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College Football in the Carolinas
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View from the East
Monday, September 10, 2001

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Pirates Discover Bonuses in Big Easy;
South Carolina Still 'Cock of the Roost

©2001 Bonesville.net

East Carolina coach Steve Logan said after the 21-19 season-opening loss to Wake Forest that it’s difficult to tell what you’ve just seen about the relative abilities of teams after their first game.

A week later and a 51-24 Conference USA win over Tulane behind them, the Pirates look much more like the team they were thought to be. The qualifying factor is that all three of the Green Wave’s opponents have looked good against their green defense.

Generally it was a good week for the Carolinas’ Division I-A teams.

N.C. State finally got its season started and did so in impressive fashion with a 35-14 win over Indiana.

South Carolina maintained its top ranking in the State Line Power Rankings with a late score to win at Georgia, 14-9.

Clemson and Wake Forest earned victories and respect for their I-AA foes.

North Carolina got a lesson in big-time football from Texas and former Tar Heels coach Mack Brown.

And poor Duke. Victory avoids the Blue Devils like they were door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesmen.

Let’s look at the rankings and the teams individually.


State Line Power Rankings© [091001]

  • 1. South Carolina ... Phil Petty knows how to celebrate a birthday under the lights and between the hedges.

  • 2. Clemson ... Wofford’s single wing lives on in Death Valley.

  • 3. Wake Forest ... Deacons show some resilience in coming back to beat Appalachian State.

  • 4. East Carolina ... Now that’s more like it.

  • 5. N.C. State ... Opening performance worth the wait for Wolfpack fans.

  • 6. North Carolina ... Way overscheduled.

  • 7. Duke ... Close, but no victory cigar.


UPDATING THE CAROLINAS

EAST CAROLINA:

The Pirates came back from New Orleans with what they went there for, a 1-0 record in C-USA. But there were also some bonuses procured in the Big Easy.

The offense showed depth and talent, and received a needed confidence boost. The defense made big plays. Turnovers — four for Tulane and none for the Pirates — were an important stat and reflected ECU’s efficiency on both sides of the ball.

Marvin Townes showed great promise as a successor to Keith Stokes in the return game.

Coach Steve Logan talked about Townes last year in whispered tones when his teammates had difficulty tackling him in practice. “He’s got some moves you can’t coach,” Logan would say.

Logan had a similar reverence for David Garrard during the quarterback’s redshirt year. Great ability is not easily concealed.

The schedule set up nicely with the trip to Syracuse’s Carrier Dome following the game at the Louisiana Superdome. Coach Logan would have to like the sequential situation in terms of preparation for this week.

The Pirates will undoubtedly see a better, more physical football team at Syracuse as well as a larger partisan crowd.  But they have already dealt successfully with a number of the adjustment factors of playing indoors, going back to the 2000 season-ending bowl triumph in the Astrodome.

Some interesting numbers from the Superdome:

218 yards rushing by Leonard Henry, 539 yards of total offense, 178 yards in kickoff returns by Townes and eight tackles by senior inside linebacker Pernell Griffin.

Wait a minute, just eight tackles? After setting a school record with 24 stops against Wake Forest, Griffin has an almost impossible standard to live up to. He met Wake’s run-oriented offense head on while Tulane threw the ball all over the place.

Griffin’s tackle numbers may increase after the Pirate coaches go through the Green Wave game tape thoroughly. Tackle stats, especially for visiting teams, are often suspect. Senior cornerback Charlie Robinson was credited with a team-high 10 tackles by the Tulane stat crew.

A final thought on the Tulane game:

Mostly lost in the big numbers from the Big Easy was the largely-unheralded college debut of freshman quarterback Paul Troth. A possible redshirt season was burned, but what was the significance of his entrance in the bigger picture?

Obviously, Garrard plans to be in the NFL next season so maybe Logan was saying, ‘This is the next guy. We’re going to start getting him ready to wear the mantle.’

Troth, who enrolled at ECU in January and already has a spring practice under his belt, didn’t attempt a pass. He has added about 20 pounds since arriving on campus and Logan has said, “His arms look like a college quarterback’s now.”

Troth, whose dad, Mike, played for the Pirates, handed off to Townes for ECU’s final score at Tulane. Maybe that was a glimpse of the future.


SOUTH CAROLINA:

Troth just turned 19 on August 19, but South Carolina quarterback Phil Petty celebrated his 23rd birthday on Saturday night in rare style. Petty delivered a 14-9 Gamecocks victory in the first game in the series under the lights at Sanford Stadium.

Petty hit wide receiver Brian Scott for a 16-yard score with 1:22 left after the Bulldogs had thrilled a sellout crowd of 86,250 by going in front on a 27-yard field goal by Billy Bennett with 3:17 left. Scott made a great individual effort on the winning catch.

As Coach Logan says, “Be prepared to win on the last play.” Scott’s grab wasn’t the last play but an interception by sophomore linebacker Jeremiah Garrison, coming back from an opening game suspension, effectively sealed South Carolina’s first win at Athens since 1993.

Back to back wins over the Dawgs further substantiates the legitimacy of the Lou Holtz era.

Petty moved the Gamecocks 67 yards on the winning drive and South Carolina converted three times on third-and-10.

“People always talk about how he’s not the most talented guy in the world,” said USC offensive coordinator Skip Holtz, Lou’s son, of Petty. “But if intelligence and playing with heart is talent, then he’s very talented.”

Petty sprained his wrist on a hit on the winning touchdown pass but came back out to take the final snaps as the Gamecocks ran out the clock.

South Carolina’s defense held Georgia without a touchdown, the first time in 22 games the Dawgs had been so limited. It was the first time since 1904, a 2-0 South Carolina win, that the Gamecocks had accompished such a feat against Georgia.


CLEMSON:

The wing-T offense is so old it’s new, difficult to play against it because defenses never see it. But Clemson saw it first hand on Saturday as Wofford ran for 276 yards, including 204 in the first half, in a 38-14 Terriers loss to the Tigers that set new records for frustration levels for Clemson defensive coordinator Reggie Herring.

“I don’t ever want to play a wing-T option team again,” Herring said. “I would rather schedule the Green Bay Packers.”

Herring is on crutches as he recovers from surgery for a torn Achilles tendon. Tigers defensive tackle Nick Eason said Herring vented his feelings on a locker room chalkboard with a crutch at the half.

“He was fired up mad, red,” Eason said. “Spit everywhere.”

Wofford led 14-7 early in the second quarter.

“I would have liked to shut them out but they got 14 points,” said Clemson coach Tommy Bowden. “If a team like that gets behind, they’re going to run the ball regardless, that’s their style. You’re always going to give up a lot of rushing yards because, even if they’re down by 30, they’re going to run the ball.”

Clemson had 483 yards of total offense, including 207 yards passing by quarterback Woodrow Dantzler. The Tigers are 34-0-1 in their history when they have over 200 yards rushing and over 200 yards passing.

The physicality of the Terriers was evident as Clemson released a list on Sunday of six Tigers players injured in the Wofford game. Four of those, including star safety Eric Sampson, are questionable for this week’s game with Duke.


WAKE FOREST:

The Deacons were on shaky ground after turning the ball over twice inside their 20 and falling behind Appalachian State 10-3 in the second quarter.

Then the Mountaineers, ranked No. 3 in Division I-AA and winners of three of their last four at Wake, drove from their 49 for a first down at the Deacs’ 17.

But Wake’s defense made a stand, the Apps missed a 29-yard field goal attempt, and James MacPherson drove Wake for a field goal to get within 10-6 as the first half closed.

Wake defensive end Nate Bolling told his teammates not to panic at the break and the Deacons didn’t, rallying with two third-quarter touchdowns, the go-ahead score coming on a 23-yard pass from Anthony Young to Fabian Davis.

“We played hard and intense at East Carolina but not a lot of our fans saw us play,” said first-year Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe. “The thing we didn’t want to do was stump our toe in front of the home crowd.”

The Wake fans ultimately liked what they saw.

Grobe remains committed to his two-quarterback system for the time being. Tarence Williams ran for 116 yards on 25 carries and the Deacons defense limited the Apps to just 95 total yards in the second half. ASU was beset by seven penalties in the second half for 66 yards.

“They took advantage of our mistakes,” said ASU coach Jerry Moore. “We played hard, but we were just too inconsistent on offense and penalties just took us out of it. Those were just about impossible to overcome.”

Grobe said his team kept their heads up despite the early adversities.

“The thing I’m most proud of about this team is that they like to play and they will play you hard,” Grobe said.

There are no more games scheduled between Appalachian and Wake, a series that began in 1975 and led 14-7-1 by the Deacons. Grobe was candid about his reasons for not wanting to play the Mountaineers.

“You’ve got to understand my motivation,” said the Wake coach. “I don’t want them on the schedule because they’re a great football team.”


N.C. STATE:

The Wolfpack looked good before a national audience on ESPN in its 35-14 win over visiting Indiana.

With Antwaan Randle El rendered a virtual non-factor by his move to receiver, the Hoosiers didn’t score until less than six minutes were left.

Randle El looked very un-Heisman like with just 67 yards rushing and receiving combined. He did complete one pass for seven yards.

“We showed some quickness up front,” said NCSU coach Chuck Amato. “We subbed a lot to keep people fresh. Our linebackers chased well as a group.”

The Pack coach cited the defensive efforts of junior college transfers Terrance Martin, Terrance Chapman and Shawn Price.

State’s 21-0 halftime lead was helped by two blocked punts that led to nine points as the Pack continued to make things happen with that dimension of special teams play.

Philip Rivers opened his sophomore season by completing 22 of 33 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns, including a 55-yarder to Bryan Peterson in the third quarter and two scores to tight end Willie Wright.

“We came in thinking we could dominate,” Wright said. The Pack should be thinking the same thing this Thursday night against Ohio.


NORTH CAROLINA:

The methodical manner in which Texas decimated the Tar Heels was impressive and in stark contrast to the emotion-based effort that Oklahoma displayed earlier in the season against UNC.

UNC was effectively out of the game after tying the score at 14 with 12:40 left in the first half. Texas was just getting started. Mack Brown has done much of the same thing he did in Chapel Hill, recruit excellent personnel and rely on talent.

Young offensive line, inconsistent play at quarterback, and a defense that’s on the field too long — the themes have recurred in UNC’s 0-3 start.

After a likely win over SMU this week in Coach John Bunting’s first home game, the schedule intensifies again with Florida State visting Chapel Hill and the Heels going to Raleigh to play State before ECU visits on Oct. 6.


DUKE:

The Blue Devils battled valiantly at Rice but a two-point run try with 1:36 left was stopped and Duke was left on the short end of a 15-13 score for its 14th straight loss.

Chris Douglas provided a bright spot in the loss with 30 carries for 112 yards.

Duke outgained the Owls, coached by former Clemson mentor Ken Hatfield, 328 yards to 270 but the Devils had three turnovers to one for their hosts.

Duke regained possession with 40 seconds remaining but D. Bryant was intercepted by Greg Gatlin with 24 seconds left.

Bryant finished with 15 completions in 25 attempts for 189 yards with the lone, late pick. His 3-yard scoring pass to Nick Brzezinski pulled Duke within 15-13.

Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.

Click here to dig into Al Myatt's Bonesville archives.

08/05/2007 02:33:50 AM
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