Tyshon Dye

Running Back Tyshon Dye at practice. Tuesday marked the first practice with pads since spring camp.

This Tuesday marked another step towards the start of the college football season for the East Carolina University Pirates, which practiced in full pads for the first time since spring camp.

“The intensity level was through the roof,” wide receiver Jimmy Williams said. “Guys were all over the place. Guys flying around, pads popping, I could tell guys were excited to have that first day with all these pads on.”

Even though practice isn’t at full speed this early in the season, the Pirates definitely have some interesting position battles to keep an eye on. A lot of the focus has been on the quarterbacks, but the most intriguing of the battles is happening behind Thomas Sirk and Gardner Minshew at the running back position.

Graduate transfer Tyshon Dye and junior Derrell Scott are expected to play a larger part in the offense this season than East Carolina is accustomed to. They both seem up to the task, and a large part is thanks to the competition they have between each other. Scott believes pushing his teammates will only bring out the best in them, and said Dye is someone that pushes to play at his best.

“The whole running back group is going to get in there and work hard,” Dye said. “We’re going to have the mentality that nobody is better than us, were going to run hard, we're going to make people miss. Just having that physical mentality.”

ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery had high praise for his two backs after Tuesday’s practice.

While there will be a revived emphasis on the run game this year for the Pirates, East Carolina is still the school that’s had record breaking wide receivers in the last two seasons. Although Justin Hardy and Zay Jones no longer play for the Pirates, Jimmy Williams and the depth at this position will give whichever quarterback starts the season plenty of options down the field.

“I expect a lot of explosive plays,” Williams said. “We have a lot of guys that can do different things with the ball, they have different parts of their game where they can excel, so I'm just looking forward to everyone stepping in and playing their role and being the best they can be.”

With so many interesting position battles going on, the energy at practice is as high as it's been all season. While that sounds like a good thing right now, Montgomery knows that the intensity can only drop from here and the challenge will be keeping it up.

“I think our coaches biggest challenge right now is to make sure we don’t plateau and that we keep going up and up,” Montgomery said.

The Pirates will open the season at Dowdy-Ficklen stadium against the reigning FCS National Champions James Madison University. It will be a tough task for the team that finished 3-9 last season but a great gauge of the progress made by East Carolina.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.