Pirates unified in aiming for wins
By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector
Tuesday, November 12, 2019
Ninety-four points, zero wins.
East Carolina’s football team was dealt that harsh reality in its first two games of November, scoring 43 in a three-point loss to Cincinnati at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and then on Saturday producing even more points — 51 — but also allowing more in a 59-51 defeat to No. 23 SMU.
"Our coaches and our players, everyone, wants to get the wins," Pirate first-year coach Mike Houston said Monday during the American Athletic Conference coaches teleconference. "That is the key to the whole thing. Offense or defense, it's a team thing. ... One thing we have made tremendous strides with is our unifying our locker room and unifying the guys on our roster, who have done a great job supporting each other."
The Pirates (3-7, 0-6 American) entered their final bye week of the season looking to continue their eye-popping numbers on offense in their final two games at Connecticut and then home versus Tulsa, while hoping to fix a wave of defensive woes. Houston added Monday that physical healing needs to remain part of this week.
"You have to be careful a little bit, and obviously this gives us the chance to recharge a little bit and get some guys healed up and get some guys work," he said. "You have to make sure you stay sharp, but at the same time, you have to take care of their bodies. We want to be full strength and really fresh and functioning at a high level going into the last two games of the year."
Quarterback Holton Ahlers passed for 1,033 combined yards the last two games. He had 11 total touchdowns (10 passing, one rushing) with one interception.
ECU’s defense yielded 1,098 yards during the same span, dropping ECU to 443.6 total yards allowed per game for the season and an average opponent rushing output of 206.1 yards.
One key for the Pirate offense in November has been the emergence of freshman right tackle Noah Henderson on an O-Line missing left guard Cortez Herrin and right guard Sean Bailey due to injury. Usual tackle Matt Morgan played guard against SMU, and Branden Pena returned to center with fellow center John Spellacy not available.
Morgan started all year at right tackle until Henderson, who is 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds and redshirted last season without seeing game action, was the top RT versus Cincy and SMU.
"I think Noah is a guy that the difference in him back in the spring to now is night and day," Houston said. "He has worked very hard to develop his body. He is another guy that every experience for him is a pretty much something new for him. ... It's a young (line), but a group that I'm really pleased with how far they have come this year."
Contact Ronnie Woodward at email@example.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.