All-Conference USA honors, while Johnson is receiving invites to play at a new school.
Carden punctuated his wild regular season with what might be his best performance of the year against Marshall as he completed 38 of his 47 passes for a career-high 439 yards and no interceptions, while accounting for six touchdowns in ECU’s 65-59 double-overtime victory over the Thundering Herd.
An outing like that would have been hard to imagine after watching him get sacked seven times during a 124-yard performance in the Pirates’ Week 4 loss to North Carolina.
Carden inherited the Pirates starting QB job in Week 3 and after the offense stagnated against the Tar Heels ECU appeared to be headed down QB Controversy Lane as its Air Raid offense ranked 76th in the nation (217.5 yards per game) and was scoring a mere 18.8 points per outing, which ranked 110th in the FBS.
My how things have changed.
East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill and offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley remained dedicated to Carden and the move paid off.
With Carden leading the offense, the Pirates’ passing attack climbed 41 spots and is currently ranked 35th in the nation (272.8), while ECU’s point production has nearly doubled. The Pirates head into their R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl matchup with the University of Louisiana-Lafayette scoring 31.2 points per contest, which is the 46th best total in the country.
Carden’s belief in himself grew with each outing and culminated into an incredible game-tying 76-yard drive in the final minutes of regulation against Marshall that included a clutch pass to Justin Hardy on 4th-and-10 situation.
The key for Carden was a shift in mindset from being a game-manager in his first start against Southern Miss to a game-winner against Marshall.
“When I first came in I was just thinking, “Hey, let’s just not turn the ball over,’” Carden said. “Then it came to, ‘Let’s not turn the ball over, but let’s take shots when we can.’ (I’ve improved at) knowing the situations where it it’s ok to throw deep here or take a shot there. Interceptions are going to happen. Obviously you don’t want them but you have to take a shot when you can take it and that’s the thing that I have kind of adjusted to.”
Next, Carden will take a shot at trying to deliver East Carolina its first bowl victory since 2007.