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Pirates prepare for Purple and Gold game

East Carolina quarterback Rio Johnson (7) throws a pass during a Pirates scrimmage earlier this spring. Today, ECU will play its annual Purple and Gold game. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

GREENVILLE — Those wanting to get a clearer picture of what the 2012 East Carolina football season will want to check out the team’s Purple and Gold game today at 2:30 p.m. inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

For the past month the Pirates have been working to form their preseason depth chart during the spring practice period and there is no doubt each player will be looking to boost their stock in the spring finale.

“We’re planning on getting in approximately 80 plays – 60 with the No. 1 offense going against the No. 2 defense and vice-versa, and about 20 plays for the threes to compete against each other,” McNeill stated in the school’s press release on Wednesday.

Once against all eyes will be on the quarterback position as last year’s No. 2 signal-caller Rio Johnson will continue to try and stake his claim to the starting spot that was left vacant by the graduated Dominique Davis.

Sophomore Shane Carden figured to be Johnson’s biggest threat to the top of the QB depth chart but after injuring his index on his throwing hand the 6-2, 218-pound passer will have to wait until the summer to resume the battle.

With Carden out, that leaves freshman Cody Keith and senior Brad Wornick in the mix with Johnson, but so far none of the QBs have done enough to become a no-brainer choice.

Keith looked sharp in the team’s first scrimmage as he hit on 10 of his 11 pass attempts for 104 yards and one TD, however, in the second scrimmage he connected on only three of his 10 attempts for 23 yards. Keith is the only QB to throw for a score so far.

During the first two scrimmages Johnson has combined to hit on 15 of his 28 attempts for 94 yards, while Wornick has gone 8-for-12 for 46 yards.

Another closely watched contest will be at the running back position where juniors Michael Dobson, Torrance Hunt, Hunter Furr, Zico Pasut will compete with senior Reggie Bullock, sophomore John Barnes-Smith and freshman Chris Hairston for the starting job. So far Hairston leads all the rushers as he has galloped for 37 yards on 10 carries.

On the defensive side of the ball the battle for starting strong safety should be a good one as sophomore Lamar Ivey and JUCO transfer Godfrey Thompson will continue to duke it out, while senior Jacobi Jenkins and JUCO transfer Adonis Armstrong compete for the field corner position.

Damon Magazu, the returning starter at free safety, will be out for today’s game with a lower back injury. Also sitting out today’s scrimmage will be NT Leroy Vick (concussion). Inside linebacker Daniel Drake is listed as questionable with due to a lower back injury.