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College Football in the Carolinas


View from the East
Monday, August 27, 2001

By Al Myatt
Pirate Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Heels' Early Snafus Call to Mind ECU vs. VPI


North Carolina’s 41-27 season-opening loss at Oklahoma was reminiscent of East Carolina’s 45-28 loss to Virginia Tech early last season. Both Carolina teams made early mistakes against highly-regarded opponents and were effectively out of the game at halftime.

But to the Pirates’ credit last year and in the Tar Heels’ favor on Saturday night, each came out and earned some respect in the second half.

Ultimately, UNC coach John Bunting probably made a good decision to face the Sooners. His defense played well although five turnovers by the offense and special teams were typical of a first game against a defending national champion.

Bunting may also have found a quarterback who will challenge Ronald Curry. Although not as tall or heavy, Heels redshirt freshman quarterback Darian Durant does resemble ECU senior David Garrard.

Durant came in during the third quarter with the Sooners holding the 41-14 lead they had established in the first half. He drove UNC for two scores, capping each drive with a touchdown pass.

Curry’s numbers were five completions in 14 attempts for 74 yards with one interception and no touchdowns. He ran 10 times for a net of minus-8 yards.

Durant completed 12 of 26 for 152 yards without a pick and had two TD tosses. He ran four times for 39 yards and his teammates seemed to rally around him while the ESPN cameras trained their stare on a sullen Curry on the sideline.

Curry played early in the game when the Oklahoma defense was more aggressive.

QB Controversy? Curry No. 1 for Now

Bunting just wanted to see how Durant would play under fire. Now fans may be stoking the flames of a quarterback controversy.

“I wasn’t sure if the game was out of hand,” said the first-year UNC coach. “I wanted to get our backup quarterback some work. I wanted to see if we could move the ball with a second quarterback.”

Durant’s performance doesn’t mean Bunting will abandon Curry.

“Ronald Curry is my quarterback right now, but Darian is going to play some quarterback for us this year,” Bunting said. “There’s no doubt about it. He (Durant) is a gutty performer. He’s a playmaker.”

The Heels are really young in the offensive line and it showed in a running game which averaged just 1.8 yards on 35 carries.

With 27 points off of UNC turnovers resulting in the comfortable lead, the Sooners became conservative with their play calling and got some playing time for their backup QB as well.

UNC led 20-12 in first downs, a misleading stat that resulted from Durant’s late effectiveness and the Sooners’ inexperience at quarterback.

The good things for Bunting: his defense looks tough, no major injuries and the Heels will go to Maryland for their ACC opener with the decided advantage of having gotten their first game out of the way.

The trip to Norman could have been much worse for Carolina and many a coach has said a team improves more from its first to its second game than at any other point in the season. ECU followed its loss to the Hokies last season by piling up 505 yards of total offense in a 37-17 win over Tulane.

ECU’s 2001 strength of schedule wasn’t enhanced by the first wave of games. Pirates opponents went 1-4 with Louisville’s 45-24 win over New Mexico State the only win by an ECU foe.

Nebraska topped TCU 21-7, Brigham Young rolled past Tulane 70-35, and Georgia Tech edged Syracuse 13-7.



IMPORTANT: Getting second team personnel in a game frame of mind for the season opener with Wake Forest at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium this Saturday at 7 p.m.

QUOTE: “The upperclassmen have a handle on what's going on, but we need the younger guys to pick it up a little bit, start making the reads, and making the hot throws. Right now, the goal is to get the second string guys going and to make sure they're ready to play Wake Forest." — ECU quarterback David Garrard.

NOTES: ECU is 2-0 against the Deacons in Greenville, including a 20-10 win in the dedication game at Ficklen Stadium in 1963. The Pirates rallied from a 21-0 deficit for a 25-24 victory in 1997. ... ECU is 31-14 at home since 1992. ... The Pirates are 5-4 in home openers under Coach Steve Logan. ... Linebacker Pernell Griffin has been named to the Butkus Award watch list.


IMPORTANT: The new defensive alignment has four down linemen, two linebackers, two cornerbacks and three safeties.

QUOTE: “Travis has worked hard and is deserving of any preseason honors. He should have a productive year and should be considered. He has made a lot of strides since I have been here.” — Clemson coach Tommy Bowden after Tigers running back Travis Zachery was named to the preseason list for the Doak Walker Award.

NOTES: Tigers defensive coordinator Reggie Herring is usually on the sideline during games sending in the defensive signals but because of surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon last week he will be in the press box for the season opener against Central Florida on Saturday. ... Central Florida has 12 starters back from a 7-4 team that opened last season with a 21-17 loss at Georgia Tech. ... The Tigers have never played the Knights. ... No college quarterback has ever gained 1,000 yards rushing and passed for 2,000 yards in a regular season but Clemson’s Heisman candidate, Woodrow Dantzler was close in 2000 with 1,028 rushing and 1,871 passing.


IMPORTANT: Pay little attention to what Coach Lou Holtz says about an opponent.

QUOTE: “Boise State presents a lot of problems for any team they play. They have a new coaching staff and you’re not certain of what they’re going to do. I’d say they should be a top 20 team based on what they’ve done the past two years. They led the country in scoring offense last season and they have most everyone back.” — Coach Lou Holtz.

NOTES: Boise State averaged 44.3 points last season but has just six starters back on offense and lost its quarterback. The Broncos return just three starters from a defense that allowed 22.8 points. ... Holtz has been pleased with the progress of redshirt freshman quarterback Dondrial Pinkins, who could play a backup role. ... Junior tailback Derek Watson has been slowed by a hamstring ailment.


IMPORTANT: Philip Rivers threw for 330 yards and five touchdowns in a scrimmage Saturday.

QUOTE: “Our scrimmage was definitely two different halves. We had total domination by the defense in the first half, and total domination by the offense in the second half.” — Coach Chuck Amato.

NOTES: Indiana opened the 2000 season with a 41-38 loss at home to State and opens the season with the Wolfpack again on Thursday, Sept. 6 in Raleigh. ... The Pack blocked four field goals and three punts last season. ... State came from behind in six of its eight wins last season, outscoring opponents 127-68 in the fourth quarter. ... ECU will play State every three years beginning in 2004. That game will be at Ericsson Stadium in Charlotte. The Pack and Pirates will meet in 2007 and 2013 in Raleigh, and in 2010 and 2016 in Greenville.


IMPORTANT: The Tar Heels outscored No. 3 Oklahoma 13-0 in the second half Saturday night.

QUOTE: “That was the longest first quarter I’ve ever been involved with in my life. I didn’t think it was going to end. I thought maybe they were adding time to the clock.” — UNC coach John Bunting, whose team trailed the Sooners 31-7 after 13 minutes, 28 seconds.

NOTES: Former walk-on David Thornton, a linebacker who played at Goldsboro High, drew raves from ESPN’s broadcast team of Ron Franklin and Mike Gottfried. ... UNC leads the series with Maryland 35-27-1. The Terps are 15-11 at home against the Heels. ... First-year Terps coach Ralph Friedgen lettered at Maryland as an offensive lineman after playing quarterback in high school. ... UNC scored more points (27) in one game against Oklahoma than it had in six previous games (19). The Sooners, who defeated Carolina 41-7 in 1980, matched their highest point total against the Heels. ... ECU-UNC games have been agreed to for 2010 in Chapel Hill and 2011 in Greenville. A 2003 game in Greenville is already contracted in addition to the game Oct. 6 in Chapel Hill this season. ... UNC starting tailback Willie Parker, who initially committed to ECU, had 11 carries for 14 yards against Oklahoma.


IMPORTANT: Conditioning was an area that was questioned when Jim Caldwell coached the Deacons.

QUOTE: “Our guys are pretty tired and a little worn out. ... I think the players are glad to be out of two-a-days and I think the coaches are glad to be out of two-a-days.” — Coach Jim Grobe.

NOTES: Grobe brought his Ohio team to Greenville in 1996 and lost 55-45. ECU beat his Bobcats 21-14 at Ohio in 1998. ... The Deacons have 19 returning starters among position players from a 2-9 team in 2000. ... Tarence Williams averaged 5.1 yards per carry last season. ... Grobe brought seven assistant coaches with him from Ohio.


IMPORTANT: In nine games since 1992, Florida State, Duke’s opening opponent on Sept. 1, has averaged 54.7 points in its nine wins over the Blue Devils.

QUOTE: “I’ve really been pleased with his progress. I feel a lot better with him going into the season because of the experience he had last year and the amount of practice plays he’s had a chance to get in since then. He’s in good shape running our offense.” — Duke coach Carl Franks on quarterback D. Bryant.

NOTES: Duke has lost 12 straight games. ... Franks has a two-year record of 3-19. ... Steve Spurrier was the last Blue Devils coach with a winning record, going 20-13-1 from 1987 to ’89. Duke’s last winning record was an 8-4 season under Fred Goldsmith in 1994. ... Bryant played in 13 games for the Duke basketball team in the 1998-99 season.

Al Myatt's State Line Power Rankings© [082701]

  1. South Carolina ... Early schedule looks soft, allowing the Gamecocks to build momentum.

  2. Clemson ... The Tigers have launched quarterback Woodrow Dantzler for the Heisman Trophy.

  3. East Carolina ... David Garrard’s senior season should be one to remember.

  4. N.C. State ... Wolfpack will open against a Heisman candidate, Indiana’s Antwaan Randle-El, who has moved to receiver.

  5. North Carolina ... Survived Oklahoma in respectable fashion after a dismal start.

  6. Wake Forest ... Deacons are groping for hope under Grobe.

  7. Duke ... The unanswered question: Who can Duke beat?

Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.

02/23/2007 01:02:58 AM

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