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College Football in the Carolinas
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View from the East
Monday, October 15, 2001

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Gamecocks and Clemson Swap Spots;
Berry Forced to Choose His Poison

©2001 Bonesville.net

The dream of an undefeated season is over for South Carolina thanks to a blocked field goal at Arkansas with 48 seconds left that preserved a 10-7 win for the Razorbacks.

That loss drops the Gamecocks out of the top spot in the State Line Power Rankings for the first time this season as USC trades places with Clemson, a 45-37 winner at N.C. State.

Tigers quarterback Woodrow Dantzler accounted for an incredible 517 yards of total offense against the Wolfpack. Dantzler broke a 54-year old Clemson record for touchdown responsibility with six as he threw for four and ran for two more.

North Carolina moved its record to 4-3 with its fourth straight win, 30-24 over Virginia, and Wake Forest avoided the power rankings basement with a 42-35 win over Duke. The Blue Devils are the only team mathematically eliminated from achieving bowl eligibility at this point.

Changes in the pecking order are called for, so here are this week’s rankings for the seven Division I-A programs in the Carolinas.

State Line Power Rankings© [101501]

1. Clemson ... It’s not Heisman hype if Woodrow Dantzler plays the rest of the season like he did at State.
2. South Carolina ... Not many points at Arkansas but a lot of excuses.
3. North Carolina ... This week’s trip to Clemson puts a four-game winning streak in jeopardy.
4. East Carolina ... Pirates show multi-strike capability at Army.
5. N.C. State ... Two losses at home eliminate Wolfpack from realistic ACC title contention.
6. Wake Forest ... Running game has good day at Duke.
7. Duke ... 18 straight losses despite an incredible comeback on Saturday.

Now, let’s take a closer at the teams of the Carolinas and examine the bowl possibilities of each of them:


UPDATING THE CAROLINAS

EAST CAROLINA:

Army coach Todd Berry was once offensive coordinator at East Carolina and he had a great appreciation for the presentation of his successor, Doug Martin, following a 49-26 Conference USA loss to ECU at home on Saturday.

Pirates quarterback David Garrard completed 12 of 19 passes for 173 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. ECU running back Leonard Henry ran 13 times for 156 yards and three touchdowns. Henry had scoring runs of 51, 9, and 28 yards as he raised his yards per carry average to 9.22, the best in the nation. He’s averaging 135.2 yards per game, which ranks ninth nationally.

“He’s a great player,” Berry said of Henry. “He’s averaging nine yards per carry. That’s ridiculous. He’s a great player. He’s an NFL player.

“... Whenever you have a Garrard that can throw it and a Henry that can run it, they can attack you 53 yards across the field and, with Garrard’s arm, 70 yards down the field. That’s an awful lot of ground to cover.”

Berry was an apprentice to Logan when he was developing his option/pass offense at Tulsa.

“... So, choose your poison,” Berry said. “That’s why they’re one of the top teams in the nation in scoring offense. That’s why nobody stops them, because they do the right things and they’ve got great players.”

ECU pushed its scoring average to 34.7 points per game, 18th nationally among 115 Division I-A teams and tops in C-USA.

The Pirates’ scoring average was enhanced by special teams and the defense at Army. Free safety Travis Heath returned a fumble caused by inside linebacker Pernell Griffin 81 yards for ECU’s first touchdown and outside linebacker John Williamson had a 29-yard pass interception return for the Pirates’ last score.

In between, freshman Marvin Townes had a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

It reminded me of something Pat Dye used to say when he was coaching at ECU about the difficulty of beating a team that scores on defense and special teams.

“The difference was the surprise touchdowns,” said Logan, who, incidentally, stays in touch with Dye.

“Twenty-one points. That’s special.”

Townes is third on the national level in kickoff returns with a 32.2-yard average. ECU is third nationally in the team standings as well with a 29.2-yard average thanks primarily to the efforts of Art Brown when opponents kick away from Townes.

Brown helps with his blocking, too.

“When I caught the ball, I had committed to the inside,” Townes said of his first touchdown return. “Next thing I know, there was one guy left and Art was leading me. When he picked that defender off, the hole was wide open and I hit it. Then I took the ball down the sideline.”

ECU, now 2-0 in the league with Memphis coming in on Saturday, has the Liberty Bowl berth that goes to the C-USA champion as its goal. The C-USA champ plays the Mountain West champion at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31 in Memphis on ESPN. Brigham Young and Air Force are each 2-0 currently in the Mountain West and Utah is 1-0.

Other bowl slots for C-USA teams include the GMAC in Mobile, Alabama, the Galleryfurniture.com in Houston, and the Motor City in Pontiac, Mich.

The GMAC is on Dec. 19 at 8 p.m. on ESPN 2 and matches a C-USA team against a Mid-American Conference team. Marshall, Miami of Ohio, Toledo and Western Michigan are all unbeaten thus far within the MAC, which has two divisions.

The Galleryfurniture is Dec. 28 at 1:30 p.m. on ESPN 2 and matches C-USA against a Big 12 team. The Motor City, the only trip the Pirates haven’t made, is Dec. 29 at noon on ESPN 2. It also features C-USA against a MAC team.


CLEMSON:

The Tigers came out for the Textile Bowl in some new threads at N.C. State on Saturday — purple pants.

“The purple makes us unique and different from everyone else,” said Tigers coach Tommy Bowden, who added, “I think Woody likes purple.”

Woody Dantzler ran for 184 yards on 23 carries in his purple britches at State. He completed an incredible 23 of 27 passes for 333 yards, without an interception.

ECU wore purple pants, once that I recall in the Steve Logan era. Once. A 30-0 loss to Illinois in the Liberty Bowl in 1994. They were later relegated for use in practice.

The Tigers, who host UNC on Saturday, are in the thick of the running for an ACC bowl slot.

The ACC has berths in the Tangerine Bowl (Orlando, Fla.) on Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m. on a television network to be determined against a Big East team, the Seattle Bowl on Dec. 27 at 5 p.m. on ESPN 2 against a Pac-10 team, the Peach Bowl (Atlanta) on Dec. 31 at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN against an SEC team, the Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, Fla.) on Jan. 1 at 12:30 p.m. on NBC against a Big East team, and a slot in the Bowl Championship series.

The BCS bowls include the Fiesta Bowl (Tempe, Ariz.) on Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. on ABC, the Sugar Bowl (New Orleans) on Jan. 1 at 8 p.m. on ABC, the Orange Bowl (Miami) on Jan. 2 at 8 p.m. on ABC, and the Rose Bowl for the national championship on Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. on ABC.


SOUTH CAROLINA:

Gamecocks coach Lou Holtz cited lack of communication, mental and physical mistakes, and penalties as factors in the first loss of the season.

“Some people played well and some didn’t play as well as they are capable of playing,” Holtz said.

USC quarterback Phil Petty had completed 62 percent of his passes this season without an interception. He finished 11 of 30 with two picked off.

Holtz said his team had trouble adjusting to various defenses Arkansas presented.

“We kept trying to change our protections and we had trouble communicating our changes,” said Holtz. “Only one of our sideline phones was working and it was difficult to maintain the communication that was necessary on offense.”

A poor practice on Thursday may have foreboded the Gamecocks’ downfall.

“That’s usually an omen of how you’re going to play and unfortunately it came true,” Holtz said.

Still, South Carolina led 7-3 after a 41-yard touchdown run by Corey Jenkins early in the second half.

The Razorbacks converted twice on their touchdown drive that culminated with a 10-yard pass from Zak Clark to Richard Smith with 4:28 left in the third. The toss went through the hands of South Carolina linebacker Kalimba Edwards and Smith caught it between Gamecocks defenders Sheldown Brown and Antione Nesmith.

It came down to a 39-yard tying field goal attempt with 48 seconds left. Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said Curt Davis and Jermaine Brooks of the Hogs pushed the USC offensive line back on the kick.

“Carlos and Ken (Hamlin) must have jumped 12 feet,” Nutt said.

“The first half was just a disaster,” Holtz said. “There’s no other way to describe it. We only had the ball four times in the second half, and three of those times we had drives of 60 yards or more, but could only come up with seven points.”

Arkansas had nine minutes more in possession time.

The Gamecocks dropped from No. 9 to No. 16 in the two major polls. The good news for the Gamecocks (5-1) is that they host Vanderbilt on Saturday and should become bowl eligible for one of seven SEC postseason berths.

The SEC slot in the BCS isn’t ruled out for the Gamecocks in theory but they probably couldn’t lose another league game. Other possibilities are the Independence Bowl (Shreveport, La.) on Dec. 27 at 8 p.m. on ESPN against a Big 12 team, the Music City (Nashville, Tenn.) on Dec. 28 at 5 p.m. on ESPN, the Peach Bowl (see above) vs. the ACC, the Cotton Bowl
(Dallas) on Jan. 1 at 11 a.m. on Fox against a Big 12 team, the Outback Bowl (Tampa, Fla.) on Jan. 1 at 11 a.m. on ESPN against a Big Ten team, and the Citrus Bowl (Orlando) on Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. on ABC against a Big Ten team.


NORTH CAROLINA:

The Tar Heels didn’t look like a bowl team at all after their 0-3 start. But with the four straight wins that have followed, UNC has kept itself in the hunt for the ACC title.

Heels quarterback Ronald Curry played in a win over Virginia for the first time as a senior. He is from Hampton, Va. and initially committed to the Cavaliers.

“I got some bragging rights with my cousin, but other than that it was just like any other game,” said Curry, who had a 66-yard touchdown pass to Sam Aiken in the 30-24 win.

UNC’s ground game was more effective than when it managed just 134 yards against ECU. Andre Williams led the way with a career-best 147 yards on 28 carries.

“It feels good to finally get 100 yards,” said Williams, whose previous best was 68 yards rushing at N.C. State. “But it’s not me getting 100 yards, it’s the whole offense. That’s their 100 yards.”

UNC’s margin of victory came as Dexter Reid intercepted a pass that caromed off of Virginia receiver Kase Luzar and Reid returned it 67 yards for a score early in the fourth quarter.

UNC (4-3) needs three more wins to be bowl eligible this season since it has 12 games this season. The Tar Heels have road games at Clemson and Georgia Tech followed by home games with Wake Forest, Duke, and a make-up date with SMU.


N.C. STATE:

Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato was amazed at Woody Dantzler’s performance.

“I can’t imagine there being a better player in America,” said the Pack boss. “He had 517 yards of total offense and they had 567 as a team. There’s no secret to how they win and why they win. He makes big plays and he breaks tackles.

“We couldn’t tackle him. We must have set a record for missed tackles on just him alone. He put on a display.”

A knee injury to linebacker Levar Fisher, the 2000 ACC defensive player of the year, was added cause for concern.

State, a team known for its comebacks since Amato arrived, was left chasing Dantzler all day.

“We tried a little bit of everything,” Amato said. “... Our players have got to learn that they just can’t do it in the fourth quarter.”

State (3-2) has little wiggle room to be bowl eligible. Ohio and Duke are likely suspects for Wolfpack wins. The Pack must get one more win against a schedule that starts with a trip to Georgia Tech this week. Virginia comes to Raleigh the following week for a key game to Pack postseason hopes. A trip to Florida State isn’t promising and although State plays Maryland in Raleigh, the Terps look like a blossoming Cinderella right now.


WAKE FOREST:

The Deacons got very basic in the latter stages of a game-winning drive against Duke. Straight-ahead blocking and the purposeful running of Fred Staton helped the Deacons avoid the embarrassment of losing a 28-point lead at Duke.

Wake was up 35-7 with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter but the Blue Devils scored four touchdowns in the next eight minutes to tie the score.

“We just said, ‘Hey, Lord, we need a touchdown here,’ ” said Wake quarterback James MacPherson, who played the rest of the way after Anthony Young injured his foot in the second quarter.

Staton completed a 67-yard drive with a 5-yard run with 7:05 to go and the Deacons defense made the lead stand up.

“We were probably a little further ahead in the first half than we should have been,” said Wake coach Jim Grobe. “That gave us a false sense of security.”

Tarence Williams ran for 121 yards and two touchdowns but Grobe opted for Staton down the stretch after Williams’ fumble led the Duke’s game-tying score. Staton had 99 yards on 18 carries and also had two touchdowns. Receiver John Stone had 183 all-purpose yards for the Deacons and two touchdowns.

Wake (3-3) needs three wins to be bowl eligible against a schedule that includes Clemson, Georgia Tech and Northern Illinois at home. Wake travels to Virginia and North Carolina.

Grobe, who got his first ACC win at Duke, was thankful for an open date this week to allow some players to heal up. Wake stopped a five-game losing streak in the ACC that dated back to its 28-26 win over the Blue Devils in Winston-Salem last season. Its 42 points were a season high.


DUKE:

The Blue Devils didn’t win but they did provide ample excitement with their comeback. Duke (0-6) trailed 28-0 at the half and 35-7 with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter.

“At halftime, Coach [Carl] Franks was great and the coaches were making adjustments,” said Duke receiver Ben Erdeljac, who had nine catches for 102 yards, both career highs. “We went back out there and were playing one play at a time.

“Things started rolling and before we knew it, it was 35-35. It’s anybody’s game at that point.”

Franks was enjoying the revitalized atmosphere of Wallace Wade Stadium during Duke’s rally.

“We talked about the fact that 28 points is not too much to overcome,” Franks said. “The crowd got behind us. That was fun. The crowd really helped us today.”

But ultimately, the Blue Devils couldn’t complete a miraculous comeback attempt. Quarterback D. Bryant passed for a season-high 251 yards but cited the need for a more complete effort.

“We haven’t put a whole game together yet,” Bryant said. “If we do that, we’ll be all right. Today, we only played one good half. That’s been the story of our season.”

Duke will try to play spoiler at Maryland this week. Inside linebacker Jamyon Small was credited with 17 tackles for Duke including eight solo. Devils tight end Mike Hart extended his streak with at least one catch to 18 games.

Duke’s last win was at home against Wake Forest on Nov. 13, 1999 as the Blue Devils held on for a 48-35 win after erupting for a school-record 34 points in the first quarter. Duke’s 35 points for the game on Saturday were a season high and its 28 points in the third quarter were the most in a quarter since the first quarter of the 1999 Wake game.

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02/23/2007 01:03:14 AM
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