ECU football holds first scrimmage

Published 1:15 pm Monday, April 6, 2009

By By GREG KATSKI, Staff Writer
GREENVILLE — Hard hits and dropped balls highlighted the East Carolina football squad’s first scrimmage of the spring season.
The 2009 edition of the Pirates picked up where the 2008 team left off, coughing up the ball several times on offense in key situations, highlighted by a fumble recovery by defensive tackle Linval Joseph inside the 10-yard line.
Senior quarterback Rob Kass, who led his unit to the only score of the scrimmage, echoed his coach’s sentiments.
The 2008 Pirates lost to Kentucky, 19-25, in the Liberty Bowl on a fumble recovery taken 56 yards to the house by Wildcats defensive lineman Ventrell Jenkins.
Turnovers and poor ball-handling aside, Holtz was pleased with his team’s showing.
The coach admitted that he was as anxious as his players to hit Bagwell Field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for the scrimmage.
The scrimmage, which included game officials and consisted of 15 eight-play possessions, featured plenty of contact.
The Pirates were led on defense by sophomore safety Julian Carter, who had 14 tackles. Fellow underclassmen tackle Allen Crowder and end Maurice Mercer combined for 14 tackles, five for a loss of yards, and two sacks.
While underclassmen dominated the defensive stats, Eskridge was proud of the Pirate seniors.
Senior quarterbacks Patrick Pinkney and Kass led ECU’s top two offensive units.
Pinkney had three completions over 30 yards, while Kass completed four of his last five passes for 37 yards during the scrimmage’s lone touchdown drive.
Pinkney attributed his unit’s success at moving the ball to a stout, veteran offensive line.
The offensive lines on each squad helped open up holes for the Pirates’ running backs, including sophomore transfer Brandon Jackson, senior J.R. Rogers and senior walk-on Darnell Ballard, who had the only score of the game. The backs combined for 116 yards on the ground.
Ballard, who had 31 yards on 10 carries, was commended by his coaches and teammates for his toughness.
Holtz said the scrimmage gave his coaching staff a chance to evaluate individuals and develop a two-deep depth chart going into the season.
Holtz said his staff will release an initial depth chart this week, most likely following the Pirates’ next scrimmage on Wednesday.
More important to the head coach was the absence of serious injuries suffered during the scrimmage. ECU has been plagued by the injury bug since the middle of last season, and a handful of players on both sides of the ball are continuing to recover from injuries sustained during the year.
"Anytime you can go through a scrimmage like this and come out healthy, it is huge,” Holtz said.