Over there in Greenville ...
Coach Ruffin McNeill’s East Carolina Pirates were putting in work Monday in Greenville, getting right for later this month when first-year N.C. Central coach Jerry Mack brings his Eagles to ECU’s Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for the first game of the season for both teams on Aug. 30 ( 8 p.m., ESPNews).
It was the first workout for the upcoming season for the Pirates, who certainly will be trying to prove that there’s more where their Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl win last season came from. Those guys are on the move with seven postseason appearances in the past eight years. ECU has a new home in the American Athletic Conference and return a serious, senior quarterback in Shane Carden, who’s got this wide receiver with real nice hands.
Carden was the most valuable player in Conference USA in 2013 after throwing for 4,139 yards, a single-season record at ECU. He completed nearly 71 percent of his passes (387 of 549), which was second best in all of the Football Bowl Subdivision.
ECU wide receiver Justin Hardy caught 114 of those passes for 1,284 yards, single-season Pirates records. He scored eight touchdowns. Hardy caught more balls than anybody in Conference USA.
Carden last season tossed 33 touchdowns and ran for another 10.
Now, NCCU has a bad boy in its defensive backfield named Michael Jones, who’s coming off a strong freshman season.
Carden and Hardy will be looking to initiate a sophomore slump for that young man.
Herald-Sun sports writer John McCann is on Twitter: @johntmccann.