Aug 11, 2012
Greenville, N.C. — A surging Pirate front seven that tallied 11 tackles for lost yardage spearheaded the defensive effort, while 68-yard and 43-yard passing strikes highlighted a turnover-free offensive performance during East Carolina's first intra-squad scrimmage of preseason camp Saturday morning at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
The controlled contest, which was played in mostly cloudy and humid conditions with temperatures in the low-80's, consisted of approximately 50 overall plays that included all levels of the program's preseason depth chart.
"I saw what I wanted to see today and I was pleased," third-year head coach Ruffin McNeill said. "For starters, I thought the penalties were not at a maximum. I remember having to stop this same scrimmage last year because of the flags, and today, we cut back on those. I also saw both sides of the ball execute well. The defense made some plays and bounced back after giving up a big one. I saw the offense move the football and I thought all four quarterbacks did a pretty good job when they were in there."
Senior Brad Wornick, junior Rio Johnson, sophomore Shane Carden and redshirt freshman Cody Keith equally split repetitions at quarterback with two possessions each. Wornick took the opening series and completed his first four pass attempts to help set up sophomore Warren Harvey's 42-yard field goal before Carden used his initial toss of the morning to connect with sophomore Danny Webster on a 68-yarder.
Johnson directed ECU to its only touchdown of the scrimmage, following a 43-yard throw to true freshman Jabril Solomon with a 12-yard scoring pass to junior Justin Jones during his last series of action. Keith completed his first attempt of the day, a 10-yarder to senior Andrew Bodenheimer, before finishing one-of-five.
The Pirate defense, with the aid of some quick preseason protective officiating whistles, also racked up seven sacks that resulted in a loss of 30 yards. ECU's line and linebacking corps limited a quartet of ECU running backs to only 10 yards on seven attempts - an average of just 1.4 yards per carry – and thwarted an early scoring opportunity with a stand that began as a first-and-goal at the two-yard line following Carden’s long completion.
Junior outside linebacker Derrell Johnson netted three sacks and two quarterback pressures while sophomore walk-on outside linebacker Darian Harris led all tacklers with five stops, including two for lost yardage. Fellow linebackers, senior Daniel Drake and sophomore Maurice Falls, along with redshirt freshman defensive end Johnathon White, each chipped in with three hits.
"Because of all the camp nicks we have, especially on defense, some guys had to step in and get their shot, and they did that today," McNeill added. "I was glad to see that. We rotate quite a bit on that side of the ball, so each unit may have a different front or different set of linebackers with them, so I had a special eye on that."
The Pirates were without their full contingent of players during the scrimmage as OL Jordan Davis (back), OLB Jacob Geary (left leg), ILB Jeremy Grove (left leg), OL Taylor Hudson (left hand), DE Matt Milner (left foot), OLB Montese Overton (concussion), RB/IWR Zico Pasut (concussion), CB Leonard Paulk (right knee) and IWR Donte Sumpter (right ankle) all missed the action due to injury.
Bodenheimer (19 yards) topped all pass catchers with three receptions, while Webster (70), Jones (24), senior Reggie Bullock (19) and junior Brandon Weymann (19) each had two each.
"I thought the kids were ready to go and their approach was professional and business-like," McNeill concluded. "I'm really happy with where we are at this point."
Following film evaluation of the scrimmage Saturday afternoon, East Carolina will return to the Cliff Moore Practice Complex Sunday at 8:45 a.m. for its 11th workout of the fall.