East Carolina prepared for challenge at home against NC State

Pirates ready to prove they are up to the task against confident Wolfpack squad.

The North State Journal—The North State Journal
East Carolina wide receiver Jimmy Williams (81) celebrates a touchdown with East Carolina wide receiver Quay Johnson (23) on Saturday

Bulletin board material may or may not still be an accurate description thanks to the digital age in which we live. But whether the words are plastered all over the walls of East Carolina’s football locker room or simply available individually on social media, the Pirates are well aware of the things being said about them by Saturday’s opponent N.C. State.”I live for it,” cornerback Trevon Simmons said. “I can’t wait to see that red and attack it.”Simmons and his teammate really didn’t need much motivation to get fired up for the Wolfpack’s visit to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. It’s only the fourth time in the 29 games between the in-state rivals that they’ve played on the Pirates’ home field.Whether it was needed or not, State added some fuel to the fire earlier this week when coach Dave Doeren said publicly that losing to ECU in 2013 was “the low point in my coaching career” and star defensive end Brandon Chubb offered that the Pirates “shouldn’t be that big of a challenge.”Wolfpack fans also got into the act by debating on their Internet message boards whether ECU should be considered a rival and taunting the folks in Greenville by referring to their school as “Eastern Carolina.”The response from coach Scottie Montgomery and his Pirates has been to have little or no response at all. Perhaps they’re waiting to let their play on the field do their talking for them.”We’re not going to go overboard with this. Our kids know what’s going on,” Montgomery, the former Duke offensive coordinator, said.”We’re going to try to make this about us and not so much the opponent we’re playing. We do understand and feel the gravity of the moment. This is a big-time matchup. I’ve been in the Triangle a lot of my life, so I understand the importance of winning in-state games and being around in-state opponents so close. We’ll be focused and ready to go.”Just don’t mistake that laid-back approach for indifference. As the sellout crowd that’s expected suggests, this game means a lot to ECU — especially those from inside North Carolina.”I was actually committed (to State) from my sophomore year (in high school) until two days before signing day,” quarterback/running back/slot receiver James Summers said. “That right there is bittersweet. I’m ready to hand out a little, you know, when they get here.”It should be noted that ECU has won its last five games against ACC opponents, including a pair of victories against the Wolfpack.All five of those wins came under the direction of former coach Ruffin McNeill.Another victory Saturday would keep the momentum going while helping McNeill’s replacement Montgomery establish himself with his new fan base. It could also come in handy later in the season as the Pirates look to return to a bowl after missing the postseason a year ago.In addition to the short-term ramifications, there’s also the impact the result could potentially have on in-state recruiting, since the staffs at both schools frequently target many of the same players.The Pirates will host approximately 160 high school players at Saturday’s game.”It’s big-time,” Montgomery said. “We are going to have a lot of kids here. This is an in-state rivalry. I love this state, you guys know just from my recruiting. We are going to try to do most of our work in this state.”It’s critically important that we come out and put out a good performance and play really well — offense, defense and special teams.”