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College Football in the Carolinas

View from the East
Thursday, September 20, 2001

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

'No Fly Zones' Won't Stop Football


There have been many signs of changing times in our society in response to last week’s terrorist attacks and college football in the Carolinas has been affected, too.

“No fly zones” will be in effect over stadiums when South Carolina plays at Mississippi State, Florida State visits North Carolina, and Clemson hosts Virginia.

The Federal Aviation Administration has barred flights over those locations within a mile radius of the stadiums and up to an altitude of 3,000 feet. So you shouldn’t be seeing the little twin engines pulling an advertising message at those games.

Military, police or medical aircraft are exceptions. Life flight helicopters to Memorial Hospital are routine in the environs of Kenan Stadium.

East Carolina athletic director Mike Hamrick has said there will be an “increased security presence” when the Pirates host William & Mary.

Containers, bags, and purses have always been subject to searches for fans entering Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Now, bombs and weapons will be the objects of scrutiny rather than flasks of spirits.

The fine line that game administrators will try to walk is to make fans feel safe without feeling inconvenienced by security measures.

Clemson has banned backpacks, tote bags and other carryalls from being brought into the stadium. Once inside Memorial Stadium fans will not be allowed to exit and re-enter — a new “no pass out” policy.

Bomb squad experts and bomb-sniffing dogs will be on hand to check vehicles parked near the stadium. Spectators at Clemson have been advised to carry photo identification.

The Division I-AA playoffs have been moved back a week.

Virginia coach Al Groh made some remarks about U.S. citizens of Arab descent which were perceived as inappropriate during the ACC teleconference on Wednesday. University president John Casteen and athletic director Craig Littlepage issued statements designed to deflate the issue.

“I am sorry if my remarks were insensitive,” Groh said later. “Like many American citizens, my emotions are near the surface after last week’s tragedy, especially since people in the town I lived in for four years, some of whom I know, are missing.

“I certainly did not mean to insinuate that millions of sensitive, God-fearing people of Arabic descent are terrorists. I hope we can all focus on the significant issues of recovery and the future of our country. That is done through unity and not divisiveness. That, and coaching my team, will be my focus.”

Our focus for the moment in today's View from the East will be the upcoming games and how they may turn out. The record thus far for the season is 10-3.

Saturday, Sept. 22, 3:30 p.m.


With the next three games on the road, the Pirates need to continue the momentum of a 51-24 win at Tulane two weeks ago.

ECU linebacker Greg LeFever said the Pirates “need to prove themselves to the home fans” after dropping the season opener to Wake Forest.

In his 22 seasons as head coach of the Tribe, Coach Jimmye Laycock has 11 wins over Division I-A opponents.

Pirates coach Steve Logan has said this game will be William & Mary’s “Super Bowl” because of the opportunity for recognition against a nationally-reputable program.

Logan also said the Tribe’s schemes have a strong resemblance to those used by the Pirates. He said W&M quarterback David Corley reminds him of Marcus Crandell.


As a Division I-A program, ECU is allowed 85 players on scholarship. Division I-AA programs such as the Tribe’s get 63 grants. That alone is a factor that should help the Pirates eventually wear down William & Mary with their superior depth.

ECU used more players at Tulane (64) than W&M has on scholarship. But Logan has cautioned that starting personnel are comparable so it will be up to those who are second and third in rotations on their units to step it up and make a difference.

Pirates defensive coordinator Tim Rose has said the design is to have a great effort on every play and that is why ECU keeps substituting fresh bodies.

That should eventually prove decisive.


If ECU doesn’t gain a quick advantage by forcing an early turnover or springing a big play offensively, it’s difficult to see the Pirates unable to wear down their I-AA challengers over the long haul.

The programs used to be semi-competitive when both were in the Southern Conference and in the years immediately thereafter. That shouldn’t be the case as the old rivalry resumes.

PREDICTION: East Carolina 36, William & Mary 17.

Thursday, Sept. 20, 7:30 p.m.


Mississippi State has some pretty impressive numbers that the Gamecocks will try to overcome. Going back to the start of the 1998 season, the Bulldogs are 17-1 at home. That includes 13 straight wins at home.

They are 6-1 on Thursday night games on ESPN. Coach Jackie Sherrill’s club has won four of its last five Southeastern Conference openers. Bulldogs quarterback Wayne Madkin has more wins (24) as a starter at his position than anyone in school history.

“I think why even get on the airplane and go,” said USC coach Lou Holtz about the Bulldogs’ seeming invincibility.

But USC prevailed 23-19 last year in Columbia against some long odds and thanks to a 25-yard touchdown pass from back-up quarterback Erik Kimrey to Jermale Kelly on a fourth-and-10 situation with under five minutes left. That was part of 13 unanswered fourth-quarter points for the Gamecocks and contributed to Mississippi State’s first loss in 16 games when it was leading after three quarters.


The Associated Press ranks the Bulldogs No. 17 and the Gamecocks No. 18. Mississippi State is allowing just 2.41 yards per carry going back to the 1999 season, so the passing of USC quarterback Phil Petty will be important.

Mississippi State’s offensive coordinator is former Gamecocks coach Sparky Woods. The Bulldogs have numbers. They used 69 players and finished strong in their only game to date, a 30-10 win over Memphis.


Mississippi State’s wrecking ball style will eventually bring down the Gamecocks.

PREDICTION: Mississippi State 21, South Carolina 17.

Saturday, Sept. 22, 12 noon


Since these teams began playing ACC games in 1992, Florida State has averaged a victory margin of 25.2 points in Tallahassee and 22.2 points in Chapel Hill in winning all nine matchups. Last year’s 65-14 win at home for the Seminoles was the biggest in the series.

FSU redshirt freshman quarterback Chris Rix completed 15 of 23 passes for 246 yards and one touchdown in a 29-7 win over UAB on Sept. 8. The Noles have allowed an average of just 57.5 yards rushing in two wins.

North Carolina has struggled to an 0-3 start against a schedule ranked fourth-toughest nationally in the Sagarin ratings.

First-year coach John Bunting has said he will use quarterback Darian Durant earlier in the game since senior Ronald Curry has had difficulty moving the team.

“We have talked about both quarterbacks,” said Noles coach Bobby Bowden. “Curry is probably a little more dangerous on the ground.”

Bowden said FSU would probably double-team UNC’s outstanding defensive end, Julius Peppers, who had two sacks in last year’s game.


This is UNC’s first home game, which should provide a boost, especially after trips to Oklahoma and Texas.

One wonders if Duke can lead the Seminoles for 18 minutes, shouldn’t Carolina have a chance at an upset. UNC’s quality defensive front will be a key against an FSU offense that has allowed Rix to be sacked just once in two games.

UNC tailback Willie Parker is doubtful with an ankle injury. FSU tailback Nick Maddox returns to his home state.

Much is made about the character or lack thereof of the FSU players and one was shot this past week in an apparent robbery attempt, but among the top eight teams in the final AP poll last season, the Seminoles had the highest graduation rate, 59 percent.


Carolina’s defense has to step up with turnovers to give that faint glimmer of an upset possibility a chance. That’s how N.C. State stunned the Noles in 1998.

The Tar Heels seem too fragmented to make it happen.

PREDICTION: Florida State 33, North Carolina 17.

Saturday, Sept. 22, 3:30 p.m.


Both programs seem to be on the upswing with new coaches and 2-0 starts.

The Terps won 37-7 last year in College Park with their best offensive showing (479 total yards) and largest victory margin of the year.

Maryland has scored 64 points in its last five quarters prompting first-year coach Ralph Friedgen to say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Maryland has not had a turnover with transfer Shaun Hill in at quarterback.

Wake has averaged 417 total yards with its no-huddle offense, compared to 326 yards per game last year.

Deacons coach Jim Grobe feels good about a two-quarterback system in which Anthony Young and James MacPherson have alternated series. Each took 37 snaps in a 20-10 win over Appalachian State. Wake junior Tarence Williams leads the ACC in rushing at 137 yards per game.


Following a 7-5 season in 1999 and a 23-3 bowl win over Arizona State, Wake had the fewest returning starters in Division I-A. But Grobe took over a program with 19 returning starters when he replaced Jim Caldwell.

The former coach obviously left some diamonds in the rough which Grobe and his staff have polished up nicely in Wake’s new schemes.

Wake has won just once in its last 13 ACC openers. The Deacs are 3-3 against Maryland when opening league play against the Terps.

Terps sophomore running back Bruce Perry has rushed for over 100 yards in both games. Eight punts from Maryland’s Brooks Barnard have traveled more than 50 yards and he leads the nation with a 46.0-yard average.


Wake could win this game if it takes care of the football. Two turnovers inside its 20 led to 10 early points for Appalachian in the last game.

Maryland performed impressively on both sides of the ball in a 23-7 win over North Carolina and followed that by blasting Eastern Michigan 50-3.

PREDICTION: Maryland 24, Wake Forest 20.

Saturday, Sept. 22, 5:45 p.m.


Clemson leads the series 34-5-1 after winning the first 29 games between the schools. Since Virginia won 20-7 at home in 1990 the series is even at 5-5-1.

The Cavaliers’ ability to deal with Clemson’s running game has been vital in those five wins as they have yielded an average of just 124.4 yards and 3.1 per carry.

Last year Tigers quarterback Woodrow Dantzler had 220 yards on 18 carries in a 31-10 Clemson win at Virginia. Virginia, which has gone to a three-man front, actually has four returning starters on the defensive line.


New Cavs coach Al Groh was 0-6 against Clemson when he was the head man at Wake Forest.

Virginia looked suspect in edging past Richmond 17-16. The Cavs’ 26-17 season-opening loss at Wisconsin was further questioned when the Badgers subsequently lost to emerging power Fresno State. Virginia’s Arlen Harris had averaged 89.0 yards rushing in two games.


Dantzler has yet to look like a Heisman candidate this year but this could be his breakout game.

PREDICTION: Clemson 28, Virginia 17.

Saturday, Sept. 22, 6 p.m.


The Wildcats and Blue Devils shared the national lead in graduation rate with 90 percent in the latest figures but Northwestern has also figured out how to play winning football, a challenge that Duke, with its 14-game losing streak, has not mastered.


Duke has shown some improvement with D.Bryant at quarterback and running back Chris Douglas leads the ACC in all-purpose yardage with 219.5 per game.

Duke coach Carl Franks has been concerned about former Blue Devils teammate Rob Lenoir, who was working on the 104th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center. He has been missing since last week’s terrorist attacks.


Wildcats tailback Damien Anderson and quarterback Zak Kustok should have good games for No. 16 Northwestern.

PREDICTION: Northwestern 28, Duke 14.

Saturday, Sept. 22, 6:30 p.m.


State was 4-0 by Sept. 22 a year ago, but circumstances have limited the Wolfpack to a single impressive 35-14 win over Indiana thus far this season.

Pack quarterback Philip Rivers picked up where he left off a year ago as he completed 22 of 33 for 243 yards and three touchdowns against the Hoosiers.

State will have to play with the same intensity and enthusiasm it did at home in the relatively lethargic atmosphere of Gerald J. Ford Stadium to properly subdue the Mustangs, who have never recovered from severe NCAA sanctions more than a decade ago. SMU has averaged just 55.5 yards rushing in losses to Louisiana Tech (36-6) and TCU (38-10).


The Mustangs have had four defensive touchdowns scored on them in those two games. The Mustangs defense, led by linebacker Vic Viloria, has allowed a respectable average of just 267.5 total yards in two games.

State routed SMU 41-0 in Raleigh last year and appears to have a better defensive front this year. The Pack blocked two Indiana punts, a staple of State special teams play.


State will tune up for next week’s game with Carolina.

PREDICTION: N.C. State 31, SMU 6.

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02/23/2007 01:03:06 AM

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