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College Football in the Carolinas

View from the East
Thursday, October 11, 2001

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Born of Same Lab, ECU and Army
Will Have Few Offensive Secrets


All of the Division I-A teams in the Carolinas are involved in conference games this week with a pair of head-to-head matchups, Clemson at N.C. State and Wake Forest at Duke.

East Carolina starts a six-game run of Conference USA games at Army and South Carolina seeks to keep a special season going at Arkansas. North Carolina is at home and goes for its fourth straight win against Virginia since its 0-3 start.

Last week’s record was 2-2 with three-point misses in the ECU-UNC and Wake-State games. I’m 5-5 over the last two weeks for a 19-12 mark for the season. Got to try to get over .500 this week.

Here we go. Relax, focus, concentrate and anticipate. ... With three games in the Triangle plus the State Fair, my best prediction is heavy traffic. Go early and avoid the major thoroughfares if possible.

Saturday, Oct. 13, 12:45 p.m.


This is the second head-to-head matchup between Pirates coach Steve Logan and his old buddy, Todd Berry, former ECU offensive coordinator and second-year head coach of the Black Knights.

There will be few surprises offensively since Logan and Berry have shared the same laboratory going back as far as their days together at Tulsa in 1984.

Junior Smith, ECU’s career rushing leader with 3,745 yards from 1991-94, is Army’s running backs coach.

Something tells me the greetings between the Pirates and former ECU personnel will be a little more amicable this week than it was last week in Chapel Hill.

Army led 21-14 in the third quarter of last season’s game in Greenville before Leonard Henry scored three touchdowns and ECU pulled away to a 42-21 win.

“I do not enjoy it at all,” Logan said about competing with a buddy on the other sideline. “Last year, I was relieved we won the football game but I did not enjoy it. Ninety-nine percent of the coaches I coach against, at the end of every football game, if we happen to win I have a lot of empathy for the other man.

“There’s lots and lots of pressure in this profession on everybody who happens to be running a college football program. When you know someone and are close personal friends with them, it just makes it that much more uncomfortable.”

Henry had 10 carries for 134 yards against the Cadets last season, production comparable to his efforts this season. Henry is averaging 131.0 yards per game, ninth in the nation, and 8.7 yards per carry, third nationally. He’s a great antidote for an offense whose passing game has been struggling.

Logan feels his players will enjoy the new AstroPlay surface at West Point. It’s synthetic but soft and looks like grass. The last time ECU went to Army, Kevin Miller kicked four field goals in a 33-14 win that included his career longest, a 52-yarder.

“I may be the only guy who likes AstroTurf,” Miller said. “But I like seeing the bottom of the ball on the carpet when I’m kicking.”

Miller has hit 7 of 9 field goal attempts this season and all 16 of his extra points. He’s helped ECU achieve a perfect record in the red zone with 17 scores inside the opposition’s 20-yard line — 11 touchdowns and six field goals.


ECU has averaged less than two minutes per possession on its 19 offensive touchdown drives, which have covered an average of 63.5 yards in 5.8 plays. ... Tape of the UNC game failed to substantiate either holding call that nullified ECU touchdowns. ... The Pirates have allowed their last two foes seven passing touchdowns and 590 yards total through the air. ... There may be more man coverage at Army. The zone coverage just hasn’t worked. ... ECU has only started 2-0 in C-USA once, in 1998. ... Army stopped a seven-game losing streak with a 28-14 win over Houston at West Point last week. ... ECU’s tandem of Marvin Townes and Art Brown have the Pirates ranked second nationally in kickoff returns at 30.8 yards per return. ... Pernell Griffin had 22 tackles at Carolina (10 solos, 12 assists). He has 91 stops this season and 398 for his career. He’s tied for second on the ECU career list with Mark Libiano (1992-95) and needs 42 more tackles to move past Harold Randolph (1974-77) into first place. ... Miller, who has 152 points in his career midway through his junior season, is within striking distance of kicker Jeff Heath’s ECU career scoring mark of 251 points. Heath will be inducted into the ECU Hall of Fame next weekend when the Pirates host Memphis. ...


ECU’s pass defense needs to show improvement because Berry has converted the Cadets from an option-oriented attack to one that looks to take what the defense is giving it.

ECU’s receiving corps has been depleted, which puts further burden on the running game.

Factor in the support for U.S. military efforts and the positive aspects of Army’s win last week and this could be a difficult assignment for the Pirates. But they seem resolved to go after the league championship and this is their next step.

PREDICTION: East Carolina 31, Army 21.

Saturday, Oct. 13, 3:30 p.m.


South Carolina is 5-0 for the first time since 1988 and is ranked No. 9 in both major polls. That’s in spite of allowing an average of more yards than they’re gaining.

The Gamecocks rank ninth in total offense and defense in the 12-team SEC.

“We’re No. 9 in the country because we have won,” said Coach Lou Holtz. “The question is ‘Can we keep winning?’ I don’t know. Arkansas is 19-3 in Arkansas under Coach (Houston) Nutt.”

The positives is that the Gamecocks are taking care of the football and are taking it away from the opposition. USC is a plus-8 on turnovers and hasn’t hurt itself with penalties either. They lead the league in fewest penalty yards, averaging 40.4 per game.

“We play together as a team,” Holtz said. “We’re very competitive and have a lot of people making a lot of big plays.”

The Gamecocks are winning the close games with three of their victories by a total of eight points.


Arkansas runs from the I-formation and its offensive line averages 304 pounds. ... South Carolina won 27-7 over the Razorbacks last season in Columbia. Derek Watson ran for 136 yards on 17 carries. ... Arkansas won 48-14 at home in 1999 during South Carolina’s 0-11 season. ... Holtz is 1-1 against Arkansas and was 60-21-2 when coaching the Razorbacks from 1977-83. ... Razorbacks head coach Houston Nutt played quarterback for Holtz at Arkansas before transferring to Oklahoma State. He later returned to Arkansas and was a graduate assistant under Holtz.


South Carolina has been doing a good job of taking care of the football and not beating itself. If that continues and the Gamecocks perform as they are capable in various phases, they should come home 6-0.

PREDICTION: South Carolina 21, Arkansas 14.

Saturday, Oct. 13, Noon


Former N.C. State coach Mike O’Cain returns to Raleigh as quarterbacks coach for the Tigers and will get to watch Wolfpack sophomore signal caller Philip Rivers, whom he recruited.

“I talked to Mike and asked why he offered Rivers a scholarship when teams like Alabama and Auburn (in Rivers’ home state) did not,” said Clemson coach Tommy Bowden. “Mike said he was accurate. He was a winner.”

So far State is 11-5 since Rivers took charge of the offense, but Clemson brings a considerable talent with them when you talk about quarterbacks. Woodrow Dantzler finally did look like a Heisman candidate in his last outing, a 47-44 overtime win for the Tigers at Georgia Tech.

Dantzler will face an improved State defense that is 17th nationally in scoring defense at 15.5 points per game. That’s almost half of last year’s average of 28 points allowed per game.

State is tenth nationally in pass defense, allowing an average of 150.5 yards per game. The defense has also generated 11 turnovers while the offense has made just three. That’s a very healthy ratio.

“Knock on wood,” said State coach Chuck Amato. “I hope that continues to improve because it’s so important that you don’t turn it over.”


Austin Herbert of State is expected to punt but won’t placekick because of an ankle injury. ... Clemson leads the series 43-26-1 and won 34-27 last year at Death Valley. ... State has come from behind in eight of its 11 wins under Amato. ... State linebacker Levar Fisher is averaging 17.5 tackles per game, best in the ACC. ... NCSU cornerback Brian Williams has interceptions in three straight games. ... State is 45-3-1 since 1988 when rushing for 200 yards or more. ... Dantzler has 1,943 career rushing yards, the most in ACC history by a quarterback. ... Tommy Bowden coached the secondary at ECU in 1980 during spring ball before moving on to Auburn to coach running backs in the fall.


Clemson has the better offense while State probably has the better defense. Maybe that’s because Bowden is a former offensive coordinator and Amato is a former defensive coordinator. Clemson has been inconsistent and State has won ugly. Tough choice.

PREDICTION: Clemson 27, N.C. State 21.

Saturday, Oct. 13, 1:30 p.m.


It must be greet old friends week, an occasion that has little significance to Cavaliers coach Al Groh, who was an assistant at UNC from 1973-77.

“If I had emotion for every place I’ve coached, I’d be an emotional wreck,” Groh said.

Anger was the emotion that dominated Groh after last week’s 41-21 loss at Maryland.

“I’m mad at me,” Groh said. “I’m mad at the coaches. I’m mad at the players. But mostly I’m mad at me.”

There is great emotion in this series which started in 1892. Carolina leads 55-46-4 but Virginia has won 11 of the last 14.

More from the old friends department — Heels coach John Bunting talked with Groh about a position on his staff when Groh was coaching the New York Jets in 2000 before Bunting went to work for the New Orleans Saints.

UNC quarterback Ronald Curry inflamed Cavaliers fans by initially committing to UVa before signing with UNC. He’ll start but he’s yet to beat the Cavs in football. Curry became UNC’s career total offense leader last week with 5,521 career total offense yards.

This will be an unusual matchup of two teams who each play two quarterbacks.

UNC offensive coordinator Gary Tranquill was at Virginia last season. UNC running backs coach Andre Powell spent the last five seasons on the UVa staff.


Carolina’s offense is averaging 353.3 total yards and 27.3 points in its current three-game winning streak. ... UNC leads the ACC and is 20th nationally in total defense at 290.5 yards per game. ... UNC’s schedule is ranked the second toughest in the nation in the latest Sagarin ratings, trailing only Oregon State. ...


The Tar Heels will maintain their momentum.

PREDICTION: North Carolina 35, Virginia 17.

Saturday, Oct. 13, 1 p.m.


Duke has the nation’s longest losing streak, 17 games. The Blue Devils haven’t won since beating Wake 48-35 at home in 1999, a game in which Duke scored a school record 34 points in the first quarter.

Wake has lost five straight ACC games, a string that dates back to a 28-26 win over the Devils in Winston-Salem last season. The Deacons have dropped three straight since their 2-0 start under Jim Grobe.

“After you play Florida State, it appears that the ACC is pretty well balanced and I throw Duke right in the middle of that,” Grobe said. “I don’t think there’s an unbeatable team left on our schedule right now, but there is not a team we can beat if we don’t play real well. We are going to be in that situation against Duke and everyone we play down the stretch.”

Deacons quarterback James MacPherson was ineffective in limited action last week because of an ankle injury.

“He was so limited in his mobility that he couldn’t get it done,” Grobe said.

The Wake coach is looking to Anthony Young to improve his play.

“We can’t keep making excuses,” Grobe said. “It’s time for him to step up and play because he has the ability to do that.”

Duke coach Carl Franks feels his team is progressing despite its 0-5 record.

“We see we’re not getting overpowered,” Franks said. “It’s mistakes we’re making that cost us opportunities to move the ball and score.”


Franks is 3-24 as Duke’s head coach. ... Wake had just 95 yards passing against State. ... The Deacons have 19 starters back from last year. Duke has 14. ... Chris Douglas is averaging 79 yards rushing per game for Duke. Wake’s Tarence Williams is averaging 106.6 yards per game.


Wake should win despite a determined effort by the Devils. The Deacons have been able to move the ball more consistently.

PREDICTION: Wake Forest 28, Duke 17.

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02/23/2007 01:03:12 AM

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