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     College Football in the Carolinas

View from the East
Monday, October 1, 2001

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Regarding that Failed Onside Kick...


The teams from south of the border had two big wins while the only victory produced by those to the north came in a head to head matchup.

The Lou Holtz bandwagon is running at full throttle after the Gamecocks rallied from a 36-24 deficit in the final 9:01 for a 37-36 win over Alabama, the first time South Carolina has beaten the Crimson Tide in 11 tries.

Not to be outdone by their Palmetto State neighbors, Clemson edged Georgia Tech 47-44 in overtime as Woodrow Dantzler was finally able to unleash the talent that had the Tigers pushing him for the Heisman.

Hard to believe that Maryland and Virginia are the only ACC teams without a league loss.

State hasn’t had much offense in its last two games and Carolina’s defense had a lot to do with that on Saturday as the Tar Heels won the battle for bragging rights in Raleigh, 17-9.

Wake’s final score at Florida State looked respectable, 48-24, but the Seminoles scored on their first six possessions and led 42-7.

The tribulations continued for Duke, which lost 31-10 at Virginia. That’s a school-record 16-game losing streak.

Time to reshuffle the deck and deal out a new poll for the Division I-A teams in the Carolinas:

State Line Power Rankings© [100101]

1. South Carolina ... Beating Alabama puts some heavy starch in the program’s fabric.
2. Clemson ... Tigers finally showed some teeth in win at Tech.
3. North Carolina ... Johnny B. looking good.
4. East Carolina ... Pirates won in the trenches but lost on the scoreboard at Syracuse.
5. N.C. State ... Hey Chuck, Carrot Top said to call Norm Chow.
6. Wake Forest ... Good numbers at FSU — 432 total yards and 26 first downs.
7. Duke ... As Johnny Carson used to put it, “What can I say?”



The most important thing first. Back Judge Gerry Bram, who suffered a major heart attack in the ECU-Syracuse game on Saturday, was listed in serious condition according to a hospital spokesman on Sunday night.

The Pirates handled the situation the right way, huddling up on the sideline for a team prayer. Bram’s circumstances certainly trivialized the outcome, a 44-30 win for the Orangemen.

It was reassuring to hear Pirates inside linebacker Pernell Griffin say after the game that he would continue to pray for the fallen official.

On to issues from the game:

That failed onside kick...

I was waiting for someone to ask Coach Steve Logan about it on his Sunday night call-in radio show and someone did.

It came after ECU had gone ahead 30-29 with 12:22 left to play. Logan said you have to take such risks at ECU and that coaches and players are prepared for such situations.

I’ll respectfully disagree.

Anything that reminds me of former N.C. State coach Monte Kiffin where Coach Logan is concerned must certainly be inappropriate.

Admittedly, there was a time when the Pirates needed some gimmickry to succeed. But I think the coach is selling his program short to a degree. The level to which Logan has raised the program over the years reduces the need for smoke and mirrors.

ECU was winning straight up on the road in the fourth quarter at the time. Running game stats indicate ECU was controlling the line of scrimmage. Why give Syracuse a shot at a short field?

It was a matter of execution. Even if Syracuse was susceptible, the onus is on Kevin Miller to place the kick where it can be recovered — at least 10 yards down the field, out of the reach of the opposition, and in bounds.

Miller wasn’t having a great day. He missed a field goal from 47 yards and had a kickoff sail out of bounds. The shape of the football leaves no guarantees on accuracy once that kick hits the turf. Unpredictable bounces are part of the game.

The bottom line was that the gamble didn’t work and it gave Syracuse possession at the ECU 46. Any consideration of risk must be weighed as to its payoff versus the consequences.

The Orangemen got pumped up with their good fortune and took the lead for keeps in four plays.

Pass coverage...

ECU had problems on pass defense throughout the day. Starting corner Kelly Hardy was out. The Pirates stacked up to stop the run and the coverage suffered in the secondary as a result.

“Sometimes you have to pick your poison,” Logan said in regard to which element of the Orangemen’s offense the Pirates chose to try to take away.

More pressure on unlikely hero Troy Nunes, the Syracuse quarterback, would have helped. Nunes got booed by the fans at the Carrier Dome when he started the game in place of R.J. Anderson, who had won the job two games beforehand but who had come down with the flu.

Nunes threw for 296 yards and four touchdowns, giving the home fans a much better performance than they deserved.

Give it to Leonard Henry...

The L-Train had 14 carries for 177 yards. Junior Smith and Scott Harley used to have that many carries by halftime. Henry’s the leading rusher in Conference USA. Give it to him until they stop him. Mix in the play action.

The positives...

ECU showed a lot of guts in a tough building to make a game out of it after falling behind 20-3. Syracuse was limited to 108 yards rushing on 47 carries, an average of 2.3 yards per carry.

That wasn’t William & Mary. That was an offense that blew up Auburn with its smashmouth power a week earlier.


They’re loving Lou.

Speaking of unlikely heroes, tight end Rod Trafford, who caught the winning touchdown, came to Columbia as a walk-on who weighed 190 pounds, only slightly more than Holtz. He hadn’t caught a pass all season and didn’t have a touchdown in his career. But he latched on to a seven-yard toss from Phil Petty with 2:18 left for the tying touchdown and sophomore kicker Dan Weaver added the winning extra point.

“This is the best thing that’s even happened to me in football,” said Trafford, who has beefed up to 250. “I saw the pretty little ball in the air, and I knew I had to catch it.”

That’s the stuff that dreams are made of.  Holtz will have to get the Gamecocks off Cloud Nine for their next game. Oh, it’s a visit from Kentucky. Well, maybe not. The way the Wildcats throw, USC’s defense may get some interceptions if they haven’t returned to earth.


It took until their fourth game of the season following a wake-up call last week from Virginia, but the Tigers finally looked like the team they were expected to be. Clemson faced a must-win situation in the ACC race at Georgia Tech after last week’s loss to the Cavaliers.

“This was our game of the year,” said Clemson running back Travis Zachery, who ran for three touchdowns. “We approached it that way.”

It was definitely Dantzler’s game of the year so far as he accounted for 418 of Clemson’s 502 total yards, including the winning touchdown in overtime on an 11-yard run.

The Tigers get a little time to savor their conquest with an open date before playing at N.C. State on Oct. 13. Amazingly, the last six Clemson-Georgia Tech games have each been decided by a three-point margin.


The Tar Heels avenged last year’s loss in Chapel Hill for their eighth win in nine years over the Wolfpack and stoked the optimism surrounding the program that emerged following last week’s upset of Florida State.

UNC’s defense held State to its lowest point total in the 15 games that Chuck Amato has been the Pack’s head coach. Kory Bailey caught two touchdown passes from Darian Durant for the Heels.

And guess who comes to town this week? That’s right, ECU. Durant had not been born the last time the Pirates played in Chapel Hill, a 56-0 UNC win in 1981.


After that scintillating 35-14 win over Illinois to open the season, the Pack has looked very ordinary in a win over SMU and a loss to the Tar Heels.

“We were in poor field position the entire day,” Amato said. “We had two turnovers and we got three turnovers. But the first turnover we had, they got seven points off of it. We had some very costly penalties at some very costly times.”

Not that Amato was laying the loss at the officials’ door.

“They were all legit,” said the State coach. “The officials did an outstanding job in a game like this. It was probably the best crew they have. You keep stepping on yourself, but in the end it was almost there.”

State was without Austin Herbert’s kicking because he sprained his ankle walking down a flight of stairs in a freak accident on Thursday. As a result, the Pack gambled on a fourth-and-two at the UNC 22 on its first series of the third quarter when a 39-yard field goal would have provided a 9-7 lead. Pack quarterback Philip Rivers overthrew tight end Willie Wright and State lost possession.

“Willie was open,” Amato said. “Very seldom do you see Philip do that.”


Any notions of an upset that might have developed from the Deacons’ apparent improvement and Florida State’s perceived vulnerability were quickly dispelled as Noles quarterback Chris Rix rebounded with 345 yards passing and three touchdowns.

“We realized we can’t just go on the field and win on our name,” said FSU coach Bobby Bowden.

Wake quarterback Anthony Young, the rubber band man, ran for a 71-yard touchdown in the first quarter. The Deacons recorded two safeties in the fourth quarter. Wake returns home to host N.C. State on Saturday.


Like Wake Forest and North Carolina, Virginia is trying to prove that two quarterbacks are better than one. On Saturday they succeeded as Bryson Spinner and Matt Schaub combined to complete 24 of 36 passes for 284 yards and three touchdowns.

Duke’s D. Bryant completed 17 of 36 for 191 yards with no scores. Duke back Chris Douglas ran for 101 yards on 24 carries and caught three passes for 25 yards.

One might have thought it was time for the leaves to start falling in Charlottesville. Those were actually yellow penalty flags from the officials in the Duke-Virginia game. The Blue Devils and Cavaliers totaled 226 yards in penalties.

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02/23/2007 01:03:09 AM

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