Published 1:25 am Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The honeymoon is over.
East Carolina University head football coach Skip Holtz made it clear Monday that Pirate starters will have to step up to the plate and perform or they will lose their jobs. Perhaps at the top of that list are punter Matt Dodge and kicker Ben Hartman.
Hartman is 2-for-6 in field goals this year, including a missed opportunity in the loss against the University of Southern Mississippi. Dodge has been inconsistent, Holtz said.
Hartman’s only job security could be in kicking extra points. In that area, he’s eight-for-eight this season and a perfect 17-for-17 for his career. But when it comes to field goals, he’s six-for-11 in two seasons.
00020000052E00000593528,Paderick is a red-shirt freshman from Sanford. At Lee County High School, he hit 100 of 111 extra point attempts and had nine field goals over three years. Dodge, a sophomore transfer from Appalachian State University, was a two-time all-state kicker at West Carteret High School. He saw action in three ECU games last year.
The kicking change was in the works even during Saturday’s game against USM. Before the rest of the Pirates returned at halftime, Dodge and others were taking practice kicks on the field as soon as the bands cleared the field.
The Mountaineers (3-0) are ranked fifth in the nation by both USA Today and The Associated Press.
00020000075300000ABB74D,While critical of some aspects of the Pirates’ performance, Holtz praised the team Monday for its effort against the Golden Eagles.
Following West Virginia, the Pirates must play Conference USA champion Houston on the road. Last week’s foe, USM was the C-USA eastern division champion and two of the first four games are against nationally ranked opponents.
Special teams provided a boost for the Pirates last week, and Holtz said that will be necessary again this Saturday in a game to be televised by ESPN-2.