Just like old times

Published 9:13 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2012

East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden (5) will make the first start of his college career on Saturday when the Pirates play their Conference USA opener at Southern Miss. (ECU Photo/Rob Goldberg)

GREENVILLE — Shane Carden hasn’t started a football game since 2009 but he remembers that start vividly, and with good reason, as he piloted Episcopal (Texas) to a 52-7 victory against Kinkaid in the state championship game.
Carden, a two-time all-state selection, completed 16 of his 24 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns in that game and is hoping for similar results this Saturday when he makes the first start of his college career in East Carolina’s Conference USA opener at Southern Miss.
“The last time I started a game was the championship game in high school and we won by a good amount and we’re hoping for the same outcome this weekend,” Carden said.
After losing a fierce preseason quarterback competition to junior Rio Johnson, Carden got to start in the second half of the Pirates’ 48-10 loss to No. 9 South Carolina  Saturday and did not get off to a good one as he threw an interception on his first pass attempt.
The good news was that he finished better than he started as he ended the game going 12-for-18 for 140 yards, while leading  ECU on its only two scoring drives of the contest.
Carden, a 6-2, 218-pound redshirt sophomore, was bummed about his first pass attempt versus the Gamecocks but received a pick-me-up from his uncle Gordon Adams, who was the quarterback of the 1980 USC Trojans team that went 8-2-1 and featured football legends such as Ronnie Lott, Kevin Fisher and Bruce Mathews.
“My uncle gave me a little shout-out today,” Carden said. “I haven’t talked to him since the game, but he let me know his first college pass was an interception too so it made me feel a little better.”
In two games the Pirates (1-1) have thrown five intercetpions, the second-most in the FBS. It’s a trend ECU offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley is looking to put an end to.
“Shane took care of the ball. Both (QBs) were productive,” Riley said. “Shane came in and played well. Ball security and turnovers are a priority this year. Rio’s done a lot of great things, but taking care of the ball is No. 1 for us. He didn’t do that so we had to make a change.”
Carden said the key for him to be able to make a second start is to not try and hit a home run every play and just take what the defensive gives him.
“The first possession I was just trying to do too much. I was trying to fit it in to a tight coverage. I should have just checked to another play,” Carden said. “But, after that I settled down a little bit and started playing good.”
Not much is known about Carden, as he saw limited action at the end of ECU’s 35-13 win over Appalachian State before getting into the game against South Carolina.
The behind the scenes talk of the sophomore signal-caller is that he tends to have a Brett Favre-like tendency to improvise on plays and dance in and out of the pocket. When asked about that, Riley laughed and said he would let the media be the judge of that.
“Everybody is a little bit different. He does kind of look like him though. Their faces look alike, (Shane’s) got that reddish beard that’s a little scruffy,” Riley said. “He’s made some plays with his feet and kept some things alive but he just needs to play like he did in the second half (of the South Carolina game) and we’ll let you guys do all the comparisons.”