East Carolina’s early-season success on offense has mostly been credited to the high profile passing attack brought in by offensive coordinator Tony Petersen. But where the Pirates have secretly been winning is in the running game.
Behind junior starting running back Anthony Scott, ECU has averaged over 211 rushing yards over the past two games, averaging six yards per carry.
Another player coming on strong for the Pirates ground game has been backup quarterback and utility player James Summers, who has compiled 136 of his 190 total yards in the run game and registered two of the Pirates’ five rushing touchdowns. Summers is second on the team with 136 rushing yards behind Scott’s 161 yard rushing total.
The Pirates’ running attack has a lot more diversity than the usual type of play calling, and it starts with Summers
“Every week we try to find more ways to get [Summers] the ball,” said ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery. “It’s not tough, because he can handle it. He can learn it, and he likes being in and out of the game. We‘ll try to grow his package this week.”
If anything, Summers and Scott have proven to be a compliment to each other, as the package Petersen and Montgomery dialed up for the two proved to be a nightmare for the defenses of Western Carolina and North Carolina State.
Summers’ reliability to play the back up to Scott could be a key, but Montgomery and his staff have already proven their trust in Scott, when they elected to keep him in after a detrimental fumble near the Pirate red zone last week.
“We’re not going to take [Scott] out of the game in that situation because he’s deserved and earned a lot of what he’s gotten,” said Montgomery.
Summers, who remains a workhorse even outside of the running game, won’t always be called on to fill the void behind Scott.
Backup running back Devin Anderson, who was recently awarded with a scholarship, has brought a different level of toughness to the running game. Anderson has gained 91 yards on 18 carries this season, averaging just over five yards per carry.
No play stuck out more for what Anderson brings to the rushing attack than running 28 yards up the middle into NC State territory the play after Scott appeared to be injured last week. The level of insecurity Scott gives defenses on the perimeter and Summers gives through his designed package, Anderson gives through his bruising nature.
The Pirate offense has been successful in nearly all aspects, so none of their overall statistics truly dominate a column on the stat sheet. However, what does stick out is being able to gain six yards per carry, which is a recipe for success on all levels of football due to its ability to open all dimensions of a team’s offense.
“We’re really pushing each other to get better day-by-day,” said Scott. “We just all working for the one goal and that’s everybody get better each day, and with everybody better, no matter who’s in, we can get the job done.”