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College Football in the Carolinas

View from the East
Thursday, September 6, 2001

By Al Myatt
Pirate Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Wave Not Another Big Question Mark


There’s little to crow about in terms of the picks record thus far, 4-2. Early in the season there are a lot of mismatches.

I’ll have to blame last week’s 3-2 mark on the ability of new coaches. Ralph Friedgen at Maryland and Jim Grobe at Wake Forest crossed me up with the improvement their programs showed in their respective debuts.

No excuses this week as East Carolina opens Conference USA play at Tulane, N.C. State begins its season at home against Indiana with a Thursday nighter on ESPN, North Carolina visits Texas, and Wake Forest hosts Division I-AA power Appalachian State.

South of the border, Clemson is at home to Wofford and South Carolina steps over to play Georgia.

Let’s make a stab as to what’s in store:

Saturday, Sept. 8, 3:30 p.m.


The home team has won every game in this brief series, which ECU leads, 3-1 — a little bit of history the Pirates must be intent on changing to get off on the right foot in their bid to win a Conference USA championship.

Tulane likes to spread the defense and throw its way down the field, although sophomore Mewelde Moore’s running ability has to be respected. The Green Wave defense plays an inordinate number of freshmen and has been riddled for 118 points in losses to Brigham Young and LSU.


ECU’s offense needs to be more consistent, particularly on the ground after netting just 63 yards last week. The Pirates defense also got dented for some big numbers — 451 totals yards, including 294 rushing.

Part of the problem was that ECU really couldn’t prepare effectively for Wake Forest because it didn’t know what the Deacons’ new coaching staff was going to present.  In contrast, the Pirates have had two tapes of the Green Wave to study this week.

Pirates coach Steve Logan is taking the team to New Orleans on Friday for a workout to get adjusted to the Louisiana Superdome. With a trip to Syracuse next week, ECU will have played three of four games in domes, including last year’s bowl win at the Astrodome.


There’s practically no facet of ECU’s offense that shouldn’t be effective. The Pirates will stop the Wave often enough to start 1-0 in the league.

PREDICTION: East Carolina 35, Tulane 24.

Thursday, Sept. 6, 7:30 p.m.


History is working for the Wolfpack.  State is 13-2 in season openers since 1986 and leads the series with Indiana 3-0.

Philip Rivers has thrown the ball impressively in preseason camp which is either an indication he is ready for a big sophomore season or an early indictment of his team's defense.

One question the Pack must answer is how well it can deal with the loss of gamebreaking receiver/returner Koren Robinson. Robinson was responsible for over one-third of Rivers’ 3,054 passing yards.

The ground attack could flourish if Ray Robinson and the offensive front stay healthy.

Levar Fisher is a great linebacker but State needs to be stronger than it was a year ago against the run. Some talented defensive personnel, linebacker Clayton White and defensive back Adrian Wilson, are no longer around.


State doesn’t know where Indiana’s Antwaan Randle El will line up but the Hoosiers almost seem more wrapped up in promoting him for the Heisman Trophy and fronting him for the NFL than team success. Wherever he is, quarterback or receiver, Randle El should provide a big-play dimension.

State’s record season ticket base, over 31,000, won’t be coming out to remodeled Carter-Finley Stadium to see Indiana’s hot shot, however.

Indiana may be better than last year on defense when State rallied to win the season opener 41-38 at Bloomington. There are eight starters back on defense, including Butkus Award candidate Justin Smith although the unit allowed an average of 38.5 points per game during a 3-8 season. Coach Cam Cameron has reportedly brought in some highly-regarded junior college defensive backs.


State won’t disappoint its burgeoning following as the Wolfpack’s speed will be a deciding factor.

PREDICTION: N.C. State 31, Indiana 20.

Saturday, Sept. 8, Noon


High noon in Texas but this shootout figures to be one-sided. The new sheriff in Chapel Hill, John Bunting, can’t do a lot about it. There just aren’t many bullets apparently in Carolina’s gun.

Not much love lost here. Texas coach Mack Brown created a lot of ill will in Chapel Hill with his departure after UNC had built him a $60 million football palace beyond the West end zone.

Brown got more salary from the Longhorns and felt he was always going to be playing second fiddle to basketball at UNC. His players resented the blatant deceit with which he told them he would stay at Carolina — and then shortly afterwards accepted the job in Austin.


The quarterback issue was moot at Maryland because neither Ronald Curry nor imminent successor Darian Durant moved the team. The lone UNC touchdown came on a 77-yard run by Willie Parker on the first play from scrimmage as UNC scored early but not often in a 23-7 loss to the Terps.

The Tar Heels’ strength, its defense, will see the most-talented offense it has faced. One factor that could work in UNC’s favor is that Mack might have a hard time convincing his team to take the game seriously.


Bunting planned strenuous practices this week in Chapel Hill, which could prove counterproductive if the Tar Heels wear out early in the Texas heat.

Some of the Heels should have some extra emotion playing against the coach who recruited them to UNC.

Where is the confidence level? That’s the question. The Longhorns won’t miss a chance to solidify their position in the polls.

PREDICTION: Texas 34, North Carolina 14.

Saturday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m.


The Tigers hope a fill-in game with the Terriers proves to be the same kind of omen as the last time the teams met in 1981. Villanova was scheduled to play Clemson that season but the Wildcats dropped football the preceding April. Wofford, then an NAIA program, was enlisted as a replacement. The Tigers rolled over the Terriers 45-10 that season and went on to win the national championship.

Tulane, where Tommy Bowden used to coach, canceled a game with Clemson this year and once again the Tigers made a call to Spartanburg to schedule the Terriers.

This one matches two ranked teams although the Tigers are No. 19 in Division I-A while Wofford is No. 24 in I-AA.


The 20-scholarship differential favors the Tigers who should be able to wear Wofford down if their superior size and speed doesn’t do the job first. Central Florida was a tough opening act but Wofford figures to be a highlight opportunity for Woodrow Dantzler’s Heisman Trophy candidacy.


Wofford may keep it close for a while but a blowout appears inevitable.

PREDICTION: Clemson 45, Wofford 7.

Saturday, Sept. 8, 6:30 p.m.


The Mountaineers have won three out of the last four in the series and have proved that a I-AA program doesn’t have to take a back seat to a I-A club. Former Texas Tech coach Jerry Moore perenially has the Apps in the playoffs and recruits well in the midst of ACC-SEC country.

New Wake coach Jim Grobe was impressed by what he saw in tape of the Apps’ 46-26 win over Liberty.

The series, which Wake leads 13-7-1, has always been played in Winston-Salem although the Mountaineers often have the edge in fan support because of Wake’s small enrollment.


The Deacons don’t have any experience in handling big victories such as last week’s 21-19 shocker in Greenville, a factor that concerned Grobe this week.

He brought out the best in some talent that many didn’t realize Wake possessed last week and that should spur fan interest this week. It’s a nice opportunity for the Deacons to get on a roll and they surely won’t be taking a program lightly that beat them 20-16 on their home field last year.

Grobe appears committed to his two-quarterback system for the time being and he’s looking for another strong effort from running back Tarence Williams. Wake’s top receiver a year ago, Ira Williams, may be cleared to play after missing the ECU game.

ASU has 17 starters back from a 10-4 team, including quarterback Joe Burchette, who completed 15 of 28 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns against Liberty.


The games in the series have generally been close but new coach Jim Grobe should figure out a way to reverse the recent trend of losses to the Apps and make superior numbers work in Wake’s favor.

PREDICTION: Wake Forest 24, Appalachian 20.

Saturday, Sept. 8, 7:45 p.m.


An 8-4 season last year at Georgia wasn’t good enough so the Bulldogs canned former coach Ray Goff and brought in former Florida State offensive coordinator Mark Richt. The Dawgs responded with 598 yards of total offense in a 45-17 win last week over Arkansas State. Richt started redshirt freshman David Greene at quarterback.


A 21-10 win over Georgia last year was the catalyst for an 8-4 turnaround season for the Gamecocks, who were 0-11 in their first year under Lou Holtz. South Carolina intercepted then-Georgia quarterback Quincy Carter five times. South Carolina has 19 starters back from that team.


Turnovers again could be a deciding factor. This one matches up very closely so if either team doesn’t take care of the ball, they could be taking a loss. The home field advantage and the revenge factor favor the Dawgs.

PREDICTION: Georgia 27, South Carolina 21.

Saturday, Sept. 8, 8 p.m.


Rice Stadium, site of Super Bowl VIII, seats 70,000 which means a lot of them will be empty for this one.

The Blue Devils are 4-0 against the Owls, now guided by former Clemson coach Ken Hatfield. The last meeting was in 1992 in Durham, a 17-12 Duke win fueled by 149 yards rushing by the Blue Devils Randy Cuthbert. That’s more or less ancient history now, but so is any semblance of winning football at Duke.


Surprisingly, Duke showed a little bit of explosiveness last week against Florida State, breaking a pass play and a punt return for touchdowns. Special teams breakdowns and Florida State’s overwhelming speed and talent ultimately guaranteed there would be no mega-upset.

Rice ran for 349 yards last week in a 21-14 win over C-USA member Houston.


Rice keeps running. Duke keeps losing — its 14th in a row.

PREDICTION: Rice 28, Duke 17.

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02/23/2007 01:03:01 AM

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