East Carolina resumed its spring practice schedule with another full-intensity workout in pads Wednesday afternoon on Hight Field inside the Cliff Moore Practice Complex, putting the finishing touches on preparation efforts for its second official intra-squad scrimmage scheduled for Friday afternoon at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
"Today was another teaching day with continued focus on team work," head coach Skip Holtz said. "I don't think there's any question that we're all looking forward to having another chance to compete in game-like conditions, especially in a more traditional or typical scrimmage mode compared to what we did last Friday. We need to move the chains on offense and key on 'three-and-outs' on defense."
Holtz and his staff also completed their evaluations and released ECU's first public depth chart Wednesday afternoon prior to player meetings and the two-hour workout.
In addition to the first scrimmage evaluation, injuries and position changes played a role in the development of East Carolina's initial formal two-deep of the spring. The Pirates' defensive unit currently has at least eight players who are being kept out of contact drills because of injuries or rehabilitation work, including defensive linemen Marcus Hands, Jay Ross, Antonio Allison, Linval Joseph and Brandon Setzer, and linebackers Jeremy Chambliss, Dalvon Mack and Pierre Bell. Offensively, ECU is missing a pair of linemen in Fred Hicks and Doug Polochak, tight end Michael Byrd, running back Norman Whitley and receiver T.J. Lee.
Because of the aforementioned injuries, especially on the defensive line, two newcomers to the Pirate program are currently penciled in on top of two interior tackle slots. Redshirt freshman Maurice Mercer, a 2007 signee, will open Friday's scrimmage as one starter while Josh Smith, a walk-on transfer from Western Carolina who officially joined the ECU program at the start of spring drills, will man the other side.
"The first depth chart is based primarily on performances during last week's scrimmage," Holtz explained. "Perhaps the only thing I'll guarantee in regards to the depth chart is that it will change, probably as early as this Friday. While we have a lot of experience back, I still consider much of the two-deep a work in progress - especially at this stage."
Holtz' off-season and spring position changes are also visible within the listings as redshirt freshman D.J. McFadden (QB to WR), sophomore Kevin Gidrey (TE to FB) and junior Sean Allen (G to C) hold down spots on offense while sophomores Melvin Patterson (FS to LB) and Dekota Marshall (CB to SS) earned placings at defensive positions they have not experienced action at during regular season play.
Similar to last week, Holtz expects all levels of ECU's depth chart to experience action and be evaluated during this week's contest, which is tentatively scripted for a minimum of 90 to 100 plays.
After Friday's scrimmage, which will serve as the East Carolina’s 12th practice day of the spring, the Pirates will have just two more weekday afternoon sessions remaining before completing its workout schedule with the playing of the Purple-Gold Game April 12.