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Turnovers a factor for Pirates

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East Carolina safety Da'Andre Beverly makes a catch during a drill before Saturday's scrimmage.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Of all the statistics that doomed East Carolina’s football team in 2017, and on defense in particular, a glaring disparity was that ECU scored 31 points off turnovers and opponents finished with 121.

Third-year head coach Scottie Montgomery has stressed for ECU defenders to be more aggressive in going after interceptions this season, and the Pirates grabbed two on Saturday during a preseason scrimmage in addition to pouncing on a fumble.

Defensive coordinator David Blackwell, who is in his first season leading the Pirates’ defense, is hoping for an attacking mindset, and the unit was set up that way Saturday.

“We are a hard defense to run against, just because of how we play and the way we align,” Blackwell said. “If we can generate pressure on the quarterback and make plays on balls in the air then we have the chance to be pretty salty.”

The Pirates had 50 rushes for 106 yards in the scrimmage, which will be followed by another scrimmage this Saturday. The team was off Monday and will return to the practice field today.

ECU ranked last in the country a year ago in total defense, scoring defense and pass efficiency defense.

Blackwell said there were a few passes Saturday during first-team action that were frustrating to watch on an otherwise productive day by his group. Sophomore quarterback Reid Herring finished 16-of-26 for 265 passing yards and three touchdowns.

“We let them get off the hook a couple times with our first-team defense, and Reid made some nice throws on third-and-long,” Blackwell said. “On third-and-10 and third-and-11, we have to be able to get off the field. We had a chance to really have a great day defensively, but I thought it just ended up being a good day.

“I was pleased with us, but I really thought that if we finished the second half the way we did the first half then it would have been an outstanding performance.”

Linebacker Aaron Ramseur had a pass breakup and fumble force to go with a team-high eight tackles. He is set to be a starter and team leader along with fellow sophomore starting linebacker Bruce Bivens.

Another key player, hybrid defensive end Kendall Futrell, recorded a sack. Backup end Nate Harvey totaled four sacks.

Freshman Nolan Johnson, who is battling with Davondre Robinson to start at free safety in an important position to watch this preseason, excelled with six tackles.

“I feel like everybody has something to work on, but we are ready and are ready to play another team,” Ramseur said. “We are prepared and we know the plays we are running. Coach has been calling a lot of good plays that we feel comfortable with and we can attack.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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