Pirates show improvement|Offense looks sharp in second scrimmage

Published 12:00 pm Sunday, August 22, 2010

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE – The Pirates wrapped up their second scrimmage of the summer on Saturday and in the sequel the offense got much better reviews.
Ruffin McNeill praised the efforts of quarterbacks Dominique Davis, Brad Wornick and Rio Johnson, each of which are locked in a heated battle for the starting job, along with freshman Shane Carden who is viewed as more of a dark horse candidate.
“All three (stood out), really all four because Shane stepped up today in his 20-plus plays,” McNeill said. “Rio did a good job of running the offense and so did Dom and Brad. They all did a really good job, it’s a good group and a good problem to have.”
The Pirates’ passers combined to connect on 32 of their 50 pass attempts for a total of 541 yards and seven touchdowns.
Davis threw two TD passes and led the team to three scores during his six drives. Johnson connected with Torrence Hunt for scoring passes of 23 and 38 yards, while Wornick hooked up with Michael Bowman for a 22 yard TD pass.
East Carolina’s Sept. 5, season opener with Conference USA foe Tulsa is right around the corner and the Pirates still have not declared a starting quarterback. McNeill said he was not worried that neither QB has stepped up and distinguished themselves from the rest of the pack.
“It’s not really (concerning) because all of them have done a good job,” McNeill said. “If they were all playing at a poor level that would be concerning, but all of them have done a really good job of executing the offense, checking us into the right play and understanding the language between (offensive coordinator) Lincoln (Riley) and the quarterback, from sideline to field. That’s really difficult in this offense but all three of them, Brad, Rio and Dom, have done a good job relaying that info to the team.”
Giavanni Ruffin led all rushers with 75 yards, which helped ECU rack up 664 yards of total offense.
One of the biggest improvements on offense was the Pirates ability to execute routine plays and not try to force big plays.
“I just let everything come to me,” Davis said. “I just went out and did my job, get the ball in the receivers’ hands and let the receivers make big plays.”
Davis said he was happy with his performance Saturday.
“I showed (the coaches) what they need to see, but so did all the quarterbacks out here,” Davis said. “(McNeil is not) going to pick a starter tomorrow, we are still going to battle it out until the Sept. 5, opener. But I think I showed them that I can calm down, look at my reads, focus on the routine throws and be a leader out there.”
Like Davis, Wornick felt all the QBs turned in a good effort.
“I thought we were all sharp today, I felt sharp. I wish I could have done more and maybe opened up the playbook more, but other than that I did what I had to do and made my reads,” Wornick said.
The quarterbacks each had their moments, and so did the East Carolina receivers. Torrance Hunt, a 5-8, 160-pound redshirt freshman, had a standout performance on Saturday and led all Pirates’ wideouts with 96 yards.
“Torrence Hunt, he is the one who really caught me eye today,” Davis said. “He made some great plays that we really haven’t seen all camp from him, but we knew he had the ability to do it. He opened my eyes.”
Wornick said there was a number of wideouts that impressed him during the 85-play scrimmage.
“Definitely No. 88 Lance Lewis, he is a big target and will be a weapon for us this year,” Wornick said. “(Sophomore) Jeremy Davis had a great day, (freshman) Mike Price had a great day and so did Torrance Hunt.”
On the defensive side of the ball, middle linebacker Melvin Patterson, who registered a team-high six tackles on Saturday, gave the unit mixed reviews.
“It was a good defensive performance but we are not were we want to be,” Patterson said. “We definitely want to gain more consistency as a unit. One of the positives is that we ran to the ball well and were productive.”
Freshman corner Jacobi Jenkins had a good outing as he picked off a pass and returned it 31 yards for a score.
One thing the Pirates wanted to work on was the mental aspect of their defense.
“We worked on recognition of different formations and different plays that we have seen this spring and the summer camp,” Patterson said. “That’s the thing we tried to focus on today.”