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College Football in the Carolinas
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View from the East
Monday, October 22, 2001

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Homecoming Games in the Carolinas a Happy Experience — Except at Clemson

©2001 Bonesville.net

Homecoming is a special time. Alumni return. Former players get together and share stories of the old days, and the current teams do their best to make everyone feel good by getting a win, usually against an outmanned opponent.

Each of the Division I-A teams in the Carolinas that played was involved in a Homecoming game this past Saturday and, for the most part, the formula worked.

The exception, of course, was North Carolina spoiling the occasion for Clemson.

The Tar Heels are for real while the Tigers are a one-man team. That one man, Woodrow Dantzler, was contained and the result was a stunning 38-3 win for UNC.

That outcome also resulted in some reshuffling in the State Line Power Rankings with Clemson slipping two notches, from second to fourth. Here’s how they stack up:

State Line Power Rankings© [101501]

1. South Carolina ... A school record 656 total yards in a 46-14 victory over Vanderbilt.

2. North Carolina ... The Tar Heels are rolling and thinking about bowling.

3. East Carolina ... Pirates defense arrives in time for thorough 32-11 Homecoming win over Memphis.

4. Clemson ... The Tigers can forget the ACC title and Woody can forget the Heisman Trophy.

5. N.C. State ... Turnovers, offensive production are problems in a 27-17 loss at Georgia Tech.

6. Wake Forest ... Deacons use an open date to prepare for this week’s Homecoming against Clemson.

7. Duke ... There’s a flicker of hope for ending the losing streak this week against Vanderbilt.

Looking at the programs individually:


UPDATING THE CAROLINAS

EAST CAROLINA

There were a lot of good things happening for the Pirates in the win over Memphis. It was ECU’s best defensive effort of the season against a team that had scored 52 points the previous week at Houston.

“We got our butt kicked,” said Tigers coach Tommy West. “I got mine whipped. The bottom line is we got whipped in every phase of the game. ... They were just better than us today.”

ECU led 28-11 in first downs, 473-231 in total yardage and had over 13 minutes more in possession time but the most important aspect of the outcome was that the Pirates improved to 3-0 in their drive to win the Conference USA championship.

The Pirates played improved pass defense with Kelly Hardy returning at cornerback after a three-game absence due to a knee strain. The run defense was solid as the Tigers netted just 72 yards on the ground.

ECU’s running game was productive with senior Leonard Henry going over 100 yards for the sixth consecutive game, tying a school record set by Carlester Crumpler in the 1972 and ’73 seasons.

Offensive lineman Chris Nelson returned ahead of schedule from a fractured tibia in the first game of the season.

David Garrard probably had his best day of the season throwing as he completed 20 of 25 for 268 yards with a 45-yard strike to Richard Alston for a touchdown. Garrard also had two short keepers for touchdowns.

Alston, who Logan called a natural wideout since his move from quarterback, had six catches for 105 yards.

Special teams also performed well. Kevin Miller hit all four of his field goal attempts and Jarad Preston punted five times for a 44.2-yard average.

There were a couple of snafus in the return game by freshman Marvin Townes but more coaching and experience will eliminate those mistakes.

The challenge for the Pirates is to maintain that level of play as the schedule takes a detour from the routine. ECU’s next game is Oct. 30 at TCU, a Tuesday night. That’s part of C-USA’s deal with the ESPN networks.

It means Tuesday becomes Saturday, Monday is Friday, etc. as the Pirates prepare for a rematch of the 1999 Mobile Alabama Bowl, which the Horned Frogs won, 28-14.

“Our football players have been zeroed in on Conference USA since last spring,” Logan said. “I assure you of that.”

The crowd of 38,120, the 11th largest in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium was a good indicator, too, that Pirates fans are grasping the importance of league play.

“It’s been some time since a conference championship has been won by a team in this state,” Logan said. “38,000 to 40,000 for a Conference USA team is really great.”

With no other Division I-A teams playing at home in the state on Saturday, the Pirates had a large volume of recruits on campus. Some commitments may follow this week.


SOUTH CAROLINA

The Gamecocks bounced back well from their only loss of the season. After getting just 272 yards of total offense in that 10-7 loss at Arkansas, USC piled up 656 in the 46-14 win over the Commodores.

The showing bumped the Gamecocks up from 16th to 14th in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll, in which Steve Logan of ECU is one of the 60 head coaches who votes.

Phil Petty completed 13 of 21 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns while Andrew Pinnock and Derek Watson each ran for 105 yards and a score in the win.

“I was very happy to see we got so many people in the game,” said Gamecocks coach Lou Holtz. “Virtually everybody that dressed played, except the redshirts.”

USC (6-1) became bowl eligible and controls its fate for the SEC championship with a big game at Tennessee this week.

“This team is more prepared for a hostile environment than last week,” Holtz said. “The noise factor will be a problem. We will have to play a pretty flawless football game. ... Their offensive line is awesome. Defensively, they block out the sun. I’m sure they will play a four-man line. If they played five across, they would stretch out of bounds.”


NORTH CAROLINA

The Tar Heels have obviously turned themselves around completely since an 0-3 start.

They exposed Clemson for what they were on Saturday, a team that offensively relies on one player. The Tigers sank as a result on Saturday as UNC’s defense limited Dantzler to 43 yards rushing and 73 passing.

Carolina’s quarterbacks, both of them, had better days. Sophomore Darian Durant completed all 11 of his passes for 97 yards while Ronald Curry, who left the game with a strained left hamstring in the third quarter had 109 yards passing and 59 rushing.

“We started 0-3 and have won five consecutive games, which I understand is an ACC record,” said Heels coach John Bunting. “We never stopped believing. I’m glad we have a bye week coming up, we need a rest.

“Our ability to contain Dantzler is a tribute to the guys working together. There was no special scheme. We just attacked blocks with vision on the ball carrier.

“I did not expect as complete a game as we played today. We are playing with a lot of emotion right now and the guys have developed a great sense of camaraderie and chemistry.”

Carolina’s 35-point margin of victory equals the largest margin of victory ever against Clemson. The Tar Heels also won by 35 points (42-7) in 1970 in Bunting’s only trip to Death Valley as a UNC player. Been there. Done that.

The Tar Heels have an open date before playing at Georgia Tech on Thursday, Nov. 1.


CLEMSON

Woody Dantzler called a team meeting after the Tigers were dismantled by the Tar Heels.

“Right now a lot of people want to throw us in the back barn,” said Dantzler, who has already graduated. “But we don’t see that. We’ve got to play for each other.”

The Tigers were booed by their Homecoming crowd of 84,000, many of whom weren’t around to see Clemson get shut out for the last three quarters.

“It looked like one of those days when nothing you did went right,” said Tigers coach Tommy Bowden. “... I don’t think we are as bad as what we looked. I don’t know if we are as good as we thought we were going into the game.”

Clemson dropped from No. 15 to No. 25 in the coaches poll.

Counting the Florida State game, coach Bunting’s Heels have outscored the Bowden-coached teams 79-12 this season. Guess that makes him King B in the ACC.


N.C. STATE

The Wolfpack had just 261 yards of total offense and turned the ball over three times to one for Georgia Tech. Those numbers will get you beat and that’s what the Yellow Jackets did to NCSU, 27-17, in Atlanta.

The absence of offensive coordinator Norm Chow and receiver/returner Koren Robinson from the Pack’s miraculous 8-4 season in 2000 was apparent again.

Tech’s 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, the domain of State comebacks a year ago, were the difference after a 55-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers to Jeremy Mebane tied the score at 17 with 5:14 left in the third quarter. State had just 49 yards of offense other than the touchdown in the second half.

“It was the first game that we had more turnovers than our opponent did,” said State coach Chuck Amato. “We’ve been on the plus side of that all year, and those turnovers hurt us. One was for a touchdown and one was right after the half when we were heading down the field again and might have put some points on the board.”

State hosts Virginia on Saturday.


WAKE FOREST

The Deacons took the weekend off and expect to find out more about the status of quarterback Anthony Young on Monday. Young aggravated a fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot last week at Duke and has been wearing a cast.

James MacPherson, “the passing quarterback,” is expected to be full speed for Clemson after being slowed by an ankle injury two weeks ago.

Deacons coach Jim Grobe doesn’t want to play a freshman quarterback. He’s hoping to redshirt the bulk of the newcomers.


DUKE

My colleague Dan Collins of the Winston-Salem Journal stated the inverse situation that exists for the Blue Devils in regard to their nation’s longest 19-game losing streak. Weak opponents are actually bigger games for the Blue Devils because of the possibility of getting a win.

That makes Vanderbilt (1-5) a big game this week for Duke (0-7) at Wallace Wade Stadium as the Blue Devils try to recover from a 59-17 rout at Maryland in which the Terps had 697 yards of total offense.

“The way we played was ugly at times,” said Duke coach Carl Franks. “I don’t know what we can learn from this game.”

Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.

Click here to dig into Al Myatt's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 01:03:16 AM
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