Bowl Season



Washington, D.C.
RFK Stadium
Dec. 29
2:30 p.m.

Nathan Summers of the Daily Reflector in Greenville, NC was nice enough to answer the questions about East Carolina.

BS: Ruffin McNeil, a defensive minded coach, comes in and the offense gets much better and the defense gets worse. How would you assess the first year of the Ruffin McNeil era?

Nathan Summers: McNeill's first season proved that his offensive ideas worked
immediately and his defensive ideas will need some time to develop. In
both cases, personnel played a major role. The offense was already working
with Dwayne Harris at receiver, who fit in immediately. The two newcomers
- quarterback Dominique Davis and transfer receiver Lance Lewis - excelled
beyond the expectations of everyone including McNeill. The defense, on the
other hand, proved how tough it is to rebuild after losing nine of the
previous year's 11 starters. The ECU defense was mostly a handful of
upperclassmen who had played only minor roles on previous teams and
freshmen who had yet to play at all, and it showed.

BS: The offense is the 7th best passing offense in the country. How good has Dominique Davis been at QB and who are his top weapons, both in the receiving game, and the running game?

Nathan Summers: Davis is already in the upper echelon of ECU's best-ever passers -
including David Garrard and Jeff Blake. Davis is incredibly accurate, and
his no-nonsense personality off the field is very similar to his mentality
on the field. McNeill could not have started his big spread era at ECU
with a more fitting QB. Harris and Lewis both had career years in the pass
game - Harris became the Pirates' all-time leading receiver while Lewis
set an ECU record for receiving TDs in a season with 11. Also, senior
running back Jonathan Williams gave the team great balance as the leading
rusher and third leading receiver.

BS: The defense is giving up over 43 points a game. What do the Pirates have to do to keep the offense in the game? Also, what are the reasons for the lack of success on this side of the ball?

Nathan Summers:It took former ECU defensive coordinator Greg Hudson a couple of
stellar recruiting years to build the defense that was the cornerstone of
ECU's consecutive Conference USA championships. First-year ECU coordinator
Brian Mitchell will need similar recruiting returns to blend in with what
was actually a promising young group. ECU lost three key, young defensive
linemen to long-term injuries through the season.

BS: If you had to choose one player to have a breakout performance in the bowl game, who would it be?

Nathan Summers: Dwayne Harris. He has been arguably the most electric player in ECU
history, rivaling former Pirate Chris Johnson. Harris has done it all at
ECU - in addition to being the all-time leading receiver, he's thrown a
couple of long touchdown passes, rushed for scores out of the Wildcat
formation and on reverse plays and also authored some of the more
memorable kickoff returns in recent ECU history. Also, it will be Harris'
final in-game audition for NFL scouts.

Thanks a lot to Nathan Summers of the Daily Reflector.

Bill Bride, of was nice enough to answer some questions about the Terps.

BS: Coming of a 2-10 season, The Terps finished 8-4 in the regular season. What has accounted for the huge difference between this year and last?

Bill Bride: Head Coach Ralph Friedgen really didn't change a whole lot in the day-to-day operation of the program. He didn’t change any position coaches. He believed in everyone in his program. The Terps finally found a quarterback in Danny O'Brien, but most importantly their offensive line got better even as it was patched together through a variety of injuries. Tom Brattan did an incredible job with the offensive line this season.

BS: The offense was led by freshman QB Danny O'Brien. How good has he been in his first year at the helm and please comment on the offense in general including some personnel.

Bill Bride:O’Brien’s 21 TD passes was the most by a Terp QB since 1993 and his pass efficiency rating of 135.2 was one of the best ratings in the nation. Throughout the season O’Brien showed tremendous poise and grit leading the Terps. He’s spread the ball around a lot using a variety of receivers. Torrey Smith, with 65 catches for 1,065 yards and 12 TD is his first choice but ten other players caught TD passes.

Also the Terps had a nice triple threat at RB with Davin Meggett, Da’Rel Scott and D.J. Adams combining for over 1,400 yards rushing and 14 TD’s.

BS: The defense improved greatly from last year. Who are the key players and how will they stop the 7th ranked Pirate passing attack?

Bill Bride:Key players on for Defensive Coordinator Don Brown include Al l-ACC LB Alex Wujciak, who was all over the field this season averaging 9.3 tackles per game. Safety Kenny Tate has improved each of his three seasons at Maryland, he had three interceptions this year and was named All- ACC.  Senior  LB Adrian Moten led the Terps with 4 interceptions. Also DT Joe Vellano  LB Demetrius Hartzfeld and DL A.J. Francis were key contributors to the defense.

To stop East Carolina’s offense, Maryland’s defensive line needs to come up big and put a lot of pressure on ECU’s QB Dominique Davis. The Terps Linebackers and Safeties are a solid unit and are tough against the run. Maryland has a solid red-zone defense (ask Navy about that).

BS: If you could choose one player to have a breakout performance in the bowl game, who would it be?

Bill Bride: In what could be his final college game, junior WR Torrey Smith could duplicate his performance he had against NC State (14 receptions, 224 yards and 4 TD’s). Smith graduates this month and is weighing his options on coming back for his senior season or submitting his name for the NFL draft.

Thanks a lot to Bill Bride.

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