Published 6:18 pm Saturday, August 13, 2011
GREENVILLE — The Pirates new 3-4 defense got put to the test on Saturday as East Carolina held its first scrimmage of fall camp and the feedback was positive upon the conclusion.
The scrimmage, which after the first 30 minutes was closed to the media and public, lasted from 9:40 a.m. until roughly 11:15 a.m. and when it was over, with the exception of a few too many penalties, ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill liked what he saw.
“There were a lot of really good competitive situations,” McNeill said. “The offense had a few good drives, the defense had to battle back … We saw some really good plays and some really good improvement from the groups. Now, we’ll just have to watch some film and evaluate that and grade those guys.”
Overall, McNeill seemed to be pleased with the defenses progress.
“I saw some really good things,” McNeill said. “I saw them come up with some pretty good plays. I saw them playing sound. … It’s not going to be a magical deal or happen over night, but I saw the benefit of us going to a 3-4: More speed on the field and more athleticism.”
As a unit, the Pirates defense racked up five sacks and 12 tackles for a loss in 91 plays as freshman inside linebacker Jeremy Grove led the way with seven tackles.
Senior cornerback Emanuel Davis was second on the team in tackles with six. Junior defensive tackle Diavlo Simpson tallied five tackles and two sacks.
Junior defensive end turned linebacker Marke Powell, who booked four tackles and a sack, felt encouraged by Saturday’s outing.
“I felt like we did some good things as a whole,” Powell said. “We’ll watch film and see what we need to improve on. Other than that, we were the worst defense in the nation last year, we can’t do nothing but get better.”
The defensive performance was competent enough to give offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley cause not be overly impressed with the work of his group.
“It was spotty. We moved the ball well pretty much all day but we hit a little lull in the middle where the defense outplayed us,” Riley said. “Compared to last year you can really see the competiveness in the scrimmage from both sides. You can say it was a lull for us, but they were outplaying us there and that’s obviously good to see that the team is coming together and competing.”
One person who did not hit a lull was JUCO transfer running back Reggie Bullock, who may have won himself a starting role with his performance on Saturday he rushed for 49 yards on six carries.
“I think Reggie Bullock’s definitely the leader in the running back battle. He’s really separated himself as a runner and is really doing a great job of picking up the offense quick,” Riley said. “Alex Owah (5-50 TD) had some really nice runs today and has been running the ball well. He popped a (41-yard TD run) on a fourth-and-short that really got us back going again after we lost some momentum.
“(Michael) Dobson and (Torrance) Hunt are still in the mix but if we were to play today Reggie would be the guy, but those guys would still play quite a bit.”
Bullock, the 5-9, 175-pound transfer from Arizona Western CC led the NJCAA by gaining 1,830 yards and gained Riley’s attention with his tough style.
“He just runs angry,” Riley said. “For a little guy he just runs … he doesn’t run like he’s that short. He’s got some quickness and all that, he can make people look silly, but he runs with a purpose.”
Another closely watched offensive battle is going on at the backup quarterback position where incumbent junior Brad Wornick is trying to fend off sophomore Rio Johnson and freshman Shane Carden.
“We’re going to cut somebody (from the competition) pretty quick. We’ll evaluate this scrimmage and then cut the reps on somebody and narrow it down to three,” Riley said. “I’m not going to enjoy having to do that, they all played well … It’s going to be a tough decision.”
Davis, the returning starter, completed 15 of his 20 attempts for 97 yards and was followed by Johnson (10-16, 80 1 TD), Charden (7-10, 57) and Wornick (8-11, 53).
Michael Bowman led all receivers with 7 catches for 41 yards, while Justin Hardy added five receptions for a team-high 55 yards.
ALL SCRIMMAGE NO. 1 STATS
RUSHING: Alex Owah (5-50 yards, 1 TD), Reggie Bullock (6-49), Michael Dobson (10-23, 1 TD), Dominique Davis (2-6), Torrance Hunt (7-3), Shane Carden (2-<-11>), Brad Wornick (2-<-12>). Totals –– 34-108 (3.2 ypr), 2 TD.
PASSING: Dominique Davis (20-15-0, 97 yards), Rio Johnson (16-10-0, 80, 1 TD), Shane Carden (10-7-0, 57), Brad Wornick (11-8-0, 53). Totals –– 57-40-0, 287 yards, 1 TD (70.2%).
RECEIVING: Michael Bowman (7-41 yards), Justin Hardy (5-55), Derrick Harris (4-33), Reese Wiggins (4-26), Gray Mazzone (3-38), Antonio Cannon (3-24), Dayon Arrington (3-14), Andrew Bodenheimer (3-5), Michael Dobson (2-13), Torian Richardson (2-12, 1 TD), Torrance Hunt (1-11), Donte Sumpter (1-9), Reggie Bullock (1-4), Zico Pasut (1-2). Totals –– 40-287, 1 TD
TACKLES: Jeremy Grove 7, Emanuel Davis 6, Diavalo Simpson 5 (2 sacks/-12 yards, 2 TFL/-12 yards), Zeek Bigger 4 (TFL/-3 yards), Derek Blacknall 4 (PB), Lamar Ivey 4, Jacobi Jenkins 3 (TFL/-1 yard, blocked FGA), Marke Powell 4 (sack/-4 yards, TFL/-4 yards), Kyle Tudor 4, Ty Holmes 3, Bradley Jacobs 3 (FR/no return), Damon Magazu 3, Justin Venable 3 (TFL/-3 yards), Brandon Williams 3, Terry Williams 3 (sack/-4 yards, 2 TFL/-8 yards), Terry Biles 2 (PB), Cody Lyon 2 (TFL/-2 yards), Detric Allen 1, Chris Baker 1, Jimmy Booth 1, James Craig 1, Daniel Drake 1 (TFL/-3 yards), Maurice Falls 1, Robert Huckabee 1, Derrell Johnson 1 (sack/-7 yards, TFL/-7 yards), Desmond Lawrence 1, Domonique Lennon 1, Matt Milner 1 (TFL/-2 yards), Leonard Paulk 1, Lee Pegues 1, Cliff Perryman 1, Chrishon Rose 1