By Jeremy Slayton
GREENVILLE -- The weather matched the emotions on the field Monday afternoon as the East Carolina football team opened its first spring practice under head coach Skip Holtz.
With temperatures above 70 degrees under clear skies, Holtz said he is pleased with what he saw from his team, using words like excited and encouraged to describe his feelings.
"We're throwing an awful lot at them right now from an offensive standpoint and a defensive standpoint," said Holtz, who was named ECU's head coach in December replacing the fired John Thompson. "But I was really pleased with the way they went out there and the way they worked."
Senior linebacker Chris Moore, who is entering a season under his third head coach, said the practice was one of the best he's been around.
"It was really intense. We had a great game plan; we have a lot of respect for the coaches [and] the schemes were working real good," said Moore, a native of Havelock.
Red-shirt freshman quarterback Davon Drew said things went well for the first practice.
"I think things were a little rushed but everything is new to everybody," said Drew. "For it to be the first day, I think we accomplished a lot."
Drew, a New Bern native, is battling junior Kort Shankweiler and red-shirt freshman Patrick Pinkney to earn the starting nod under center.
None of the trio has taken a snap in a live college game, and Holtz said the quarterbacks threw a lot of interceptions in the initial practice of the spring.
"We've got a long way to go," said Holtz. "We've put so much in on everybody, but the quarterbacks have more than anybody. We have to do a better job of protecting the football."
Drew knows that he has to continue to work if he wants to earn the nod, but at the same time, he's looking forward to the spring-long battle.
"I feel like I accomplished some things and I've seen a few things I need to work on," said the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Drew. "Probably need to study the playbook a little bit more and things like that."
Shankweiler, on the other hand, has spent the previous two seasons playing fullback, after playing quarterback at J.H. Rose High School. He said things were a little rusty, but at the same time is expecting a good battle with Drew and Pinkney.
"It'll be a great competition. Each quarterback does a different thing better than the other," said Shankweiler. "It'll just be who can learn the offense the quickest and who can make the right choices the quickest."
The Pirates will have a day off today before returning to the practice field Wednesday. Holtz said he expects things to "run a little bit smoother" in the remaining 14 practices.
Spring practice will wrap up April 16 with the annual spring game at 3 p.m. at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Jeremy Slayton can be reached at (252) 638-8101, ext. 264 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.