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     College Football in the Carolinas

View from the East
Thursday, September 27, 2001

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Last Week's Shockers Set Stage
for Dandy Saturday Match-Ups


The View from the East must have been kind of cloudy last week as the 4-3 record put the season total at 14-7. Through the mist a group was discerned trying to impersonate the Florida State football team in Chapel Hill and failing miserably.

We saw that Virginia must have been sandbagging in that 17-16 win over Richmond as the Cavaliers were able to stun Clemson in Death Valley with a late score.

And we saw that South Carolina must be for real as they stonewalled a physical Mississippi State team and ended a 13-game home winning streak for the Bulldogs. Lou Holtz’ gang did it on Thursday night for an ESPN audience.

N.C. State’s struggle to slip past SMU and North Carolina’s startling triumph certainly changed the complexion of this week’s showdown in Raleigh.

And Syracuse may be a much better team now than they were two weeks ago when East Carolina was first scheduled to play in the Carrier Dome.

Hopefully the fog has lifted as we make this week’s picks:

Saturday, Sept. 29, 1:30 p.m.


Pirates coach Steve Logan went home and watched Syracuse’s 31-14 win on television on Saturday night. It’s a wonder if he got any sleep after seeing the revamped Orangemen in their best effort of the season.

“I think our task got a little more severe with what happened in the Carrier Dome,” Logan said. “I went home and watched that game and they [Syracuse] just beat the living fool out of Auburn in every phase of the game. That was Auburn University, an SEC team, and they’ve got a lot of talent down there, but it wasn’t much of a contest.”

Logan speculated that Syracuse may have faced a bit of a confidence deficit after losses to Georgia Tech and Tennessee. Since then sophomore R.J. Anderson has supplanted junior Troy Nunes at quarterback.

“The quarterbacks do the same things, run the same plays, but Anderson is a little stronger and a little more mobile so that’s a concern,” said ECU defensive coordinator Tim Rose.

Running back James Mungro ran for a season-high 142 yards and a career-high three touchdowns against Auburn.

“Invariably Syracuse has a tailback that’s just a banger,” Logan said. “You don’t see much of the old-fashioned isolation play anymore where the guard doubles down on the nose guard and the fullback leads ahead on the inside linebacker but you turn the film on and it’s their favorite and best play.”

Syracuse’s smashmouth style could present problems for an ECU defense predicated on speed and pursuit to deal with spread offenses in Conference USA.

ECU hit the ground running in preparations for the Orangemen on Sunday because the scout team had already learned its stuff from when the game was originally scheduled two weeks ago. ECU will practice Friday night at the Dome to get acclimated.

Some contend that last year’s 34-17 loss to ECU in Greenville kept Syracuse, which went 6-5, out of a bowl.

“We feel like we owe them something,” said Syracuse cornerback Will Hunter. “They passed for a lot of yards (201) on us last year. The defensive backs have to go out and prove ourselves.”

David Garrard had three touchdown passes for the Pirates in last year’s game despite wet conditions.


ECU has been getting excellent special teams play.... Marvin Townes leads C-USA in punt and kickoff returns.... Jarad Preston is averaging 45.5 yards per punt and Kevin Miller has made four of five field goal attempts and all 12 of his extra-point tries.... The Pirates are 11 for 11 in the redzone, scoring seven touchdowns and kicking four field goals when getting inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.

Syracuse defensive end Dwight Freeney has two sacks in each of his team’s four games and 24.5 for his career. He was credited with 4.5 sacks last year against Virginia Tech.


ECU should have edges with its offensive diversity and special teams play. Syracuse may be able to overpower the Pirates defensive front and will have the benefit of crowd support. ECU is capable of some big plays that can silence the crowd and redirect their energy toward embattled coach Paul Pasqualoni.

PREDICTION: East Carolina 31, Syracuse 24.

Saturday, Sept. 29, 12:30 p.m.


Checking in with Gamecocks coach Lou Holtz for his evaluation of this week’s Super Bowl caliber opponent:

“Alabama is capable of overpowering us and dominating the line of scrimmage,” Holtz said. “That worries me. Alabama is a very talented team. They are much improved over last year.

“When you play a traditional school like Alabama, you’re playing history, you’re playing national championships, you’re playing Bear Bryant. When you have that tradition, it’s worth some points to you.”

No word if Joe Namath is suiting up for the Tide and I’ve never seen a box score where tradition scored a touchdown.

Holtz did apply a needle in light of the NCAA’s investigation of the Tide.

“Alabama is very talented,” Holtz said. “Teams don’t go on probation for recruiting bad players.”

Alabama managed just 249 yards of total offense last week against Arkansas and ran 50 plays to 86 for the Razorbacks. The Tide’s defense scored 14 of ’Bama’s 31 points and set up another touchdown with a fumble return.


Alabama is 10-0 against USC and last year’s 3-8 Tide team continued the string with a 27-17 win over a Gamecocks squad that went on to finish 8-4 with a win in the Outback Bowl....  The Tide has shut South Carolina out five times and has outscored the Gamecocks 286-50 in the series.


South Carolina will slow Alabama’s run-oriented offense and it will be a night of celebration in Williams-Brice Stadium.

PREDICTION: South Carolina 24, Alabama 17.

Saturday, Sept. 29, Noon


Carolina running back Willie Parker was sidelined because of an ankle injury for last week’s 41-9 win over Florida State.

“That was a big boost for our team,” Parker said. “It made me feel so good I wanted to play even though my ankle was messed up. I was hoping Coach was going to say, ‘Parker, are you ready?’ I would have said, ‘Yes sir.’”

But the Tar Heels have yet to win on the road and the way the two-quarterback deal has emerged is the stuff that controversy is made of.

State receiver Bryan Peterson said, “Carolina has a good defense but we practice against a defense that is quicker every day. Our own.”

There’s been a lot of talk about payback for State’s win in Chapel Hill last year and the 'Pack's subsequent trampling of the NC emblem on the Kenan Stadium turf.

Carolina coach John Bunting respects State’s punt-blocking ability and has high praise for Wolfpack quarterback Philip Rivers.

“Rivers has a very good release,” Bunting said. “It reminds me a bit of Jeff Garcia, a little bit of Dan Marino — very, very quick. He sees things very well. He sees blitzes. He sees receivers.”

State coach Chuck Amato is worried about UNC defensive end Julius Peppers.

“We’ve got to get rid of the ball and we’ve got to put two people on him,” Amato said.


State played nine defensive linemen in the first quarter at SMU.... Heels have played four games to two for the Pack.... There are reports of tickets being scalped for $125.... This is the first meeting in Raleigh since 1997 because of the two games played in Charlotte in 1998 and ’99.


Discounting the Florida State game as an aberration, possibly due in part to the length of down time beforehand, I’m going with my early take on the matchup. That means State will seize control and feed off its enthusiastic fans.

Remember what happened to State after beating the Seminoles in 1998? They lost the next game at Baylor. Heels could be headed for a similar letdown.

PREDICTION: State 34, Carolina 24.

Saturday, Sept. 29, 3:30 p.m.


Coach Tommy Bowden, can you define must win?

“It’s a game we have to win if we want to win the conference,” Bowden said of the trip to Atlanta. “If you want to win the conference championship, you won’t do it with two losses. So in that regard, it’s a must win.”

The Tigers’ remaining six league games will also be 'must wins' if they can get past a Yellow Jackets team that hasn’t played in three weeks. Most teams practice that long in preseason.


The Heisman candidacy of Woodrow Dantzler is apparently over.... Tigers fans were perturbed with defensive coordinator Reggie Herring after Virginia’s game-winning drive last week.... Clemson is beset by injuries.... Two wide receivers are out and the Tigers have seven more players questionable.


Clemson hasn’t played up to expectations and Georgia Tech hasn’t played in 21 days so there’s a lot of guesswork here. Maybe the Jackets have retained some semblance of cohesion since scoring 70 points on Navy back on Sept. 8.

PREDICTION: Georgia Tech 27, Clemson 21.

Saturday, Sept. 29, 7 p.m.


Think the Seminoles are looking forward to taking some of last week’s frustration out on the Deacons?

“We expect them to be in a bad mood and ready to play,” said Wake coach Jim Grobe. “Unfortunately I think we’re going to catch them at their best.”

Deacons junior wide receiver Fabian Davis knows the situation, too.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” Davis said. “They will be fired up because they just lost a game. We are learning from our loss and will be prepared.”

Wake will have to play better defense than last week when the Deacons allowed Maryland over 500 yards of offense in a 27-20 Terps win.


Wake junior Tarence Williams will be challenged to extend his string of rushing games of over 100 yards to four.... FSU was beset by five turnovers at UNC.... Jason Anderson is emerging as a receiver for the Deacons with an average of 16.8 yards per catch.... James MacPherson had decidedly better numbers at quarterback for Wake last week than did Anthony Young.


FSU has never lost an ACC game at home and it’s not likely to happen this week. The Noles may not be up to their usual standard but that won't matter.

PREDICTION: Florida State 38, Wake Forest 10.

Saturday, Sept. 29, 1 p.m.


It’s pretty simple. Virginia has better players and the momentum of last week’s win at Clemson. Duke has a 15-game losing streak.

“We’re playing with about 36 guys who are playing their first or second year of college football,” noted Duke coach Carl Franks.


Reggie Love, Duke’s leading receiver, could be out with a hamstring injury.... Blue Devils offensive tackle Drew Strojny is out with a shoulder separation.... Virginia coach Al Groh will stick with Bryson Spinner and Matt Schaub in a two-quarterback system.


It shapes up as a school-record 16th straight loss for the Blue Devils.

PREDICTION: Virginia 28, Duke 17.

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02/23/2007 01:03:08 AM

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