The East Carolina Pirates are wrapping up the 2016 spring practice schedule on Saturday, April 16 at 2:30 with the yearly Purple-Gold Game. Check here for a full schedule of events.
Date: April 16
Time: 2:30 PM EST
Location: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium
Format: As of today, I have yet to see Scottie Montgomery officially announce the specific format for the spring game. In the end, it doesn't really matter.
The Pirates still have three more practices, Friday being a non-contact day, before the annual spring game. As the culmination of the first series of practices under head coach Scottie Montgomery, the Purple-Gold game should finally give the Pirates faithful a good look at ECU with a new coaching staff.
What are some things to pay remember and notice to while watching the Purple-Gold game this Saturday?
- Watch the left side of the offensive line. With the right half of the offensive line back this spring, it is important to find out just how good the other side of the offensive line will be. Left tackle is a spot to watch in particular with Messiah Rice seeing significant time at that position with the first team. The offensive line has a chance to be a strength for ECU this fall, so watching the trenches will be a good exercise.
- Turnovers. With Montgomery at the helm of ECU, one of their goals has been to force turnovers on defense. This philosophy will result in explosive plays made and given up by the defense. It should be very apparent just how much this defense has taken the new objective to heart. Likewise, on offense, pay attention to how turnover occur. Holding on to the football is key for the offense as the Pirates were ravaged by way too many dumb turnovers last fall. The offense must show an ability to take care of the football in a game situation.
- Spring game statistics are overrated: As much as the coaching staff needs this time to get acclimated with the roster, spring practice is about developing youth and adding depth to the roster. If a wide receiver come out of nowhere and puts up amazing numbers in the spring game, do not get too excited. If Kurt Benkert struggles, remember that #1 target Isaiah Jones is not playing this spring.
- It's just a glorified scrimmage: In the end, this is a spring game and only a spring game. The Pirates will win no matter what so do not get all worked up about the quality of play. It will be a bit sloppy and players will make wrong reads, that is all part of the spring. Just enjoy the day.
- Expect few major changes from 2015: The roster that is available this spring is virtually the same roster that Ruffin McNeill and company worked with, minus injured players and players lost to graduation, left the program, or were dismissed. The offense will be largely similar and the defense will still be a 3-4. Other than a mandate to go for more turnovers, the defense will be very similar to last fall.
- The kicking game: The Pirates have Davis Plowman (kicker) and Worth Gregory (punter) back this season. Gregory in particular was outstanding last season. Both should be just as good, if not better, with another spring in the books. Even if they both have terrible days, they will be fine this fall. The kicking game is in very capable hands.
- Don't worry about the depth chart: As I stated earlier, injuries and many other factors make a spring depth chart much different than the fall two-deep. If you see a name or two that is getting more playing time than a projected starter, that is to give the player more experience. Very rarely is a position won or lost in the spring.