What do you get when you combine the 16th highest scoring offense in the Nation with the 199th ranked scoring defense? Complete and udder chaos, AKA and East Carolina game. It was a wild year for East Carolina. Led by first year coach Ruffin McNeil the Pirates won 5 of their first 7 games beating NC State and Southern Miss on the way.
Unfortunately, the season took a turn for the worse and they dropped 5 of their last 6 including drubbings to Navy (76 to 35) and Rice (62 to 38). To make sense of this wild year we brought back Michael Perry, the sports editor for the ECU student newspaper The East Carolinian, to find out his thoughts on the 2010 Pirates.
1. In our Pre-Season preview you said you thought East Carolina would win six or seven games. They finished 6-7. Now that the season is over how do you feel about the season? Was it a success, a failure or somewhere in between?
Great question. This has been a big debate among local media members and those on my staff and I believe I've come to the conclusion that the season ECU had was unsuccessful if you compare them to years passed, but if you look at them as a young program with new coach they were an overwhelming success. They hung tough in close games and had a wonderful first half of the season. The main downfall was the young defense, from Coordinator to player, everyone on the defense was inexperienced.
2. What was the turning point of the season?
The turning point for ECU was the debacle against Navy. Not to say Navy is not a solid football program but an option offense should put up numbers like that. The loss to Rice and the way the Pirates lost to SMU added to this teams terrible second half performance.
3. East Carolina had a dynamic offense this year putting up 36 points per game but on the other side of the football they often couldn't stop anybody. What were the major issues with the defense and what needs to be fixed going into next year?
To not steal any credit from my football beat writer Adam Bunn who said it best, it was purely fundamentals. Bad tackling, not knowing assignments in the secondary, not staying composed. These are all things that young defenses go through, but with a season behind them this defense can not support itself with the crutch of the "young defense" next year.
4. Who was the most surprising player this season?
Tough one. Sounds funny to say Dominique Davis as he was already known to be a promising quarterback, but in person the way that guy ran the offense was a thing of beauty. From the standpoint of an all out surprise it has to be Lance Lewis (WR). I would argue he was the most lethal receiver in the Pirates' offense this season.
5. Who are you most looking forward to watching in 2011?
Again I will give the nod to Lewis. The program was all about Dwayne Harris this year, supposedly, but Lewis is a big fast receiver who can make plays. I look forward to hearing from Davis to Lewis all next season. I am also excited to watch Dustin Lineback once again. The guy has an old school linebacker build and he is involved on virtually every tackle on defense.