2012 East Carolina Football Preview:
As one of the most exciting programs to come out of Conference USA in the past five years, the East Carolina Pirates have been on many college football analysts' radar screens going into the 2012 season. The team was able to climb into the Top 25 and win the Conference USA Championship in 2008 and 2009, which brought the program plenty of respectability. During the 2011 season, the Pirates experienced an average year as they managed a 5-7 record, although they played their Top 25 opponents tough. The 2011 team was certainly a young squad, so head coach Ruffin McNeill has to be excited about his group's potential this year.
On offense, the Pirates will go into the season with a new quarterback, Rio Johnson, a junior who played in only four games last year. At the running back position, the Pirates prefer a running back-by-committee approach, utilizing the speed of Reggie Bullock and the shifty power of Michael Dobson. The team also expects big things out of receiver Justin Hardy and Andrew Bodenheimer, who were fixtures in the 2011 offense. Perhaps the greatest strength of the Pirates' attack is their offensive line, a solid group of juniors that have developed continuity with one another.
Defensively, East Carolina University employs a 3-4 scheme with a strong inner rotation of linemen Matt Milner, Michael Brooker and Lee Pegues. Inside linebacker Jeremy Groves' huge freshman season makes him one of the leaders of the linebacking corps with Daniel Drake and Kyle Tudor. The secondary was led by safety Damon Magazu's four interceptions last year, so he is expecting to be the roving centerfielder of the defense yet again in 2012.
On special teams, the Pirates will expect a battle in training camp between Warren Harvey and Connor Torruella, as well as Phil McNaughton competing with Trent Tignor for punting duties. All in all, this is a unit that looks to be the biggest question mark that could be the difference in many close games in the coming season.
Fresh off a 5-7 season and ho-hum 4-4 record on the Conference USA, the Pirates know that there is nowhere to go but up in the rankings. With the rise of teams like the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Houston, the conference is certainly no slouch in terms of talent and ECU will have to rise to the occasion to climb the standings.
EAST CAROLINA PIRATES INFORMATION:
Location: Greenville, North Carolina
Stadium: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium
Conference: Conference USA
Rivals: University of North Carolina Tarheels
Mascot: The Pirate
Notable Alumni: David Garrard, Rod Coleman, Terrance Copper
Notable Bowl Games:
The East Carolina Pirates first fielded a football team in 1932 when they played without pads against other North Carolina-based schools. Since then the football program has developed into a multi-million dollar endeavor and managed to play in 12 bowl games, developed 19 All-Americans, provided 52 players to the NFL, five of whom have won Super Bowl rings. The Pirates have proven themselves to be a force to be reckoned with both in the Conference USA and in out of conference games.
East Carolina plays its home games at Dowdy-Ficklin Stadium in Greenville, North Carolina. The stadium was opened in 1963 and after a 1998 expansion it holds 43,000 spectators. East Carolina is fast becoming a top tier football program and future expansions of Dowdy-Ficklin will bring its capacity to over 60,000. Buy east Carolina Pirates football tickets today and watch this ambitious program evolve into a football powerhouse!
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East Carolina Pirates Ticket Information:
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