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August 23, 2008

Poised in the pocket

GREENVILLE, N.C. - In what has been the most temperate fall camp in the Skip Holtz era, ECU made their way onto Bagwell Field and cruised their way through one last dress rehersal before game week begins.

Pirate quarterback Patrick Pinkney says it was the coolest camp of all in his five years in Greenville after the completion of Friday's final scrimmage.

"It's been a good camp. I think we're farther along than we were this time last year," Pinkney explained, "This scrimmage is more about finding out where our team is at, cutting down on penalties and just being disciplined."

Pinkney and his Pirate mates are almost ready to embark on the four hour cruise to Charlotte for a high noon date with 15th ranked Virginia Tech. It's the return match of last year's hotly contested, emotional 17-7 Hokie victory in Blacksburg in front of a national audience on ESPN. What is Pinkney's main focus?

"Just executing the offense and doing my job. I'm still making some mistakes, you're going to make some mistakes but you have to over come them."

Pinkney, who overcame shoulder problem earlier in his ECU carrer, was third on the depth chart this time last year when sophomore signal caller Rob Kass was flagged for a violation of team rules and sat out last year's tilt.

The Fayetteville senior got his feet wet in Blacksburg in a game that was even closer than the ten point difference on the scoreboard. At the end of the day, Pinkney went 14-25 for 115 yards and ran for 48. If not for an ill advised Brett Clay interception pass in negative territory, it was a three-point ballgame.

Before long the man who was third on the depth chart was on the big stage trying to bring the Pirates back to victory on national television.

There are always be some errors in judgement and simple mistakes, especially early in the season, but limiting them and overcoming those that do occur are the big picture objectives for Pinkney.

"Just doing our job. Not having stupid penalties and not making a lot of mistakes," said Pinkney, "Because if you make a lot of mistakes, It'll get you."

Pinkney, the son of former ECU gridiron great Reggie Pinkney, started in five of thirteen contests last season, splitting time with Rob Kass but it was the Virgina Tech game where he got his big chance. What did he gain from that experience?

"Confidence,in just knowing the offense you know your teammates are going to play for you on both sides of the ball."

Todd Fitch has done yeoman's work with the compact 6-0, 200 pounder to put Pinkney in a position to succeed. In 2007 Pinkney passed for 1,358 yards and eleven touchdowns against only four picks.

Add in another 300 plus yards on the ground.

The highlights of last season for Pinkney included the historic first home victory over North Carolina and a Hawai'i Bowl victory at Boise State. Depending on the need, both Pinkney and sidekick Rob Kass bring different talents to the fold and together they make a solid quarterback tandem.

Pinkney described his mindset for the season opener in Charlotte against Virginia Tech next Saturday.

"Coach Fitch always says, just take care of yourself and everything will take care of itself. I'm just going to to my job line by line with the receivers to make plays and running backs and just go have fun."

Holtz talks about Friday's Scrimmage

ECU Head Coach Skip Holtz reports there were less penalties in Friday's scrimmage than in the one last week but he was concerned defensively.

"I think we gave up too many plays in the passing game today, down the field, and I think the ball was on the ground too many times," Holtz said.

"There were three fumbles today, and we have got to eliminate these things. I told this team, in the opening ball game, let's make sure we don't beat ourselves. Let's not make these mistakes and give the game away."

Skip had no major injuries to report on Friday. Jonathan Williams ran the football well along with surprising senior running back Derek Jones who is another big back with good speed. Darryl Reynolds and Dwayne Harris were lifted early after hard contact, as was Zack Slate but are all expected to be on the field when Virginia Tech preparations continue Sunday night.

ESPN will televise the East Carolina - Virginia Tech game from Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on August 30. Kickoff is slated for high noon.

Stay with PirateIllustrated as we provide continuing coverage of ECU Football 2008.


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