GREENVILLE — It was easy to get one half of East Carolina’s football team focused on Saturday’s game at Middle Tennessee rather than dwelling on its huge win against North Carolina last weekend.
The ECU defense never allowed UNC to stage any serious rally in the Pirates’ 55-31 drubbing, but there were plenty of mistakes and plenty for the Pirates to correct this week before heading to Mufreesboro, Tenn.
According to sophomore defensive end Terrell Stanley, ECU’s high energy and emotional level against the Tar Heels actually helped to hide what he said wasn’t a great performance.
“I feel like we’ve played better previously, but I just think the effort was there,” said Stanley, who has started all four games for ECU this season opposite senior end Lee Pegues. “Our technique wasn’t all right, and we lost some of our fundamentals, but our effort and desire to get to the ball covered up some of our mistakes.”
Stanley and Pegues have three sacks apiece through four games, but they, and defensive coordinator Rick Smith, want more.
Stanley said pass rush moves don’t always match up perfectly with the opportunities presented. It can be a chess match with offensive linemen, but one he’s figuring out how to win more often.
“You’ve got to study film and see what your opponent’s doing, see what their weakness is and try to work that and maybe try to set them up,” Stanley said. “You might do a few moves like a speed rush and then set them up with a counter move. That’s what you try to do, keep them guessing.”
So far it’s working, Smith said.
He said almost his entire unit graded out a winner after watching the UNC game film. The glaring area of concern was with the boundary corners, junior Detric Allen and sophomore Josh Hawkins.
“They accounted for 21 points,” Smith said, noting that the Tar Heels’ 32-yard touchdown pass thrown by receiver Quinshad Davis on a reverse was on Allen, the 56-yard strike from Bryn Renner to Davis was on Hawkins and Renner’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Nic Platt came after a combination of a missed interception attempt, a missed tackle by safety Chip Thompson and another by Allen.
“Right now we’ve got a problem at boundary corner,” Smith said. “They’ve got to play better. I’ve got to get them to start playing winning football or it’s going to be a long year.”